The Start-Up, Small and Micro Enterprises Policy should level the playing field between established businesses and small new groups regarding City procurement spend.
SMALL businesses and start-ups will be getting the boost they need from the City of Johannesburg, following the launch of the Start-Up, Small and Micro Enterprises (SSME) Policy by Executive Mayor Amos Masondo at the Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto on 23 March.
Executive mayor Amos Masondo launches the new SMME policyExecutive mayor Amos Masondo launches the new SMME policy in OrlandoThe policy was drafted by Joburg’s supply chain management unit and finance department in August 2009.
The supply chain management unit is responsible for buying goods and services for departments, municipal-owned entities and the City in a regulated manner. It aims to use the policy to aid employment by creating access to procurement opportunities in the municipality.
“It is a policy for the advancement and participation of small businesses, after concerns arose that small businesses were unable to compete with traditional big companies,” Masondo explained at the launch.
“We need to add meaning to economic empowerment so that we are not just onlookers, but are active in shaping our own futures,” he said.
The policy points out: “The uneven playing ground between established businesses and SSMEs has resulted in less participation by SSMEs in the City’s procurement spent.” The municipality aims to change these discrepancies by creating “an enabling environment to aggressively enhance and maximise SSMEs participation in the City’s procurement spending”.
It also intends to benefit people with disabilities. “The City realises people with disabilities are a vital component of society and is committed to ensuring that this group of people are given access to opportunities and that they are employed,” said Nero Maseko, from the City's disabilities unit.
It will do so by identifying and reserving quotations and bids for sole participation by SSMEs, and, in cases where the level of risk does not warrant reserving quotations, the City will stipulate a percentage that will be sub-contracted to these businesses.
Preference will be given to companies that conform to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.
Small businesses thrive in SowetoSmall businesses thrive in SowetoHowever, these enterprises will need to be on the City’s supplier database to be considered. They will then be accredited by the supply chain management unit, which will regularly update this list.
There was very little the City would be able to do to help SSMEs if they were not registered, warned the unit’s director, Thembisa Peele. “It is important to fill out forms properly and completely and it is your responsibility to ensure that all documents submitted are up-to-date,” she said.
If business owners fail to comply, they will not be recorded on the database and will not have access to any business opportunities that arise.
This was the major aspect of the policy that troubled the audience. Numerous concerned people cited missing out on opportunities because of difficulties in registering on the database.
Peele responded by saying it would not be an issue for them to worry about if they simply followed the procedures and ensured that all necessary documentation was up-to-date, which seemed to appease the audience.
Despite the challenges facing development, Masondo said the City remained optimistic that the policy was a step in the right direction. “Job creation and access to procurement opportunities by SSMEs [are] essential ingredients towards building an economically viable city.”
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