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28 October 2019
UWC Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation trains 30 small business construction business owners

(Published - 28 October 2019)

The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), in collaboration with the Master Builders Association of SA (MBAWC) - a registered trade association for employers in the building industry - trained 30 construction business owners this year.

The initiative, the Entrepreneurship for Contractors Development Programme, is a pilot project and a first attempt at making a meaningful contribution to the enormous challenge in the sector of finding suitably qualified building staff.

“We believe in light of the collapse of Group Five - one of the biggest construction companies in the country - earlier this year, we want to invest in this particular sector, especially since it ties in with the National Development Plan which wants to steer South Africa out of poverty,” says Wesley Clarence of CEI at UWC.

At a graduation ceremony this week (Tuesday, 22 October) Ms Charleen Duncan, director for CEI said, “We designed this university registered course which became a development programme to help grow entrepreneurs in this industry.

“We are proud that this graduation saw the first business owners graduating since UWC and Master Builders Association of the Western Cape started offering training to upskill entrepreneurs within this sector at the start of the year.

“Upon graduating, subcontractors, small contractors and business owners are now able to determine quality control procedures and systems and coordinate the successful handing over of completed work.

“They now understand, plan and maintain operational requirements and are able to contribute to a sustainable business,” said Ms Duncan.

Clarence says about the construction sector: “Every year it contributes R23bn to the Western Cape economy, creating approximately 160 000 jobs and paying salaries estimated to be worth R14bn. The Cape Town CBD alone was poised to see more than R16bn of economic growth between 2012 and 2019 through property development projects largely driven by the private sector.

“We want to take advantage of these opportunities for small business owners, which is why we want to highlight the importance of improving work ethic and the quality of products and services within the industry.

“This course helps business owners in areas such as pricing and claims, human resources and legalities, health and safety, contractual and legal requirements and running an efficient project,” he said.

The programme ran from February to mid-September 2019 and was open to participants who are registered with the Building Industry Council.

Mr Anthony Keal, group facilitator at the Master Builders Association Western Cape, said many construction businesses were established before 2010, but unfortunately, due to a lack of business savvy and experience many of them were not successful.

“In 2017 we conducted an industry survey of small builders and established builders to gauge what training and development was required to make their business sustainable.

“Courses such as these are important for the industry as well as the country because the construction industry is one of the largest in Cape Town and the greater Boland regions. It will help equip future business owners and entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level,” he said.

Caption: Pictured at the graduation ceremony is the group of newly qualified business owners, contractors and subcontractors.