Categorized | SMMEs, Supply Chain

Open Tenders opens hidden opportunities

Open Tenders

Almost every business owner would identify with the agony of obtaining information about a public sector tender – being hauled from pillar to post back and forth by indifferent public officers to no avail.

Thus, after noticing that lack of access to latest data about tenders could be that thin line between success and failure to the average small business, Nnive Nhlabathi decided to establish, Open Tenders.

In fact, Mhlabathi developed the idea of establishing an entity to provide an under-one-roof networking platform through which businesses could share critical information out of his personal ‘ordeal’ during his early days as an entrepreneur. “We often drove from one place to another to look for tenders and procurement opportunities and deliver project bids. We used to frequent government departments or municipality notice boards looking for latest information,” he recollects.

Based in Braamfontein, Open Tenders connects businesses, the majority of which are small and medium sized black-owned, to share ideas and information about tenders. It specialises in Project Finance and Tender Training workshops.

Mhlabathi spells out Open Tenders’ vision as: “To become the first company to offer procurement opportunities as well as online training.” Above and beyond, the organisation is aiming at taking its business concept beyond the country’s borders, in the SADC region, when deemed viable.

The organisation’s mission is to build a rich data base of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). “Our mission is to get the database of as many small business. Our goal is to have 100 000 members by the end of the year. We want to register members from across the African continent as well,’ Mhlabathi expounds.

Considering the challenges that the country is dealing with, with youth most afflicted by unemployment in need of inspirational business role models, Mhlabathi is fully aware that he needs to do more in providing critical mentorship.

“I advise any upcoming entrepreneurs to thoroughly examine their business model – its viability, potential market and long term growth and risks. I can’t mince words – it needs dollops of patience. After you have built its profile and gained a track record, that’s when you can go and seek funding,” he says.

Mhlabathi’s experience belies his young age. It has shaped his business mental stamina.

In tale that reminds one of how legendary Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, started, Mnive was a part time computer science student who dropped out to start his first business at the age of 22, against his parent’s wishes. “My gut feeling told me to go into business, and I have not regretted the least bit.”

When running a business hit a snag, Mhlabathi was forced to work for someone for three years, then resumed chasing his business dream, and has never looked back since. “In effect, I have been in business my whole economically productive life,” he says contentedly.

Over above and beyond Open Tenders, Mhlabathi runs a software company, five travel agencies and a design agency. The type with the knack of increasing his horizon, this year alone, he registered three companies.

Mhlabathi values teamwork and he is very grateful for the contribution of his business partners – Sivu Maqungo and Madoda Khuzwayo.

He firmly believes that the constraints – human resources, access to market access and human capital won’t stand in the way of achieving his growth ambitions.

Currently, Open Tenders is a small outfit, with seven employees, but will be getting more people to do online advertising aboard.

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