Contractors and suppliers, who completed the eight-month Eskom Contractor Academy course, graduated in Midrand on Thrusday.
The state utility company said its graduation ceremony, held at the Eskom Academy of Learning, celebrated the upskilling of yet another group of 104 small business owners and reaffirmed Eskom’s commitment to skills development, job creation and poverty alleviation.
Since 2008, more than 1000 graduates have graduated from the Contractor Academy – which also boasts a 97.7% success rate, with a fair gender representation and a sizeable youth group. Since 2010, Eskom has awarded 623 contracts to the value of R2.7 billion to Academy graduates.
The training programme is offered exclusively to contractors and suppliers wishing to improve their skills in project and financial management, entrepreneurship, legislation and technical acumen. As one of the Eskom Development Foundation’s flagship programmes, the contractor academy forms an integral part of the organisation’s commitment to enhancing the quality of life for as many South Africans as possible.
In delivering his keynote address at the ceremony, the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Dikobe Martins, said government is committed to creating an enabling environment for the economy to thrive and encouraged graduates to go on to build sustainable businesses which would benefit communities. “The challenges of the future lie ahead. Most small businesses fail within the first two years of commencing. This is why the role of mentorship, training and knowledge transfer cannot be undermined. What you have learnt through the Contractor Academy is meant to mitigate the challenges you will face and be the difference between success and failure in your journey,” said Martins
The General Manager for Eskom’s Leadership Institute, Dr Andrew Johnson emphasised that everyone needs to work together to strengthen entrepreneurship, eradicate the barriers for small businesses and break the cycle of business closures. “Entrepreneurs continue to face many challenges, including red tape, a lack of access to finance and credit lines, and generally, the high cost of doing business. The Contractor Academy is our way of supporting emerging small businesses by equipping them with skills in business management to not only grow and sustain their companies, but also to enable them to operate efficiently and effectively in this tough environment,” said Johnson.
Eskom believes that by equipping small and emerging business people with the necessary skills to build sustainable businesses, the country can start addressing some of its socio-economic challenges. By combining both practical and theoretical course work, the academy empowers contractors to be in a better position to negotiate lucrative contracts. The entrepreneurs emerge from the course equipped with the financial, legislative, management, leadership, safety, health and technical skills to grow their business.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, Eskom Board Chairman, Dr Baldwin Ngubane, emphasised Eskom’s commitment to stimulating economic growth by promoting entrepreneurship. “As Eskom, we have long been involved in stimulating the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, particularly black-owned, black women-owned and youth-owned companies, through the creation of opportunities for entrepreneurs to become Eskom suppliers or contractors. The Eskom Contractor Academy, along with many other programmes run by Eskom, is our way of contributing to a better life for South Africans. It is our way of making a meaningful contribution to economic development, which spills over into uplifting many other areas of our lives,” said Ngubane.