New iBhayi chamber to focus on SMMEs

New iBhayi chamber to focus on SMMEs

Small business key to unlocking growth, committee members say

BY DENEESHA PILLAY –19 October 2018

The iBhayi Small Business Chamber committee with Small Business Institute provincial chair Yolande Le Roux, on the left, during a meeting held at the Creative Heartbeat Design Studio in Walmer
Image: Deneesha Pillay

Committee members of the newly formed iBhayi Small Business Chamber believe SMMEs are key to unlocking economic growth in Port Elizabeth and are determined to generate a bigger voice for small businesses in the city.

Still in its inaugural phase, the iBhayi Small Business Chamber will hold its official launch and first networking event at the Protea Hotel on November 6.

iBhayi SBC chair Herman Nell said the focus was on small businesses due to the observable need for representation in the sector.

“Membership will not be limited to small businesses – bigger businesses are welcome to join – but our aim and activities will be aligned with small businesses.

“Small businesses are often limited when it comes to money and capital, so they are the priority,” Nell said.

Committee member David Stopforth said the goals of the iBhayi SBC would be to create networking opportunities, support a free enterprise economy, liaise with local and regional authorities and be the voice for small businesses.

“We want to get this initiative off the ground because we can see how small businesses have generally been neglected and their concerns sidelined.

“We plan to have monthly networking sessions where we can host 100 people to share and market their businesses.

“We want small business owners and employees to interact with each other, share their business cards and generate work, opportunities and projects for each other,” Stopforth said.

Small Business Institute (SBI) provincial chair Yolande Le Roux said there was a clear need in Port Elizabeth to prioritise small businesses.

“The SBI has a focused approach in representing SMMEs.

“The iBhayi Small Business Chamber, together with the SBI on a provincial level, will become the big voice in dealing with the concerns and issues of small business owners.

“On both a national and provincial level, the SBI drives issues related to policy and regulation and being able to access government on behalf of chambers that are created.

“We don’t engage with individual businesses, rather we consult with the chamber that represents them,” Le Roux said.

Membership fees for potential affiliates of the iBhayi SBC vary depending on the number of employees per business:

  • Category A (1-9 staff members) – R600 p/a
  • Category B (10-49 members) – R1,500 p/a
  • Category C (50 or more) – R3,500 p/a.

Nell said the chamber was not looking to work with startup businesses but rather established firms across all industries in Port Elizabeth.

“Even President [Cyril] Ramaphosa agrees that the future is in small business, it’s a matter of developing organisation and structure,” Nell said.

“We [the committee] are all positive about the future.”

Asked why the committee felt the need to start a new business organisation in a city where two large organisations – the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) – already operated, Le Roux said there was no organised business chamber in the metro that specifically focused on small business owners.

“The iBhayi SBC is not meant to be viewed as competition to any other organised business structure, but rather as a complement to what they are already doing,” she said.