Building capacity in the SMME sector

Business Skills for South Africa

BSSA training a 'watershed experience'

"Attending BSSA's training course for dti network facilitators was a watershed experience in my career. It was a great learning curve and since completing the training I have taken a completely new approach to addressing my customers' needs." Deon Manuel (centre, back) with (from left) RMI director Joy Oldale, dti BBSDP director Gabriel Makhonxa, dti BBSDP deputy director Petunia Maila, RMI CEO Jeff Osborne and Aleeshen Kitson.

So says Deon Manuel (42), owner of Deman Consulting, a Cape Town-based company which offers SMMEs assistance in accessing professional services. The company also helps SMMEs gain access to corporate clients and formal funding, and has received training specifically for the matching grant fund of the Black Business Supplier Development Programme (BBSDP) of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). These cost-sharing grants are provided to small, black-owned enterprises to assist them in improving their competitiveness and sustainability in the mainstream economy, and creating employment. The programme provides grants to a maximum of R1 million.

BSSA has been contracted to provide business skills training to the independent network facilitators accredited by the dti to assist small enterprises in accessing the BBSDP matching grants, and Deon underwent his training in 2012. He has also completed other training required by the dti.

He started his business in 2008, after working in the information technology (IT) industry for many years. After initially qualifying as a teacher and obtaining a BA Honours degree in Urban Planning and Development at the University of the Western Cape, Deon worked for amongst others IBM and Microsoft for several years before deciding to take the plunge and launch Deman Consulting.

"It was always my plan to have my own business. I started by offering consulting services to smaller IT companies, assisting them in establishing contacts with large corporates," he says.

His company went from strength to strength and now around 80% of his customers are members of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI). Deman Consulting's services expanded to include assisting customers to gain access to funding, and in May 2009, the company became a dti network facilitator. It has a 100% success rate in obtaining BBSDP funding for its customers.

In addition, Deman Consulting has established a key strategic relationship between the dti and the RMI, engaging stakeholders of both organisations in round-table talks that have resulted in positive plans to expedite funding to approved applicants.

Deon says he "benefited immensely" from the BSSA training, both as a dti network facilitator and in his consulting business. "The most valuable aspect to me was learning not just to understand financial statements, but how to interpret them, using this knowledge to make sound business decisions.

"I can now also look at my customers' financials and clearly see what is black and white, and what is grey. I can marry interventions they are looking at to the position their businesses are in. I would recommend the BSSA training wholeheartedly." he says.

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