Business owners on the NorthCoast received a huge boost last week following the launch of the ILembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (ICCIT) Business Support Centre aimed at providing essential assistance to revive and stimulate the local and provincial economy.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial government MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu officially opened the centre based at the Ballito chamber offices and congratulated the Chamber on taking the initiative.
He said in countries like Malaysia, India and Indonesia 99% of the gross domestic profit comes from small business and the provincial government wanted to encourage all current and aspiring business owners to make use of this excellent resource.
ICCIT chief executive officer Trenley Tilbrook said the business support centre has been established primarily to help grow and develop small businesses that would assist in creating the much needed jobs in South Africa.
“This has the opportunity to decrease unemployment and to be at the forefront of positive change in South Africa,” said Tilbrook.
The idea to establish a Business Support Centre has emerged as a direct result of the Entrepreneur Competition started in 2011 as a joint venture partnership between African Bank, Enterprise ILembe and the ICCIT.
“The Entrepreneur Competition highlighted the demand for small business assistance centred on basic business advice. Currently the competition only provides this service to the top finalists – yet more could benefit if it was extended to all,” said Tilbrook.
The Business Support Centre will now provide a free all-in-one service to local business community including elements such as a help desk, resource centre, seminars, skills training and workshops, networking and mentorship.
Talking about the help desk, Tilbrook said this will be a front line service at the ICCIT offices and will have the ability to address, refer and provide guidance on issues such as how to set up a small business and register it, tax returns, the development and preparation of a business plan, accessing business finance and more.
“Most business owners rely on credible information to make decisions. The Centre will research and disseminate relevant data through the website, email and other tools. The information will include subject such as changes to legislation, market research and business reports and statistics,” he said.
Information compiled by the resource centre will then be made available to the local business community through low-cost workshops, information sharing sessions and networking.
“Keeping up to date with a rapidly changing business environment is vital for all business owners. The Support Centre will help to address this need through hosting seminars, workshops and information sessions.”
Networking, mentorship and training and skills development will also be provided.
Tilbrook thanked the sponsors, Department of Economic Development, Ithala Bank, SembCorp Siza Water, Tongaat Hullet, Black Balance Projects and the KingShakaInternationalAirport for their support of the project.
All services given at the support desk is free, confidential and available to anyone interested in starting a business for the first time or improving an already existing business. The centre is based at the ICCIT offices at Unit 11, The Quarter, 1 Stewart drive BallitoBusinessPark.