ALTHOUGH recession is hitting small business very hard, Nafcoc is giving existing business an opportunity to expand with its intensified export programme.
Wayne Bateman, special projects adviser to the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce-Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained how businesses in Gauteng can benefit from the export programme.
Bateman said the programme started in 2007 when former president Thabo Mbeki and finance minister Trevor Manuel saw a need for government to intervene in order to increase the country's export rate.
"It is mainly designed to train and mentor small and medium enterprises for them to enter global markets," said Bateman.
He said an estimated R100million had been brought into the Gauteng economy through exports.
Countries which have trade relations with Johannesburg businesses include Belgium, Cuba, the United States and Zambia.
Any business which has been in existence for more than a year can benefit from the programme. For small business to register with JCCI they need the following:
l be based in Johannesburg and have a maximum turnover of R5million a year;
l registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office;
l have a tax clearance certificate and have been in operation for at least a year in the local market.
Registration is free but the owner of the business must undergo a six-week training programme.
The training is done three hours a night, three nights a week.
"We teach about product packaging, international markets, the pros and cons of international trade, bank regulations and market research. An evaluation is then done on the business's readiness to export," said Bateman.
Between five and 20 entrepreneurs are taken to the country to which their products will be exported to meet their clients and all expenses are subsidised by the Department of Trade and Industry.
"Entrepreneurs first have to exhibit their product in the country where their products will be sold so as to understand the markets and see what their competitors are doing.
"Most of the businesses have succeeded but some have failed and the main reason is the packaging and quality of the products they export.
"The returns are high. Money comes in dollars," Bateman said.
He said the second challenge was capacity.
"A business which produced five thousand items a month suddenly has to manufacture 50000 over the same period," said Bateman.
"We try our best to help the businesses to explore ideas such as using machinery and forming partnerships with people in the same industry in order to meet client demands."