Shared service support system

AN INNOVATIVE new business model is already proving its worth to emerging companies in construction and related sectors which, until now, have lacked the necessary resources to take advantage of the opportunities created by the infrastructure boom, writes Erica Webster.

AN INNOVATIVE new business model is already proving its worth to emerging companies in construction and related sectors which, until now, have lacked the necessary resources to take advantage of the opportunities created by the infrastructure boom, writes Erica Webster.

Developed and initiated by Mafuri Infrastructure Africa, the model brings together the integral elements of business - marketing and sales, human resources, finance, IT and operations - to create an incubated environment in which small companies can thrive.

CEO Bernard Magabe says many emerging companies, unlike their larger counterparts, don't have the professional expertise, finance or support they need to derive optimal benefit from the existing massive demand for infrastructure projects.

"It has been a particularly challenging time for small scale contractors and black professional companies such as architects, quantity surveyors, engineers, land surveyors and the like," he says.

"Evidence suggests that joint ventures aren't a viable option, offering little or no growth for the smaller partner who is inevitably overpowered by the bigger company. As a result, many have had to depend on subcontracting to bigger companies for their survival."

Clearly the current practice of individual entities battling on their own is having little impact on skills development in the infrastructure arena, says Magabe.

"In most instances these companies fold as they are unable to overcome the many obstacles they face. One of their greatest hurdles is not understanding standard business procedures, which make them vulnerable to exploitation.

The Mafuri incubation programme takes a collective approach, allowing professionals to focus on what they do best, whether it be project management, architecture or engineering, while having the advantage of a shared service support system.

Recognising that most small contractors lack the financial, HR, IT and business administration skills necessary to run a large- scale project, Mafuri has partnered with a range of Seta-accredited training providers to develop their skills and thus ensure these businesses fulfil the necessary requirements, which would ultimately allow them to operate independently.

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