Information Sharing with Major Construction Companies and Contract Participation Goal Partners

Umgeni Water is committed to enterprise development and to ensuring Black-owned businesses have a fair and equal opportunity to compete for work that is generated by the organisation through its infrastructure development programme. These commitments are given practical meaning through the convening of supplier forums that are held annually. The 2016 forum was held on 17th March in Waterfall, Durban Outer West. Two sessions were held, in the morning for major construction companies and at midday for small and emerging enterprises, represented mainly by Black-owned businesses. The morning session reiterated Umgeni Waterís need for established businesses to assist and support the Black-owned small business sector by partnering with it, sharing skills and encouraging growth. Another underlying reason for this forum was for participants to identify issues that are hampering growth, affecting relationships and creating tensions.

The midday session produced robust discussion when Black-owned businesses identified how their ambitions to grow and expand were being stifled by seeming ambiguity in roles of major contractors and CPG partners, delays in payment to small companies and frustrations that are created through the awarding of minor contracts to some Black-owned businesses. Some small businesses also complained that certain major contractors did not afford due recognition to CPG partners. A repeated call was made to Umgeni Water to consider paying small contractors directly, rather than their receiving often-delayed payment from major contractors.

These are some of the key points that were made by the Chief Executive in an address to the midday session:

  • Deliberations of this nature (supplier forum) reflect Umgeni Waterís intentions and seriousness to position Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment in the mainstream of economic and business activity in our country. In this way, Umgeni Water will be fulfilling its commitment to redress some of the injustices of the past and also promote equity in how business opportunities are created and made available to Black people.

  • This platform presents an opportunity to raise any issues or challenges faced in partnerships with contractors, consultants and suppliers. Small businesses must show a willingness and enthusiasm to embrace Ė and overcome - these challenges.
  • Umgeni Water is passionate about empowerment because the organisationís leadership is convinced that its accompanying measures will contribute to easing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

  • Umgeni Water has a responsibility to hear from small businesses and facilitate solutions where required in order to improve the environment in which they are working

  • One of the key measures implemented in the organisationís internal transformation process is enterprise development through Contract Participation Goals that require a minimum of 35% of contract value be allocated to targeted enterprises and communities that are earmarked for co-operatives.