Following a two-month export training course, Rhulani Maluleke secured a contract with a Mozambican state agency to build a coal laboratory in Mozambique.

He is one of more than 5,000 businessmen and women who have benefited from an export-readiness initiative launched three years ago by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Maluleke’s company, Hope Coal Services, develops coal-processing plants. In 2015, he completed an exporting course through the Small Enterprise Development Agency that he says gave him a better understanding of export insurance and customs requirements.

The global exporter licence initiative, launched in 2013, forms part of the department’s National Exporter Development Programme, which aims to double SA’s exports to 1% of world share. SA’s share of global exports fell 40% between 1985 and 2014, according to the World Trade Organisation.

The department’s deputy director-general of Trade and Investment SA, Pumla Ncapayi, says that between 2013 and March 2016 a total of 5,028 entrepreneurs and companies benefited from the training programme including 2,664 enterprises and entrepreneurs who have never exported before. Just more than 90% of all trainees were from small and medium-sized enterprises, with black-owned firms making up 70% of beneficiaries and female-owned companies 38% of beneficiaries.

The global exporter licence contains five training modules. These range from a one-day introductory workshop to a two-month module on how to expand exporting through the development of a practical export plan. The training is provided free.

Ncapayi says the department has signed memoranda of understanding with six provincial economic development departments to ensure the successful implementation of the National Exporter Development Programme. Agreements are being finalised with the remaining provinces.

The department also works with 19 established industry export councils tasked with export promotion and development in their industries.

The department is developing learning content for the fifth module of the programme, which focuses on assisting companies with vast experience in export markets to increase their market penetration and to enter new markets. Ncapayi expects course material to be finalised and ready for implementation from April 2017.

Ncapayi says many people who complete the training have been recruited to participate in the department’s export promotion activities including outward selling missions, international trade initiatives as well as national pavilions.

The training may help deal with a major challenge identified in a 2014 evaluation of the department’s Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme, which reimburses some of the costs exporters incur to attend exhibitions and meetings with buyers.

An evaluation, by DNA Economics for the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, revealed that many companies that accessed the incentives were not export-ready and were unable to use the support. A third of beneficiaries reported having made no exports in the 2012-13 year, but more than 35% of them used the scheme 11 times or more.

But Ncapayi points out that of the 1,273 companies that benefited from the scheme in the past financial year to the tune of R150.8m, 69 attended the Global Exporter Passport Programme.

Bradley McPerson, who runs Gauteng chemical manufacturing company Bradchem, says he found the course "quite informative" and learned how to handle costing and customs duties.

He has attended three one-week courses in the past two years. Since then he has been to trade shows, in Zimbabwe, Cuba and Mozambique — where he secured new clients.

Ncapayi says the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme has helped companies to participate in 32 trade and investment missions and 31 national pavilions, which translated into export sales valued at R5.5bn.

The department has overhauled some of the scheme’s rules, and small businesses no longer need to submit audited financial statements to gain entry into the programme. A bank statement will now suffice.

The thresholds up to which beneficiaries can claim have been adjusted in line with price increases and the recent fall in the value of the rand.

The department will now cover a maximum value economy class return air ticket not exceeding R30,000, up from R25,000. The daily subsistence allowance for accommodation of R2,300 per person has been increased to R3,000.


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