South Africa’s business social network connecting entrepreneurs with procurement opportunities Opentenders has welcomed the Government’s e-tender portal, which was launched last month during the Budget Speech.
OPENTENDERS Co-Founder & COO, Mnive Nhlabathi said: “We are excited about this new Government portal as it makes our business easier and does not impact on the extra services our portal offers, such as SMME project finance and skills development.”
During his speech Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced that Government would implement a central tender portal from April this year. Minister Nene said: “It will be compulsory that all (public) tenders be advertised on this portal, and all tender documents will be freely available there. Tender advertisements in newspapers and the government gazette will be phased out.”
Nhlabathi said: “OPENTERDERS.com offers four main services, our instant email notifications of tender and procurement opportunities from government and the private sector in South Africa and selected African countries. Project finance for qualifying SMMEs, business-to-business online networking service and training in the area of tendering and procurement.
“The challenge our business has had with SA government tenders is sourcing tenders from over 600 different Government entities. Our service requires us to load these tenders onto our platform and arrange them into sectors before we can send out the tender notification to our members, as per the sectors they have identified,” he said.
“The launch of a central e-portal creates room for collaboration with Government and access to a wider range of procurement opportunities for our members. This will save us time, effort and money, which we can then invest in sourcing more private sector opportunities for our members and increasing our footprint throughout Africa,” said Nhlabathi. “We believe this will positively influence our business, and we’re excited about the opportunities it will bring.”
OPENTENDERS was established when Nhlabathi, Sivu Maqungo and Madoda Khuzwayo, all successful entrepreneurs in their own right, wanted to work towards creating a platform that connects entrepreneurs with procurement opportunities from Public and Private sector on a global scale.
“This is a major challenge to our economy,” said Nhlabathi, referring to an Adcorp report done in 2012. The report stated that the number of business start-ups in South Africa was at an all-time low. It reported the closure of 440 000 small business over the past five years. The gravity of the situation is emphasized by the fact that, according to the report, 68% of all South African workers are employed by small business employing fewer than 50 people. Given that the typical small business employs 12 people (aside from the owner-manager), a revival of this sector could potentially create 5.3 million jobs.
“We believe that assisting entrepreneurs have a better chance at becoming successful by providing them with the opportunities to do so – i.e. financing qualifying SMMEs, linking SMMEs that can cooperate successfully on tenders, and providing training – is the best way to address the staggering unemployment in our country,” he said.
According to Nhlabathi and his co-founders, the key difference between OPENTENDERS and Government’s new portal, is that OPENTENDERS is a B2B social network platform that affords small businesses an opportunity to connect and trade with each other and expand their business on a global scale. As an add-on it also offers open Government and private sector tenders. This allows any business to easily track available opportunities within all sectors of their interest.