Port Elizabeth construction company boss Bridgette Gasa has called for a new season of partnership between big companies and SMMEs.
The founder and chief executive of Bay group Elilox said such construction management alliances could grow business for both sectors.
Its about spreading the sunshine finding a partner that does not threaten your organisational culture and with whom you can both benefit. Its about giving a sense of hope.
Gasa said this yesterday during a break at the fifth Construction Management Conference in the city.
Hosted by NMMU and Bloemfontein Central University of Technology, the two-day conference is endorsed by the sector regulator, the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions, and is being coordinated by NMMU Professor John Smallwood.
Gasa said about 80% of the 130000 registered construction management contractors in South Africa were SMMEs.
Most of these firms that had not closed down or moved away after this year challenges had survived by establishing a rapport with larger companies.
This model needed to be capitalised on, she said.
We need a new season for these alliances. Not just project specific ones because then they are time bound we need broader collaborations which empower the new partnership to explore business opportunities across the region in places like Namibia and Mozambique as well.
While big companies could offer technical skills and capital, the SMME could facilitate community engagement and extend the new entity capacity to apply for and service tenders.
Green housing specialist company Rhino group chief executive Brian van Niekerk told the conference about new-generation materials the company was producing from recycling auto industry waste.
These strong but lightweight materials were being used to build, for example, partition walls for student accommodation in old buildings.
Van Niekerk said the company award-winning Rhino House at Crossways, outside Port Elizabeth, was 100% off the electricity grid and the project features, especially its natural cooling and heating measures, would be mainstream in five years.
Master Builders South Africa president Bafikile Simelane said action needed to be taken to address the problem of few students enrolling for construction management and finishing the course.
On the one hand, we need to look at improving teaching of maths and science at high school level and, on the other, we need to make youngsters aware that construction management can also be accessed via artisanal jobs like plumbing, Simelane said.
Marie Mba, a Gabonese masters student from the University of Johannesburg, said the conference had confirmed her belief in the importance of joint ventures, on which she presented a paper.