Automotive sector enterprise development company Filpro today kicked off a R2 million support programme aimed at growing the competitiveness of 137 informal automotive mechanics in Mdantsane outside East London.
In total 300 people including the employees of the 137 business owners will receive training. The 137 mechanics include 106 motor mechanics, 18 panel beaters, four auto electricians and nine spares shops who received product training in order to improve their revenues and competitiveness. Through the programme, already 80 informal auto mechanics in Gauteng are now qualified trade mechanics through training provided by Filpro partner, the AA Technical Centre. The primary objective of the programme is to uplift informal service centres (backyard mechanics) in previously disadvantaged areas. Filpro was co-founded by automotive parts manufacturers GUD Holdings and NGK Spark Plugs as their contribution in revitalising the township economy.
The programme is offered at no cost to the mechanics. They are provided with workshop tools through a partnership with Atlas Copco. Atlas Copco has provided tools worth more than R4 million to mechanics in Gauteng, KZN and in the Nelson Mandela Bay over the last three years.
“This is the first time this programme is coming to East London. After the Nelson Mandela Bay launch, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) indicated an interest in a partnership with Filpro to roll-out this programme in East London. ECDC helped us identify the 137 mechanics who are receiving product training today such as the treatment of air filters, brake pads and spark plugs. From August this group will receive eight formal training sessions in business management, managing finances and business operations, business plan development, customer service as well coaching and mentoring.
In addition, some of the mechanics will receive business signage and shelter support at no cost to them. For example, in 2018 25 mechanics in Nelson Mandela Bay received tools worth R40 000 per company. These tools include compressors, engine lifters, and bearing presses among others. The ultimate aim is to build the sustainability of these informal businesses and to ensure that money stays within the township and to formalise their operations,” says Filpro managing director Bonnie Magada.
Magada says in order to formalise the businesses of these informal auto mechanics, Filpro will assist them with the registration of their companies. The auto mechanics will only pay the R175 CIPC fee. Further support comes in the form of marketing and facilitating funding support.
Auto mechanic Sifiso Mbi says: “As informal mechanics in the township, a lot of opportunities pass us by. This programme will help us gain recognition and more opportunities.”
Another Mdantsane mechanic Mzwandile Optel says the this programme will equip them with the necessary paper work for them to be recognised by reputable companies.
“We also ensure that they comply with government fleet maintenance regulations and those of insurance companies so that they are competitive enough to get business from these institutions. As a result we have partners such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Department of Labour as well as banking institutions to ensure their competitiveness. In addition, we also take these auto mechanics on factory tours to see how bigger operations conduct business,” Magada explains.
ECDC senior manager for enterprise development Mpumi Fundam says the corporation will be co- funding the programme over a two to three-year period.
“ECDC is committed to co-funding the programme both in financial and in kind support. For example, ECDC will also offer marketing and branding support for the auto mechanics through the corporation’s business support services.
It was only logical that we start the programme in Mdantsane, it being the biggest township in the Eastern Cape. These auto mechanic informal businesses are employment creators and ECDC is committed to supporting any activity that contributes to economic development of the province. The end goal is to build accredited businesses which are compliant and registered with industry organisations,” says Fundam.