The Eskom Contractor Academy addresses the national imperative to increase the number of functional small and medium enterprises, while also improving the quality of businesses that Eskom can procure from. This initiative aims to build the capacity of historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, particularly youth and black women, to compete in the formal economy.
- The Academy has a strong business alignment, working with businesses on Eskom’s procurement list.
- Regular monitoring and evaluation processes help to ensure programme quality.
- The Eskom brand receives excellent exposure through this initiative, with 89% of beneficiaries reporting good perceptions of the company.
Owners of small and medium enterprises participate in an eight-month programme, attending classes for one week a month, during which time they are provided with accommodation, transport and computers. Established in 2007, the programme is run by Edupark, a non-profit company established by the University of Limpopo and funded by the Eskom Development Foundation (EDF). There is a low entry threshold, with minimum requirements set at a Matric certificate or equivalent, South African identity document and proof of business registration. The intensive curriculum emphasises holistic business development that can contribute to the country’s economy, with training in business, people, financial, project, supply chain and SHERQ (safety, health, environment, risk and quality) management. In addition, when relevant, the curriculum aims to equip graduates to secure procurement opportunities through Eskom.
Regular monitoring and evaluation processes help to ensure programme quality. Edupark monitors the attendance, results, finances and logistics of the programme and produces an annual Academy report for the Eskom Foundation. Edupark and the EDF have monthly feedback meetings to ensure optimal functioning of the programme and supporting elements.
A beneficiary study, conducted by Eskom’s procurement division in 2013, found that 118 Academy graduates had secured R1.2 billion in Eskom contracts. Overall, beneficiaries rated the Academy well and 96% said that they would recommend it to others.
There are nine provincial and six local academies located at key Eskom operational areas, such as the Medupi and Kusile power plants. To ensure consistency in the quality of teaching, lecturers, who are paid market-related salaries, rotate between academies.
The Academy has a strong business alignment, working with businesses on Eskom’s procurement list. It is also strongly linked to the geographic footprint of Eskom, with six of the 15 academies located at Eskom strategic locations. Eskom also provides a procurement trainer to teach the Eskom procurement module.
A reasonable portion of beneficiaries are young and female, fulfilling BBBEE requirements for enterprise and socioeconomic development.
The Eskom brand receives excellent exposure through this initiative, with 89% of beneficiaries reporting good perceptions of the company. Media coverage and advertorials have also been used by Eskom to promote the Academy and its benefits.
External evaluation provides a snapshot of achievements
- The Academy has been well designed and conceived.
- The programme is well implemented, with excellent attendance, pass and retention rates.
- Engagement, buy-in and organisation is rated highly.
- Strong management ensures high quality deliverables.
A WORD FROM THE JUDGES
Business strategy does not need to be ‘off the wall’ exciting – it needs to be effective – which this project clearly is. The international exposure and success gives it an added advantage. The project, which has strong social and business benefits, is intensively managed and, as a result, the submission provided substantial evidence of impact.