SAACI: The value, and concern, for SMMEs

Meetings Africa has become a crucial trade show for the conferencing industry across the continent, says South African Association for the Conferencing Industry (SAACI) ceo, Rudi van der Vyver, who sees the educational and certification sessions held during the Bond Day as being of utmost importance.

“This is a vital component in our strategy to drive true professionalism in the conferencing industry, across Africa,” he says.

Van der Vyver agrees with Andre Turnbull, gm of Lagoon Beach hotel in Cape Town, that one of Meetings Africa 2019’s successes lay in the quality of the meetings. Van der Vyver says that in discussion with various SAACI members and attending exhibitors, the feeling was that the meetings had been much better and more fruitful than in previous years.


SMME benefits and concerns

SAACI has had a tradition of opening its annual congress registrations at Meetings Africa every year, which was successfully launched at this year’s show. More than this, Van der Vyver says some of the most valuable interactions he had was with new companies and SMMEs.

“As SAACI we also had very valuable interactions with not only our current members but specifically some start-ups and SMMEs who were present at the show. We were able to answer some of their questions and provide them with guidance on the next steps in their growth as a valuable industry player. The platform provided by Meetings Africa is truly the overarching benefit here, bringing likeminded people together for collective growth through collaboration.”

Van der Vyver says the excitement of the SMMEs who were invited and hosted on some of SA Tourism’s provincial pavilions, as well as the country pavilions from other African countries, stood out for him.  The hunger and drive of these SMMEs were very encouraging as well as the level of conversations. It was great to see that the vetting process for applications for assistance to be hosted on these pavilions appear to have been tightened up in terms of having quality exhibitors on the floor.”

One issue that did arise in discussions was how some SMMEs still feel government could be doing more to assist them.

Van der Vyver says that seeing SMMEs hosted by their local tourism authorities is already a move in the right direction.

“One element that came up with a few [SMMEs] is their access and ability to successfully win tenders within specific geographical areas,” says Van der Vyver.

This is especially prevalent in in areas just outside one of the country’s major metropoles. SMMEs in these areas are often overlooked for tenders, with players from the major cities given preference, even when events are hosted in the SMMEs’ local area. “We need to remain level headed though, as any event has a certain quality standard that must be met,” says Van der Vyver. “We are working with our various governmental stakeholders to start incorporating more effective skills transfer and upliftment principles. For example, with larger events providing the SMMEs with the ability to work in collaboration with a larger more experienced organiser, to then upskill them and build their portfolio to a point where they will have the expertise to run a larger event themselves successfully.”



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