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“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure” (Colin Powell)

The obvious starting points to securing tenders would be the likes of B-BBEE certification and company registration, but from an operational perspective – there are things suppliers can do to find relevant tenders, and to put themselves in a better position to benefit from them.

SMEs with appropriate capability, capacity, experience, and will may benefit by considering tendering for business opportunities, either on their own or in partnership with other SMEs or larger entities. Where an SME has particular skills, competency, experience and so on, they may be in a position to offer a larger organisation a competitive edge in a tender. Winning and completing a tender, either alone or in partnership, benefits the entity putting it on the map and growing its confidence, experience, ability and, hopefully, profitability.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations and institutions to be more proactive and creative. As a result, even the likes of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Pretoria has launched the National SMME Support Portal to help small businesses tender during this difficult period. 

For qualifying small businesses to stand a better chance of securing suitable tenders, they should consider these expert tips:

  1. Start by registering on the right database

    SMMEs should start by registering as suppliers on the Central Supplier Database (CSD). This is a database where all the information, pertaining to all the suppliers that either do business or intend on doing business with the government is kept. Government entities consult this database when looking for suppliers.

    Once registered, small businesses may then be invited to participate both in tenders and also receive Requests for Quotations (RFQs). Of course, it is imperative that an SME has carefully thought through what its qualifications are before tendering.
  2. Check the E-Tender portal

    The government places all the tenders on this electronic portal as the starting point for alerting potential suppliers. This is the first place registered suppliers should peruse for relevant tenders as all municipalities, constitutional institutions and government departments upload their tenders here.

    Another option is to look up tenders in newspapers and government departments’ websites, which is more time consuming.
  3. Consider using tender notification services

    Small businesses can subscribe to tender notification services. These service providers ease the process of searching for the right tenders. These automated services try to match qualifications listed by subscribers with the specifications of the published tenders. These agencies then send the subscribed suppliers notifications of close matches, making it easier for busy SMMEs to compete for suitable tenders.
  4. Verify tenders to avoid scams

    The government has repeatedly advised suppliers to verify tenders before engaging them.

    “Companies are therefore advised to verify all the RFQs and orders by calling the respective departments using the departmental contact details listed on their respective websites to verify authenticity prior to responding to any RFQs or orders to avoid falling prey to these fraudsters”, reads the warning on various governmental websites.
  5. Avoid experiments, avoid implosion

    When looking for relevant tenders, suppliers are advised to look for operations for which they have appropriate experience, ability and capacity to avoid causing their “own demise”.

    SAICA’s Senior Executive: Public Sector, Julius Mojapelo warned “any uncalculated expansion, whether it’s tendering or getting into a new market, will always have risks. The key is, SMMEs should avoid tendering on things they have never done on their own.”

    He further explained that this was simply because government projects are usually on a larger scale.

Ask your accountant to guide you through the lucrative tendering process – don’t be left behind.