EU, ITC Train Business Support Organizations on Corporate Governance and Project Management

The European Union (EU) and International Trade Centre (ITC) have trained Business Support Organizations (BSOs) on corporate governance and project management to strengthen their capacities to improve their service delivery to Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning economies to become more competitive in global markets.

The training is expected to subsequently strengthen the capacity and competitiveness of BSOs and MSMEs to enable them to take advantage of the trade opportunities presented by the EU under the Southern African Development Community-European Union Economic Partnership Agreement (SADC-EU EPA).

The training coordinated by the ITC with support from the EU spanned over two days at Mountain View International Hotel in Mbabane.

The first training on governance was held on the 26th of September 2023 and the second training on Project Management on the 27th of September 2023.

Both trainings were delivered by Professor Owen Skae who is the Project Advisor to the ITC local projects.

They covered core principles of project management which included project planning and managing project scope, time management techniques, cost management and budgeting, risk assessment and management, team management and leadership skills, project communication techniques, and good governance principles to mention only but just a few. 

The participants were from various institutions, including the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (ESWADE), National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD), Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP), COMESA Federation of Women in Business (COMFWB), Ufalme PTY Ltd, Hospitality and Tourism Association of Eswatini (HOTAES), Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO), Women Farmer Foundation (WFF), Eswatini Coffee, Far East Textiles-Vukani BoMake Project, Eswatini Multi-Purpose Cooperative Union (ESWAMCU), Guba Permaculture Education Centre and Eswatini National Agriculture Union (ESNAU).

ITC Project Operations Manager, Mawenzi Dlamini, said the main objective of the training was to build the capacity of Business Support Organizations and MSMEs in Governance and Project Management.

“Specifically, the training seeks to enhance the BSOs’ understanding of project management and governance principles to enable them to manage their different projects efficiently and effectively,” he said.

Eswatini Multi-Purpose Cooperative Union (ESWAMCU) Business Development Officer, Sakhile Dlamini, stated that the training was very relevant for them, especially on governance and leadership, because they are facing a huge leadership and governance challenge in their cooperative’s members.

“For instance, some members are elected to the board without any skill or knowledge in leadership and they end up interfering in the operations of the organization while they have to play an oversight role on how the manager is managing the strategic plan and other activities associated with the cooperative,” he explained. 

With that said, Dlamini said they are hoping to get further support to package the governance training to teach their cooperatives as well. 

He commended the way Professor Owen Skae delivered the training. “It was delivered very clearly and the content was very easy to understand. Even the examples he used were very clear and relevant. We felt like he was speaking to our cooperative movement,” he said. 

Big Game Parks Business Processes, Yolanda Lauestein, said the governance training gave her a new perspective on corporate governance.

“I realized that we have a different understanding of corporate governance, but today it was simplified to make us understand that it is all part of leadership,” she said.   

Regarding the project management training, Women Farmer Foundation (WFF) Programmes Officer Ayanda Nkambule said she strongly believes that the training she has received will help her manage their programs better.

“I have learned new tools that I can use to make our programmes implementation easier and to be time effective,” she said. The WFF has several programmes including the Youth Tunnel Production Project, Women in Agriculture Empowerment Program, and Upscaling Adult Women and Female Youth Farmer’s Agri-business Development Skills. 

Speaking at the official closing of the training, the EU Head of Cooperation Eva-Maria Engdahl congratulated the participants for their commitment to complete the training.

“Your commitment to your roles and your desire to improve is inspiring, and I am confident that you will use in the best way the knowledge and skills you have gained here,” she said. “As the EU, we are looking forward with excitement to see the positive impact that this training will have on the implementation of your various projects,” she further stated.

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