Italian boost for SME mentors

26 May 2009

The Italian and South African governments have launched an exchange programme for officers of small and medium enterprise (SME) support agencies, involving a five-week course locally followed by a visit to successful SME businesses and projects in Italy.

A result of collaboration between the Italian Trade Commission, the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Business Unity South Africa, the programme is based on an Italian SME model that has been operating successfully for over 30 years.

“It aims to improve knowledge sharing between Italian experts in the field of SME training and South African SME trainees who have been selected from both private and public entities,” the DTI said in a statement earlier this month.


The first stage is a training course in South Africa covering the Italian model of industrial development, based on SMEs and the promotion of their competitiveness in the international marketplace.

This stage includes a visit from international specialists that will include case studies of successful businesses, focusing on the model of Italian “industrial districts” and cooperatives for production and distribution.

In the second stage, South African lecturers will complete a one-week study tour to Italy, with lectures and visits to institutions, consortia, cooperatives and industrial districts.

European, international partnerships

The initiative also aims to enhance SMEs’ internationalisation by creating European and international partnerships, with an analysis of public-private collaboration focusing on Italy’s technology parks, their business models and management.

Training will also entail specific modules dedicated to the Italian mechanical machinery manufacturing excellence and to successful export techniques for SMEs.

“Particular attention will be dedicated to procedures and marketing techniques to successfully export agro-food products to the European markets,” the DTI said.

SAinfo reporter

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