Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

New programme set to help companies to work Smart

A new training programme offered by Belfast City Council could help small businesses crack the tendering code and identify sales opportunities within the public and private sectors.

The Smarter Procurement Programme is open to 10 companies within the Belfast City Council area and will include tailored workshops and mentoring. Five tendering workshops will focus on developing the individual business’s knowledge and ability to respond to procurement opportunities.

A Selling Skills Workshop will further boost the participants’ sales skills needed for each stage of the tendering process.

Participants in the programme will also be allocated an experienced business mentor to provide practical support as well as identify and target new customers.

Alderman Christopher Stalford, chairman of the council’s development committee, said: “Targeting the public sector can be a daunting prospect for many small businesses and social enterprises, and too often the challenges facing these companies can be too challenging and time consuming and require tendering knowledge many are unfamiliar with.

“Through the Smarter Procurement Programme, we aim to support local businesses with no experience in tendering and help them to develop the skills and knowledge which will allow them to enter into this market.”

Michael Walker from The Orchardville Business Centre in east Belfast was a previous participant of the programme: “Taking part in the Smarter Procurement Programme has been of enormous benefit to our business.

“It has given us a level of understanding and insight into the public procurement process that we simply did not possess and has made the identification and submission of tenders for public procurement projects a part of our everyday business activity”.

Lisa Smyth from Mrs Smyth in north Belfast, also found the programme to be beneficial to her business.

“As someone who was daunted by the tender writing process, the programme blew away my preconceptions,” she said.

To take part in the Smarter Procurement Programme, you must have an existing small business or social enterprise based in Belfast, with little or no experience of public sector procurement. The closing date for applications is Friday, August 26.

For further information on the business development programme, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/businessprogrammes or contact the Economic Development Unit on 028 9050 0518.

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