The eThekwini Furniture Cluster (EFC) has launched its Customer Compass Programme, aimed at empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the local furniture sector. This initiative seeks to align its offering with what big customers are looking for, to drive innovation, foster inclusive growth and facilitate transformative change within the industry.

The Customer Compass Programme, which is free to all participants, is set to take place on 28 May 2024 at the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies in Kloof.

Kyle Ballard, head of Accelerators: EFC, says the programme presents a unique opportunity for SMEs to gain valuable insights into leading industry customer standards, as often an SME’s biggest hurdle to market access is meeting the needs of potential customers. “This is precisely why our programme was developed: to provide SMEs with a direct line to industry giants through a facilitated and interactive Q&A session. This allows them to hear firsthand from customers what they are looking for in future suppliers and align their strategies accordingly.”

He adds that beyond networking and obtaining insights directly from prominent customers, eligible SMEs will have the exclusive chance to undergo a comprehensive diagnostic. This includes accessing a world-class business-building tool designed to identify and implement practices, processes, and systems essential for scaling their business. Following the workshop, these SMEs will also receive personalised feedback on their results and gain access to expert coaching and an online learning academy, offering a wealth of resources for further business development.

To be eligible for the Customer Compass Programme, Ballard says SMEs must have a proven operational track record spanning at least two years, a well-defined product/service offering, an established customer base, and access to a laptop/tablet to benefit from the digital business building tools.

Interested SMEs are encouraged to register – at no cost – before 19 April 2024, as spaces are limited and will fill up quickly.

“The Customer Compass Programme aims to equip SMEs with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in our competitive furniture industry. All eligible SMEs are invited to join us on this journey,” Ballard concludes.