The Downstream Aluminium Centre of Technology (DACT) is situated in Richards Bay and focuses on supporting businesses in the aluminium-related industry.
The DACT project consists of the establishment of a R8 million facility where trained students from the local Downstream Aluminium Pilot Project are able to set-up their own aluminium-related business ventures with the support of the centre. The DACT facility consist of a number of workshops, equipped with start-up kits and machinery, storerooms and a showroom, as well several support services such as bookkeeping, cleaning and catering that are provided by supplementary entrepreneurs.
Specifically aimed at the establishment of aluminium casting businesses, the incubator aim to provide the bridge post training and prior to operating own businesses independently grow trained aluminium castors to independence. The project has secured a popular product range of garden furniture, filigree work, gates, fences, balustrading and the like. The range is being produced by bona fide entrepreneurs in the DACT building, where staff and trainees work hand in hand to produce the quality range.
DACT forms part of a greater business initiative at the Zululand Chamber of Business Foundation that endeavours to provide a real profitable business environment where practical and theoretical training can be undertaken, and where trainees can experience the complete spectrum of activities associated with the technology they are being trained in. In essence, this must enable and empower them to successfully enter the labour market or establish business ventures as entrepreneurs.
Infrastructure and capital developments have been one of the main focus areas ever since the offset of the project. In conjunction with socio-economic development, a specific emphasis is placed on business development. Local economic development is also targeted with the assistance of the municipality, local and national government, in order to create an environment wherein the businesses can survive and prosper. Ultimately the aim is the create jobs and improve the quality of life of project participants and their respective communities.
The overall intention is to establish SMME's in the aluminium casting business, producing items for the local and international market using readily available material. Training is provided, infrastructure and premises for operation available, and mentorship both technical and business, provided to fledgling entrepreneurs. Candidates for training are carefully selected, as their entrepreneurial flair, learning potential and three dimensional aptitude are amongst the traits assessed.
A future objective is to manufacture more technologically advanced products, but the main goal remains to spawn businesses, create jobs and support economic activity. Several opportunities currently exist for the establishment of various spin-off incubators within the industry.
The project has secured a popular product range of garden furniture, filigree work, gates, fences, balustrading and the like.
The DACT main objective remains to enable local entrepreneurs to beneficiate the primary product of aluminium, something that is rarely done in South Africa, this in itself is an innovation of the project. Tied into this concept, is the idea of not only training the entrepreneurs but providing a second tier and incubation period for the entrepreneurs providing all necessary resources for a specified period of time to give them the best possible chance of succeeding.
This project has the potential to tap into big international markets having an impact on the flow of foreign capital into the country, and increase investment thus alleviating unemployment and poverty