South African startup TenderPoint, which last year launched an online construction procurement platform, has hit 5,000 registered contractors and plans to expand across southern Africa.
The self-funded TenderPoint was launched last year by Asa Walesa Mazomba, a quantity surveyor and construction project manager, who set out to solve his own frustrations with the industry.
“TenderPoint came about from experiencing that information bottleneck during my decade as a quantity surveying consultant, and then as a contractor. I became quite familiar with both sides of the equation,” Mazomba told Disrupt Africa.
“As a consultant, I found it difficult to source contractors for projects. Traditionally, I would have to create calls for contractors, which involves publishing in newspapers, giving them 14 to 30 days in which to respond, after which tenders would trickle in. The whole process proved to be extremely manual and complex to manage.”
He also experienced difficulties as a contractor in finding opportunities to bid on.
“You’re essentially bound to reading tender sections in physical newspapers and visiting municipal offices to look over notice boards. Fortunately, I had a network to fall back on during my years as a consultant, but this just underscores how difficult and time consuming it is for emerging contractors to break into the industry.”
Mazomba’s solution was TenderPoint, an online construction procurement platform built for contractors and organisations that deal with contractors on a repetitive basis. The startup aims to introduce effective and efficient e-procurement to the construction industry, addressing the fact current procurement processes are “needlessly antiquated”.
According to South Africa’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), slightly over 80 per cent of contractors in South Africa are emerging contractors who battle to source work opportunities. The work is out there, but Mazomba believes without critical information contractors cannot operate sustainably.
“We’ve seen developments in various countries where they’ve used e-procurement platforms to great effect. So what TenderPoint does is that it has a collective of South African contractors from which government can procure on the platform,” he said.
The startup – which is generating revenue and is in the process of seeking investment – has over 5,000 registered contractors in South Africa, and plans to expand throughout the SADC region. Mazomba says the platform is useful across the board.
“For government, we are more of a publishing platform. We publish opportunities and offer online tracking of the submitted application, so contractors can now apply for tenders online. They’ve shown significant interest in what we’ve done,” he said.
Suppliers, too, will find the platform useful. “We have just launched a supplier’s directory so that suppliers can have access to contractors during the tendering stage. Suppliers generally know that a tender is in the pipeline, but often won’t know who in the industry specifically will be tendering,” Wazomba said. “This will allow suppliers to support contractors in their bids with the purpose of boosting employment and sales for all concerned.”