A BOOM in small business ventures in Nelson Mandela Bay has brought to Port Elizabeth a unique international concept which provides start-up businesses with a professional image without breaking the bank.
Regus – the world's largest provider of flexible workplaces, among other business solutions – created the concept of a virtual office and recently brought it to Port Elizabeth, in – as far as is known – a first for the Eastern Cape.
Regus Port Elizabeth general manager Christopher Hutchings explained that the Regus virtual office allowed a business owner, whether working from home or on the road, to have a professional image, with a frontline team to manage calls and mail, and the potential to grow into global markets.
"Every virtual-office client receives a business address in a prominent business centre, a frontline team answering all their calls in their name, and a professional environment to meet clients and colleagues," Hutchings said.
In addition to the virtual office, the Regus business centre in Greenacres – which opened last month – also has world-class serviced office space, conference facilities and high-tech equipment, including HD video conferencing, which allows local and international business and mobile workers to have access to flexible workspace.
Hutchings said this meant Regus clients, especially those starting up, could set up a professional business instantly without forking out for the rent of office space, furniture, IT infrastructure, telecommunications, reception staff, building insurance, maintenance, repairs, utilities, cleaning staff or security.
Regus South Africa chief executive Joanne Bushell said the launch of the Port Elizabeth centre meant local and international businesses and mobile workers had access, for the first time, to flexible workspace "in this major seaport".
"They can use it to grow local business, work better on the move, or establish a presence in Port Elizabeth – using physical workspace or a virtual office here," Bushell said.
"Regus is creating new business avenues in Port Elizabeth for companies of all sizes. They can work closer to contacts or customers in the automotive or shipping industries; explore opportunities in the industrial development zone or move to pay-as- you-use office space, all without locking themselves into inflexible premises deals."
Regus has a presence in 95 countries across the globe.
Each centre also has a business lounge which provides a professional environment – with internet access, refreshments and other services – to work from on the go. Each client receives a "businessworld" card which allows them access to any of these drop-in business lounges in more than 1000 locations around the world.
Bushell said opening more business centres in South Africa was definitely in the pipeline.