The Thekwini Business Development Centre was established in 1997 after the merger of two institutions involved in small business development in the city, namely the Business Opportunity Centre and Grow Your Business.
From the start the TBDC was backed by the eThekwini Municipality as the primary agency engaged in providing support services to the emerging entrepreneurs of the city. These services included advice, business planning and tender assistance, training and mentorship. The TBDC's first chairman was eThekwini Mayor, Obed Mlaba, who took a personal interest in the functioning of the TBDC.
A number of corporates have also provided financial backing and support for the TBDC over the years,the most prominent being Toyota, McCarthy Auto Holdings, Shepstone & Wylie, Standard Bank, Absa Bank, Nedbank, Group 5, BP and Shell.
A highly successful aspect of TBDC's function has been the provision of business premises within the complex at Warwick Junction. A number of businesses have started out in this small business 'hive', some of which have since moved into bigger premises in and around the city.
A notable success of the TBDC is the role the centre played as the Black Empowerment agent for the construction of the Sun Coast Casino and uShaka Marine World. TBDC was engaged to ensure meaningful participation by black empowerment companies in these high profile projects.
TBDC was the first institution to bravely expose BEE 'fronting' where, in some instances, maids were declared to be company directors without their knowledge.
Due to the increasing demand for its services, the TBDC has established two satellite centres at Tongaat and Pinetown to provide entrepreneurs with better access to services.