Transformation does matter
Founder Nargis Gani knows for a Fact that empowering black women builds an economic network, writes Kalay Chetty
When Future Africa Consulting & Training, better known by its acronym Fact, started operating in March 2002, it had only two employees and one client. Now, just more than a decade later, it has 120 employees and 30 clients.
The employment agency, which prefers to be described as a resource management company, has a special focus on business process outsourcing – and sees itself as a mechanism for empowerment and transformation.
“Our goal is to facilitate business to put economic development at the forefront of gender equality in Africa.
“There is a need for black females to build an economic network, and allow that to be a catalyst for change and social improvement,” said founder and managing director Nargis Gani.
“We are actively addressing this through education – upskilling and training initiatives – and directly empowering female-owned businesses through the provision of financial and business development support services.” The road less travelled
With this female-focused approach, it is no surprise that Gani is a member of the Businesswomen’s Association of SA, which profiles itself as the largest and most prominent association of business and professional women in South Africa.
Gani holds strong tertiary qualifications. She has an honours in psychology, a higher diploma in education and a diploma in human resources. From a practical perspective, she has extensive experience in the public and private sectors, which covers a range of industries, including telecommunications, financial services, and information and communication technology.
Future Africa does not follow the mainstream approach to broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE). Instead, it chooses to look at the holistic macroeconomic picture – where true economic transformation means more than just black shareholding and employment equity.
“As a 100% black-owned business that promotes employment equity through our talent acquisition division, we could have sat back and said we were doing enough.
“But enough is never enough, and we have made a concerted effort to focus on other transformational elements, like skills and supplier development,” she said. Spirit of transformation
The company has embarked on several empowerment programmes, like the Telco Techie programme, to assist with transformation objectives in the information and communication technology industry.
“It is aimed at addressing the shortage of skilled female technicians in South Africa. It encourages women to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology by facilitating access to educational information, career opportunities, academic and extramural learning programmes,” said Gani.
The passionate 43-year-old does not see transformation as a benchmark criterion for measuring the company’s success – or even when comparing itself to its competition.
“As soon as we start engaging in transformational initiatives for personal gain or competitor advantage, then the spirit of true transformation dies.
“Of course, we understand that, as a potential supplier, we may be measured on this by our clients, but we believe our differentiation in the industry lies in the quality of our services and the value we add to clients,” Gani explained. Direct effect
Interestingly, the resource management company was motivated to embrace transformation in an attempt to move away from the general large corporate approach it had experienced – of going through the motions of transformation through compulsion rather than actually believing in true empowerment.
“Transformation is at the heart of our company’s approach to business. I would even go so far as saying that the company was founded on the principle of wanting to directly make a positive difference to people’s lives,” she said.
Fact has managed to achieve this. It directly employs more than 100 people and has placed more than 1 500 “people of diversity” through its talent acquisition division in temporary and permanent employment.
“In this way, we are directly affecting job creation and employment equity in our client organisations as well,” said Gani.
This provides tangible evidence that the company is certainly doing its bit to advance economic empowerment in the country.
But Gani has plans to do more. Supplier development
“Our transformation initiatives have always been a natural evolution of the way we do business, but recently we have started to make deliberate efforts.
“Supplier development is a good example of this as we have found that we only have a few black-owned companies that have the potential to be suppliers in our core business.
“There are far more suppliers of noncore services like stationery, health and safety equipment, and general maintenance, among other things. But our priority in supplier development is for our core business,” she explained.
In this manner, the company plans to have a direct effect on job creation, employment equity, investing in communitybased projects and supporting businesses that can add value in its core offering.
Being a value-adding enterprise that is involved directly in transformation, with a particular focus on highlighting and addressing the imbalances of disability in the workplace, forms part of Fact’s plans for the future.
INTO THE FUTURE
Nargis Gani (centre) and her staff are planning a future for Fact in the spirit of transformation