Trans­for­ma­tion does mat­ter

Founder Nar­gis Gani knows for a Fact that em­pow­er­ing black women builds an eco­nomic net­work, writes Kalay Chetty

CityPress - - Busi­ness -

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.

PHOTO: ELIZ­A­BETH SE­JAKE

INTO THE FU­TURE

Nar­gis Gani (cen­tre) and her staff are plan­ning a fu­ture for Fact in the spirit of trans­for­ma­tion

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