SAP carves up em­pow­er­ment with a dif­fer­ent tack

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY GUGU LOURIE

Un­like broad-based black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment (BBBEE) schemes, which are of ten crit­i­cised for mak­ing a few peo­ple very rich, Ger­man soft­ware firm SAP is cre­at­ing a new way to em­power South Africans.

As part of gov­ern­ment ef­forts to rec­tify the neg­a­tive ef­fects of apartheid, firms op­er­at­ing in South Africa are com­pelled by law to meet black own­er­ship tar­gets.

To com­ply with the leg­is­la­tion, SAP will is­sue 19.5% shares to the SAP South Africa Em­pow­er­ment Trust, which will “ben­e­fit its ben­e­fi­cia­ries con­sist­ing of pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged black stu­dents”.

For now, the Ger­man com­pany isn’t dis­clos­ing the size of div­i­dend it will pay to the trust. SAP South Africa ben­e­fi­cia­ries are not re­quired to pay for the deal.

In­stead, the stu­dents will use the div­i­dends paid to the trust by SAP South Africa to set­tle their fees for stud­ies fa­cil­i­tated by the Jo­han­nes­burg-based Ma­har­ishi In­sti­tute SA.

The In­sti­tute, founded in 2007, aims to make ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion ac­ces­si­ble to all.

CEO Dr Taddy Blecher be­lieves that the deal done by SAP South Africa will fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion is a game-changer for the in­sti­tute.

“We are a non-profit group that has ex­clu­sively served dis­ad­van­taged in­di­vid­u­als for years with a fo­cus on youth in South Africa,” ex­plains Blecher.

“We have seen the power of fa­cil­i­tat­ing ac­cess to post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, bring­ing em­ploy­ment to over 14 000 [pre­vi­ously un­em­ployed] in­di­vid­u­als who are now bread­win­ners for over 70 000 fam­ily mem­bers,” says Blecher.

He adds that the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the SAP South Africa Em­pow­er­ment Trust will in­crease this num­ber.

“We will change the lives of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries by giv­ing them mean­ing­ful life skills and bring­ing them into the in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sec­tor and the wider cor­po­rate busi­ness world in South Africa and the global econ­omy.”

The move to i ssue shares to a trust will bol­ster SAP South Africa’s em­pow­er­ment cre­den­tials. It will also en­able the Ger­man f irm to meet the re­quired 30% own­er­ship tar­get stip­u­lated by the BBBEE codes ap­pli­ca­ble to IT firms op­er­at­ing in South Africa.

SAP South Africa has 10.5% own­er­ship via BLITEC, a broad-based black IT com­pany.

The Ger­man-based com­pany could have elected to sell an ad­di­tional stake to BLITEC, but in­stead choose to fo­cus on sus­tain­able eco­nomic self-suf­fi­ciency – a com­mend­able move con­sid­er­ing other tech­nol­ogy multi­na­tion­als are strug­gling to com­ply with South Africa’s BBBEE pol­icy.

The sec­ond BBBEE deal done by SAP South Africa through its trust and the Ma­har­ishi In­sti­tute is worth em­u­lat­ing if it de­liv­ers on its prom­ise to em­power huge num­bers of South African youths through ed­u­ca­tion.

Some BBBEE deals haven’t de­liv­ered on prom­ises to com­mu­ni­ties and some of them have been used by po­lit­i­cally con­nected i ndiv i duals t o en­rich them­selves.

How­ever, the SAP South Africa Em­pow­er­ment Trust prom­ises that the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the trust will have ac­cess to busi­ness de­grees and ex­po­sure to SAP South Africa. They will be equipped with “real world” tools they need to be­come po­ten­tial lead­ers and busi­ness own­ers.

SAP Africa’s CEO Pfungwa Ser­ima says: “SAP is pas­sion­ately driv­ing the Africa in­no­va­tion tech­nol­ogy agenda by fo­cus­ing on skills devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives that re­sult in sus­tain­able and mean­ing­ful em­pow­er­ment of pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged per­sons. Strate­gic skills devel­op­ment trans­lates into job cre­ation.

“We iden­tif ied t he Ma­har­ishi In­sti­tute be­cause of its long-term track record of suc­cess in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the devel­op­ment of skills so that grad­u­ates get more than a piece of pa­per post-train­ing and ac­quire the life skills and at­ti­tudes es­sen­tial for the fast-chang­ing tech­nol­ogy arena in the 21st cen­tury.”

Pfungwa Ser­ima

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.