De­vel­op­ing black en­ter­prise is good busi­ness

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Ernest Mahlaule is pres­i­dent of the JCCI. Visit www.jcci.co.za for more in­for­ma­tion. Ernest Mahlaule

SOUTH Africa’s triple-chal­lenge of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment re­quires in­ter­ven­tions that would have a last­ing ef­fect in trans­form­ing the econ­omy and also create a dy­namic en­vi­ron­ment to drive sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive growth.

Al­though there has been sig­nif­i­cant progress to­ward build­ing in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity to tackle these core chal­lenges, there re­mains a for­mi­da­ble dis­con­nect be­tween what is pre­scribed as pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions and ap­pli­ca­tion.

Judg­ing from our re­cent past, it is clear that there is still a lack of com­mit­ment even to some of the most cre­ative so­lu­tions that have been put for­ward through var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to bring mil­lions of South Africans into the main­stream econ­omy.

It is un­for­tu­nate that as a coun­try we con­tinue to see gaps in the way that pol­i­cy­mak­ers and the pri­vate sec­tor go about try­ing to create an en­vi­ron­ment that would pro­vide suf­fi­cient space to in­vest and thus create jobs.

Al­ter­na­tives

If South Africa wished to make even the small­est dent on the un­em­ploy­ment rate, the coun­try, with the help of busi­ness, would need to ex­plore var­i­ous al­ter­na­tives in the way we de­velop and nur­ture small busi­ness.

One of the most crit­i­cal steps in this re­gard is for busi­ness to un­der­stand that cre­at­ing strate­gic part­ner­ships will help the coun­try es­tab­lish a more united front to solve our so­cio-eco­nomic chal­lenges.

This col­lec­tive ap­proach needs to lever­age some of the al­ready ex­ist­ing in­ter­ven­tions, es­pe­cially en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment (ESD).

At the heart of ESD is a re­al­i­sa­tion that de­vel­op­ing black en­ter­prise is good busi­ness for South Africa.

Through en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment, cor­po­rate South Africa should be able to make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion in trans­form­ing the econ­omy by mak­ing strate­gic in­vest­ments that are geared – not in em­pow­er­ing just a few – but to have a last­ing and sus­tain­able im­pact on small and medium en­ter­prises.

En­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment is meant to give cor­po­rate South Africa an op­por­tu­nity to create a legacy of mak­ing strate­gic in­vest­ments that en­able emerg­ing black en­ter­prises to re­ceive sup­port, men­tor­ing and mar­ket ac­cess through a set of clearly de­fined pa­ram­e­ters.

En­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment is a jour­ney not a des­ti­na­tion.

Busi­ness should by no means see it as an in­con­ve­nience or a box-tick­ing ex­er­cise meant just to bump up the BEE scores and look good.

If we are to deal de­ci­sively with the triple-chal­lenge of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment, en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment rep­re­sents the most prag­matic ap­proach for busi­ness to put money where its mouth is.

And that ap­proach in­volves iden­ti­fy­ing black busi­nesses that can be ca­pac­i­tated to de­liver on your pro­cure­ment needs and qual­ify for fi­nan­cial sup­port through a tar­get-ori­ented process that un­locks op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­trepreneurs, whose suc­cess will then be a cat­a­lyst for sus­tain­able growth.

Dur­ing our an­nual con­fer­ence sched­uled for Au­gust 3, 2017, in Jo­han­nes­burg, we are go­ing to fea­ture an in-depth dis­cus­sion about the most op­ti­mal ap­proaches to en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment.

At the end of the day, ev­ery man­ager in­volved in this crit­i­cal space will leave with a road-map to guide their ef­forts..

Prac­ti­cal in­sights

In other words, we plan to pro­vide ac­tion­able and prac­ti­cal in­sights into this im­por­tant as­pect of trans­form­ing our econ­omy so that there is bet­ter delivery, bench­mark­ing and in­te­gra­tion of our chang­ing so­cio-eco­nomic con­text into the in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

We will also share spe­cific case stud­ies about some of the on­go­ing suc­cesses in the field. I be­lieve that the Jo­han­nes­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (JCCI) is best-po­si­tioned to match emerg­ing black busi­nesses with cor­po­rate South Africa to de­liver on en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment the way it was in­tended.

Our project port­fo­lio of as­sist­ing small busi­nesses through­out the years means that we have cu­mu­la­tive ex­pe­ri­ence that big busi­ness can lever­age to iden­tify strate­gic en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

Es­ti­mates put the spend on en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment at more than R20 bil­lion, but the im­pact of this spend­ing on the broader econ­omy has hardly been felt be­cause of the dis­jointed and ad-hoc na­ture of ESD ef­forts thus far.

Done right, en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment has the po­ten­tial to make the South African econ­omy more dy­namic and re­silient. More­over, busi­ness gets to di­ver­sify their sup­plier base, de­velop new growth av­enues, and create an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for small and medium-sized en­ter­prises.

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