Tack­ling eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion tasks

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Ernest Mahlaule

IT IS IM­POR­TANT to re­flect on the im­por­tance of build­ing an in­te­grated econ­omy that would make it pos­si­ble to cre­ate align­ment be­tween what busi­ness and the gov­ern­ment are do­ing to de­velop small and medium en­ter­prises. The need for such align­ment is borne out by the fact that South Africa con­tin­ues to see for­mi­da­ble ob­sta­cles to­wards development of sus­tain­able small busi­nesses, de­spite a con­certed push to cre­ate a vi­brant ecosys­tem for en­trepreneur­ship.

The anal­y­sis of this di­chotomy will be among the key ar­eas of dis­cus­sion at the Jo­han­nes­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try’s (JCCI) an­nual con­fer­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg to­mor­row, as we seek ways to ad­dress some of the ap­par­ent short­com­ings in how South Africa goes about try­ing to drive small busi­ness development, es­pe­cially in the town­ships.

I am heart­ened by the sup­port that our in­ter­ven­tions have re­ceived in this re­gard from the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment, led by Pre­mier David Makhura, who will up­date the con­fer­ence on his plans to cre­ate an in­te­grated econ­omy and build en­tre­pre­neur­ial ca­pac­ity across the prov­ince.

One of­ten-re­peated short­com­ing about the development of town­ship en­ter­prises is the lack of a co­he­sive ap­proach to help big busi­ness iden­tify and nur­ture emerg­ing en­ter­prises that can than be ca­pac­i­tated through in­ter­ven­tions, such as en­ter­prise and sup­plier development.

Granted, the town­ship econ­omy is flour­ish­ing, but not at the level at which South Africa can make a se­ri­ous dent in its un­em­ploy­ment. With this in mind, the JCCI’s is spear­head­ing a se­ries of pro­jects to help strengthen the part­ner­ship be­tween the pri­vate and the pub­lic sec­tors.

Our cham­ber acts as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, en­abler and a plat­form to sup­port the pri­vate sec­tor in ini­ti­at­ing mea­sures to de­velop and sup­port busi­nesses and job-cre­ation.

Some of the ini­tia­tives by JCCI mem­bers are listed be­low.

All of these are pri­vately funded by the busi­ness sec­tor as en­ter­prise and sup­plier-development pro­jects. Our con­fer­ence will see a num­ber of busi­nesses pro­vide a re­view of some of their en­ter­prise-development ini­tia­tives, but here is a snap­shot of some of the ini­tia­tives:

Prop­erty point

De­vel­oped as part of Growth­point Prop­er­ties’ cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment pro­gramme, Prop­erty Point un­locks op­por­tu­ni­ties for SMEs op­er­at­ing in South Africa’s prop­erty sec­tor.

Estab­lished in 2008, the two-year pro­gramme pro­vides en­trepreneurs with the skills, train­ing and per­sonal development sup­port they need to de­velop their en­ter­prises into fully in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies that will up­lift the com­mu­nity through job-cre­ation.

Real pro­cure­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties are un­locked by giv­ing en­trepreneurs ac­cess to Growth­point’s sup­ply chain, thereby en­sur­ing a mea­sur­able im­pact on small busi­ness growth in South Africa.

Prop­erty Point also part­ners with cor­po­rates to as­sist them to make an im­pact through their own en­ter­prise-development pro­grammes.

By de­sign­ing and/or man­ag­ing ini­tia­tives on their be­half, Prop­erty Point en­sures that the cor­po­rates get the best pos­si­ble re­turn on their in­vest­ment.

The in­cu­ba­tor

The in­cu­ba­tor pro­vides SMEs with cus­tomised general busi­ness and ex­port train­ing, as­sis­tance in mar­ket­ing and prod­uct-development, as well as on­go­ing men­tor­ing and in­tro­duc­tions to tar­geted clients un­til they reach their take-off stage. They also par­tic­i­pate in mis­sions and in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions. Ded­i­cated, fully-equipped of­fice space in the JCCI build­ing with sec­re­tar­ial ser­vices, com­put­ers, in­ter­net and wi-fi are made avail­able to in­cu­ba­tees.

Rail pro­gramme

The mem­bers of the JCCI Youth Com­mis­sion are en­gaged in ne­go­ti­a­tions with DCD Rolling Stock, Transnet engi­neers and other stake­hold­ers whereby small black busi­nesses will be trained to help the com­pany in­crease its out­put ca­pac­ity, with the ultimate aim of sup­ply­ing Transnet’s needs.

Skills development

By way of an ex­am­ple Al­viva Hold­ings (for­merly Pin­na­cle Hold­ings) with its sub­sidiary com­pa­nies – Axiz, Pin­na­cle Mi­cro, Dat­a­cen­trix, Cen­trafin and In­fra­sol – have over the past five years em­barked on a mas­sive skills-development process to train the un­em­ployed youth, of­fer in­tern­ships and job op­por­tu­ni­ties, while con­tin­u­ing to up-skill their own em­ploy­ees.

The pro­grammes have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sig­nif­i­cant growth on an an­nual ba­sis. EOH has also em­barked on a youth job-cre­ation ini­tia­tive with 702 as their me­dia part­ner.

There are many other com­pa­nies that are in­volved in sim­i­lar pro­cesses.

And the JCCI calls upon all its mem­bers and stake­hold­ers to make avail­able their premises and fa­cil­i­ties for in­tern­ships and youth-development ac­tiv­i­ties in or­der to ad­dress the coun­try’s mas­sive un­em­ploy­ment chal­lenge.

North meets South West

The JCCI, in part­ner­ship with FNB, launched the North meets South West ini­tia­tive, whereby big busi­ness from Sand­ton and the sur­round­ing ar­eas in the north­ern suburbs travel to Soweto and meet with SMEs in the south west re­gion of Jo­han­nes­burg.

The first break­fast ses­sion took place at the Sakhumzi Restaurant. The event en­ables small busi­ness to es­tab­lish part­ner­ships and ex­plore sup­ply-chain op­por­tu­ni­ties with big busi­ness.

Red farms

This agri­cul­tural in­cu­ba­tor em­ploys the lo­cal com­mu­nity in sus­tain­able farm­ing ini­tia­tives. The farm then sells the pro­duce to the in­for­mal sec­tor at be­low-mar­ket cost. Small-scale farm­ers are given an op­por­tu­nity to ac­cess the mar­ket and sell their pro­duce us­ing the estab­lished in­fra­struc­ture at the Red farms fa­cil­i­ties.

Big Box park

This project will pro­vide low-rental se­cure spa­ces for street ven­dors to mar­ket their prod­ucts safely and ef­fi­ciently. Big Box parks are set in high foot-traf­fic nodes. Each cen­tre uses a com­bi­na­tion of retro­fit­ted ship­ping-con­tain­ers plus bricks and mor­tar.

Knowl­edge cen­tre

JCCI has launched a pub­li­ca­tion, Busi­ness Fo­cus, which is dis­trib­uted in air­port lounges and con­fer­ence cen­tres, cham­ber of­fices, ex­ec­u­tive of­fices, as well as elec­tron­i­cally.

While the pub­li­ca­tion deals with the cut­ting-edge is­sues of our econ­omy, it also serves as a ve­hi­cle through which the good work of the JCCI and its stake­hold­ers is recorded and shared in­ter­na­tion­ally. The pub­li­ca­tion show­cases the var­i­ous en­ter­prise-development pro­jects and the busi­nesses of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The cham­ber sup­ports these and other sim­i­lar pro­grammes as they con­sti­tute some of the key pillars of in­clu­sive eco­nomic participation that can only be achieved by en­sur­ing that as many as pos­si­ble of our pop­u­la­tion are ac­tively en­gaged and ab­sorbed into our econ­omy.

Cham­ber ini­tia­tive

The Meet your Cham­ber First Mon­day ini­tia­tive has be­come a suc­cess­ful in­ter­ven­tion al­low­ing busi­ness own­ers, ir­re­spec­tive of whether or not they are cham­ber mem­bers, to share the is­sues and ob­sta­cles to do­ing busi­ness.

The JCCI, to­gether with its stake­hold­ers, en­sures that the nec­es­sary so­lu­tions are found. It also serves as an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion cov­er­ing a broad range of im­por­tant top­ics.

Trade op­por­tu­ni­ties

Trade ac­tiv­i­ties have been ar­ranged with dif­fer­ent coun­tries. The JCCI with the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment hosted the pres­i­dent and high com­mis­sioner of Namibia late last year. A busi­ness del­e­ga­tion to Namibia fol­lowed for the of­fi­cial launch of the In­vest in Namibia pro­gramme in December, 2016. The pro­gramme seeks to en­hance trade be­tween South Africa and Namibia.

There has since been a B2B fol­low-up ses­sion in South Africa in April, 2017 with some 100 com­pa­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing, re­sult­ing in a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of con­tracts and part­ner­ships.

The process is on­go­ing. There are sim­i­lar en­gage­ments with Asean coun­tries, Rus­sia, Ivory Coast, Zim­babwe, Tai­wan, Turkey and Peru, to men­tion a few. Ernest Mahlaule is pres­i­dent of the JCCI. Visit www.jcci.co.za for more in­for­ma­tion.


Gaut­eng Pre­mier David Makhura is ex­pected to pro­vide the Jo­han­nes­burg Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try con­fer­ence with an up­date on his plans to cre­ate an in­te­grated econ­omy and build en­tre­pre­neur­ial ca­pac­ity across the prov­ince.

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