Unathi Njok­weni-Magida, En­gen’s Head of Trans­for­ma­tion & Stake­holder En­gage­ment, has crit­i­cised cor­po­rates which don’t em­brace black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment, say­ing that growth re­lies on it

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Njok­weni-Magida has a back­ground in in­dus­trial psy­chol­ogy and neu­rolin­guis­tic pro­gram­ming, which has en­sured a me­thod­i­cal, but em­pa­thetic ap­proach to her work. She’s led En­gen’s trans­for­ma­tion port­fo­lio since 2013 and is up­beat about the com­pany’s pro­gres­sive at­ti­tude and suc­cesses.

At least 46% of its ser­vice sta­tions are black-owned, 10% are owned by women and – most im­pres­sively – pro­cure­ment from black-owned busi­nesses has grown from 4% to 44% since 2011.

Pro­cure­ment from black fe­male-owned busi­ness is also on the rise, hav­ing grown from 1% to 31% since 2011.

En­gen’s strat­egy was aimed at cham­pi­oning in­clu­sive and di­verse busi­ness mod­els that at­tract “all kinds of tal­ent and wis­dom across the race and gen­der spec­trum”.

“Com­pa­nies that say they can’t find suit­able black tal­ent sim­ply aren’t try­ing hard enough. We’ve just been

through two decades of grow­ing peo­ple in this coun­try. If you’re com­mit­ted to trans­form­ing your busi­ness, you’ll find the right peo­ple who are suit­ably qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced. If you’re not look­ing, you won’t see them,” she de­clares.

She be­lieves that with an au­then­tic trans­for­ma­tion strat­egy, com­pa­nies can eas­ily pen­e­trate emerg­ing sec­tors like town­ships and ru­ral ar­eas.

“We’ve in­her­ited a very awk­ward legacy in SA, where the in­come di­vide is so wide that in or­der to cre­ate a nor­mal so­ci­ety, ev­ery com­pany needs to do its bit. In terms of growth, we have an emerg­ing mar­ket which com­prises about 88% of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion – a huge mar­ket op­por­tu­nity! So it’s about growth, op­por­tu­nity and just do­ing the right thing,” she adds.

In terms of em­pow­er­ing poli­cies, her ad­vice to other com­pa­nies is to “fix their in­ter­nal cul­ture”. “You need to put in good sup­port­ive mech­a­nisms, poli­cies and pro­ce­dures. For in­stance, we’ve looked at how we put ten­ders out there. When we score any com­pany, BBEEE com­pli­ance and com­mit­ment are part and par­cel of what we mea­sure.”

En­gen also in­clu­sively sets tar­gets for each busi­ness unit in terms of em­ploy­ment eq­uity, skills devel­op­ment, pref­er­en­tial pro­cure­ment and so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

“We’re care­ful to pace it in a way that’s palat­able and pro­gres­sive. Many com­pa­nies don’t em­brace trans­for­ma­tion be­cause it’s forced upon them as a com­pli­ance tool. You have to make sure you ‘dance’ with it and adapt ideas, so that it’s sus­tain­able.” In ad­di­tion, the most crit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions are those that are eco­nom­i­cally sound and pro­vide sus­tain­abil­ity and fi­nan­cial sup­port. En­gen’s Con­voy Fund is ded­i­cated to black en­trepreneurs and pro­vides the nec­es­sary boost in terms of equip­ment and cap­i­tal ex­penses.

“If you can grow the first level of strong busi­nesses, you’ll get into the sec­ond layer know­ing you’ve suc­cess­fully in­te­grated the first co­hort. It’s im­por­tant that com­pa­nies don’t just pro­vide growth fi­nance and walk away. When we fund com­pa­nies, we must make sure we pro­vide busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties to those SMEs and sup­port them un­til they can firmly stand on their own. You get to cre­ate an in­dus­try with co-de­pen­dent small busi­nesses, all sup­port­ing each other and grow­ing to­gether.” –

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