Absa proactively gets SMEs to link up with large companies

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Today’s investment in Enterprise Development is Tomorrow’s Secured Supply

Absa Group, in collaboration with Supply Chain Network and Smart Procurement World, hosted the inaugural Enterprise Development Expo 2012, which aims at creating a significant platform for procurement, sourcing and supply management for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The event saw the public and business sectors showcasing over 400 of their leading black-owned suppliers.

The conference also came at an opportune time as government has called for the amendment of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act and the Codes of Good Practice which need to be revised to encourage symbiosis between large and small companies.

“Whilst this poses many challenges for big business, there are already a number of excellent initiatives taking place in leading organisations to ensure sustainable development of SMEs. One of the key ways in which growth and development is also achieved is by providing SMEs with access to new markets,” said Absa Head for Enterprise Development Sisa Ntshona.

Ntshona, who spoke on business linkages as a strategy for developing SMEs, pointed out that the conference afforded black-owned SMEs highly-rated by their clients an excellent opportunity to be discovered by other big business attending the event. Additionally, big business had the opportunity to position itself as a leader in sustainable enterprise development.

“Exhibiting SMEs enjoyed facilitated meetings with procurement managers and buyers. They also had the opportunity to show-case their products and services to other large corporates,” he said.

The Expo was hosted during the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), which is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch start ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand welfare.

Ntshona said developing the culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa will result in growth of new businesses and many jobs would be created. This will help to move away from the notion that only existing companies will continue creating jobs for people.

The recently launched Absa SME Index shows that while only 270 000 of the more than 1,9-million businesses employ five or more people other than the owner, only 10% of these employ more than 50 people - less than 4% of all employees.

“While it may be easy to say we need more businesses to employ more people, unfortunately there has been a consolidation of businesses (mergers and partnerships), while others have been forced with no alternative to close down owing to high costs and economic pressures.”

It is through entrepreneurship that this country will create the much needed 5-million jobs by 2020. In every growing economy around the world SMEs are the engine room of job creation, said Ntshona.

Each year the Enterprise Development Expo will strive to celebrate and facilitate the key objective of Global Entrepreneurship Week: finding opportunities and building connections to enhance entrepreneurship.

At this year’s event Absa provided on-site financial support and advice to all participating SMEs, who were able to explore a variety of non-traditional funding solutions that will assist them in their business growth.

The Absa Enterprise Development Centres were also promoted at the event. An entrepreneur is able to walk into any one of the Enterprise Development Centres around the country to access advice and support he or she may require to build and grow a business into a successful and sustainable operation.

Furthermore, while the Procurement and Sourcing Conferences were in session, a series of Enterprise Development seminars were hosted on the exhibition floor to provide practical tools and business tips for the SMEs.

It was an excellent opportunity for the suppliers to not only access other big business buyers attending the conference, but also access the latest topics of relevance to small business growth and development.

The on-floor Enterprise Development Workshops were delivered in partnership with Absa Enterprise Development and other key training stakeholders identified as leaders in this space: The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and the South African Revenue Service.

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