Black-owned firms penalised for using white talent

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BEE.jpgThe chairperson of South Africa’s largest wholly owned black auditing firm has expressed concern over BEE codes which penalise black-owned firms who expand their skills base with white talent.
Nonkululeko Gobodo.JPG“Gobodo Incorporated needs to further expand its skills base and attract top auditing minds for the large accounts for which it is responsible. Based on my experience, many of those people are white. However, if we bring in white partners, it is clear from the present regulatory framework that Gobodo’s BEE status will be rated downwards. Now that is a real conundrum and a situation that needs to be reviewed!" said Nonkululeko Gobodo, Executive Chairperson of Gobodo Incorporated, which employs over 350 people.

Speaking at SmartProcurement's 3rd Annual SmartSourcing Conference at Leriba lodge in Centurion, Gobodo acknowledged that while she has personally benefitted a lot from BEE Procurement, she is still a lobbyist for changing the regulatory framework around the initiative.

“The framework must differentiate between developing and established businesses. Gobodo Incorporated is still not competing on a level playing field. The big four [auditing firms] have been well established for many years and can, therefore, better fulfil the requirements of the BBBEE scorecard,” said Gobodo.

She emphasised the important role that Procurement in the private sector plays in economic transformation.

"It is essential that we continually debate the critical role procurement plays in the future well-being and prosperity of the country and all its different peoples," she concluded.

Janine Hansby.JPGAlso speaking at the conference was Janine Hansby, General Manager: Procurement for MTN South Africa, discussing the mobile telecommunication organisation’s facilitation of widespread development in South African.

"The promotion of entrepreneurship and small business remains an important priority of MTN," said Hansby.

She admitted that MTN's impetus for supporting transformation came from its unfavourable scorecard. However, the importance of its role in facilitating widespread transformation became apparent.

MTN’s BEE initiatives were initially fragmented and scattered throughout the organisation, from sales and marketing through to procurement, explained Hansby.

It then brought in a corporation-wide framework for enterprise development, which was much more holistic. She said that for the first time, Procurement was able to identify a whole group of tenders aimed only at BEE and, more specifically, targeted at black women. It was then able to bring together suppliers with the same profile, evaluate their needs and put an appropriate training programme together.

In so doing MTN provided groups of previously disadvantaged individuals with management and business acumen.

MTN’s present objective is to spend R150-million a year on enterprise development. Its history of enterprise development spend shows an impressive escalation as the new initiatives took root:

2006: R4,86-million and the launch of the 'community pay-phone' initiative.

2007: R61,1-million only on pay-phones.

2008: R114-million, a large escalation in spend, which confirms the success of the integrated approach and all its initiatives.

“The MTN programme is incentivised, it is built in to the KPIs of all Procurement personnel and this has opened the big doors for enterprise development,” concluded Hansby.

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