Sustainable supplier and enterprise development

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Yvonne Themba.JPGMany of the 6 000 000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa are struggling and a high percentage will fall by the wayside, Yvonne Themba, Director of Corporate Affairs at Shanduka Black Umbrellas, told delegates at SmartProcurement World.

Themba added that South Africa has a low entrepreneurial class with less than 8% of adults venturing into new businesses.

At the podium Themba tackled the many issues and challenges facing procurement organisations in both the corporate and government environments in bringing about effective and sustainable supplier development.

There is a glaring lack of business acumen, resources and public services support in this very important sector of the economy. Statistics show that this area of the economy, if stimulated and supported, can provide the employment opportunities so badly needed at the local level, she said.

What is essential for sustainable small businesses is to provide them with access to and infrastructure for development, incubation and mentorship. SMEs require affordable and shared business services to ensure their growth and success.

The enterprise development element of the BEE Codes provides a unique incentive to corporates to assume a leadership role in the development of SMEs. Yet in its present format it is expensive and extremely difficult to implement as it sidetracks the focus and resources of the company, explained Themba.

That is where the services of a specialised incubation and mentoring company, like Shanduka Black Umbrellas, can prove useful. They assume all the essential tasks and provide a highly dedicated and professional level of service, which includes:
• Vetting the emerging entity and establishing whether it is fit for purpose;
• providing the basket of essential small business services and tools that will guarantee survival: access to professional services, basics of book-keeping, computers with ADSL connection, office space, etc.;
• workshops to up-skill and develop competencies in business process development, compliance matters (Tax, legislation, etc.), customer service, financial management and record keeping; and
• mentorship by experienced business people who are prepared to transfer skills in a trusted environment.

According to a recent GEM survey and report it is clear that the biggest need still sits with black businesses. At the same time, when assisted and developed, these businesses can and will offer many employment opportunities in areas in which they operate, said Themba.

She concluded by calling on established business to take up the challenge and get involved with the development of SMEs throughout the country.

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