In order for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to build capacity and lay a foundation that enables sustainability and, ultimately, profitability, it is critical that they are able to identify and close their organisational and operational gaps. While many enterprise development (ED) initiatives provide theory and training to assist with this process, most are unable to provide an enabling environment where entrepreneurs can make – and learn from – their mistakes.
Integrating ED programmes with procurement can create a bridge that effectively facilitates this growth process, says Shawn Theunissen, head of CSR at Growthpoint Properties and Property Point (Growthpoint Properties’ enterprise development programme), in this month’s SmartProcurement.
In providing entrepreneurs with the skills and space required to learn and grow, ED programmes that tap directly into procurement can benefit entrepreneurs and the supply chains of corporate organisations. “By going beyond the traditional approach to enterprise development, one can simultaneously move beyond a box-ticking approach to compliance and transformation – creating real jobs and market opportunities,” says Theunissen.
“When Masedi Electric-Serve, an electrical and instrumentation company offering installation and maintenance services, first joined Property Point, our initial business development analysis identified effective financial management as a gap that required attention,” says Theunissen.
Despite the business having a healthy turnover, the team recognised that long-term growth could potentially be stunted and even adversely affected unless Seitebatso Rakgokong, the entrepreneur, was equipped with the knowledge and practical tools necessary to take charge of and manage his SME’s finances.
Rakgokong subsequently received group and one-on-one training – giving him the grounding he needed to not only improve visibility and oversight within his business, but also to assist with planning in terms of budgets, contracts and resources.
Based on this, he was then able to set realistic growth targets and work within the opportunity-holder environment accordingly – having the insights needed to understand reporting requirements and manage projects both at Growthpoint and at other clients.
“By working closely with the procurement team throughout, we were able to provide additional support where necessary, especially in the early days of implementing his new skills,” says Theunissen. “This ensured that any additional gaps that emerged in application could be addressed immediately – within a real-life, real-time environment.”
Because Property Point incubates businesses in partnership with procurement, it’s able to ensure that theory translates into practice, and that entrepreneurs have a safe space in which to implement new skills and knowledge with the requisite support and guidance.
“As an ED practitioner or supply chain manager, you are required to go beyond admiring the courage and tenacity of entrepreneurs who fight against the odds to succeed. You must ask how your own organisation is breaking down barriers to SME entry – and enabling these businesses through formal ED initiatives,” says Theunissen.
In the case of Property Point, this introspection has led to the development of an ED programme that facilitates direct relationships between SMEs and the corporate opportunity-holder – the procurement department at Growthpoint Properties.