Cape Town - Nearly two decades after the advent of
democracy, the South African environment is still not conducive to the entry
of black businesses in terms of capital,
skills and market place.
This is according to Kekeletso Khena, director of the annual
Van Ryn's BBQ Awards, who said that while black business has transformed from
largely informal to formal businesses over the last 17 years, South Africa is
still falling short with black business transformation.
"While black economic empowerment (BEE) has assisted
black businesses that may not have had the opportunity prior to the
introduction of the broad-based black economic empowerment strategy, there is
still only a handful of black businesses that are competing with former white
"This was confirmed in recent research published by
WealthInsight which revealed that of South Africa's 543 ultra-high net worth
individuals, only 75 are from previously disadvantaged groups.
"This figure highlights how far South Africa is from
reaching its transformation goals."
The 2011-2012 Commission for Employment Equity annual report
which reflects on the status of employment equity in the country recently
showed how equity in the workplace is still skewed.
It stated that 47.9% and 44.6% of all senior management
positions are held by white men in the Western Cape and Gauteng respectively,
compared to 6.0% and 13.9% for Africans, 11.2% and 3.6% for coloureds and 3.9%
and 6.8% for Indians.
Khena said the platform for black business was not even close
to being level and that without active government promotion, society and
corporate South Africa is not doing enough to empower emerging black
"The biggest challenge we are faced with is the lack of
mentorship for black entrepreneurs and investment in skills development.
"There are a few young men and women that are doing
amazing things without the benefits of BEE advantages and mentorships, but
these businesses are largely limited to the creative and services
She adds that corporates don't necessarily look at these
business entities unless it will help their scorecards. "It is important
we add value for BEE.
"The reality is BEE is not about ownership but more
about doing certain things that say as a company you are adding value to the
economic development of the country through skills development and corporate
social responsibility, and not necessarily transforming the face of
Khena says society as a whole has a responsibility; there is
a desperate need for the development of entrepreneurs and, more importantly,
"When you consider the Van Ryn's BBQ Awards
nominations, one of the aspects we look for is that the company or individual
has a level of integrity and that they have demonstrated exceptional ability
and commitment to guiding and mentoring emerging entrepreneurs.
"If we don't encourage black business to start
developing entrepreneurs by saying 'I am a role model, this is what I've
achieved and this is how you can do it', we are not going to develop and grow
"Individuals are unable to look at a Pick n Pay for
instance, and model themselves or their business around the company, but they
can look at a role model, such as Richard Maponya and be inspired by the fact
that he has also come from a disadvantage background, but was able to develop
himself into one of South Africa's richest businessmen," Khena said.
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