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Transformation remains far off target

Sep 17 2012 13:15

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 businesses.

"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 business.  

"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 industry."

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 business."

Khena says society as a whole has a responsibility; there is a desperate need for the development of entrepreneurs and, more importantly, skills development.

"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 entrepreneurs.

"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.

 - Fin24

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bee  |  sa economy  |  transformation  |  entrepreneurs



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