Inclusive Supply Chains have the ability to transform South Africa’s economy. Corporate South Africa is doing their bit to turn things around by creating a collaborative ecosystem that is a catalyst for positive change.

The recent 2020 Africa Economic Outlook report highlights that the big five economies of Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa jointly accounted for 55% of Africa’s growth in 2019. Yet, South Africa’s poverty rate was cited at 55.5%, with its inequality among the world’s highest. Among the causes of high unemployment are low skills, the report said.

Catherine Wijnberg, co-creator of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards and CEO and founder of Fetola, suggests that Supplier Development is a way to future-proof not only organisations, but address unemployment and nurture Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) skills.

“Future-proofing is the catchphrase of 2020, and future-proofing and transformation are interdependent” says Catherine. “By gearing up South Africa’s workforce for the future, we need to cast our minds forward and address human capital development especially in a country where inclusive growth has been held back by a mismatch between young workers’ skills and the needs of employers. Supplier Development programmes and projects provide a unique opportunity to do this while ensuring their organisations are ultimately more resilient and better positioned for the future”.

So what are the tools and strategies one could employ to do this? Catherine identifies seven focus areas

  1. Futureproofing procurement strategies -future casting and scenario planning, using market intelligence, understanding of the ecosystem and its future needs, adaptation, putting performance excellence and outcomes on steroids and leveraging trends to transform.
  2. Embracing digital transformation – transforming the knowledge economy into a human economy, where intellect, creativity, design thinking and specialist skills are valued alongside R&D, engineering and supply chain functions
  3. Addressing human capital development as a key driver of organisational and supplier performance – through the continuous capacitating of your workforce and suppliers (by way of mentorship, training and skills development programmes), you can steer your organisation and suppliers to become more competitive in an ever-evolving environment
  4. Investments in the youth and education that nurtures STEAM and 4IR skills – with the 4IR looming, a solid STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) is imperative to bring about the ability to problem-solve and use creative thinking, which is essential for adaptability and survival in a fast-paced time of radical change. By investing in this sector, we ensure that the youth gain skills that are relevant and connected to industries with a strong competitive potential.
  5. Embracing inclusive social innovation and building innovative ecosystems – broadening the procurement base and levelling the playing field for innovators, but also acting as a magnet for talent, attracting and nurturing innovative companies and suppliers that help shape the future
  6. Consider new financing vehicles – ones that provide not just growth capital, but capital that emphasises inclusivity, as well as profitability
  7. Shifting from value capture to shared value creation – creating value in the ecosystem and encouraging value exchange not only between big corporates and suppliers, but from corporate to corporate and supplier to supplier within the ecosystem (part of this could include showing the connections between the different stakeholders of an ecosystem, enabling and supporting new entrants)

The fundamental objective of the B-BBEE Act, of 2003 is to advance economic transformation and enhance the economic participation of black people in the South African economy. “More businesses need to move beyond the legal imperative and realise they have a corporate and social responsibility to transform their supply chain,” says Catherine Wijnberg.  “By putting people back at the heart of Supplier Development and focussing on human capital development and nurturing future based skills, we will build future strategic advantages and future-proof not only organisations, but put them at the forefront of true transformation, for  inclusive, sustainable growth and the betterment of society as a whole” says Catherine.

Entries are now open for the 3rd annual Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards. This year 11 awards will be awarded, with a range of new categories including innovation and for initiatives that are achieving exceptional results in supporting youth, Black women, Rural & Township-based suppliers  and Skills of the future (4IR)  suppliers. Express your interest to enter by 28 February 2020.

For further information