Standard Bank boosts BEE suppliers


 After witnessing the small businesses which are its suppliers struggle to survive or collapse, Standard Bank decided to intervene with an innovative supplier development programme, and the results have been impressive, according to Simone Cooper, Head of Franchising and Enterprise Development at Standard Bank.

Aimed at its existing and potential small suppliers, over a year, the initiative focused on a group of 22 black-owned small businesses drawn from areas as diverse as printing, supply of IT services and technology, as well as corporate service companies such as specialist cleaners.  

The objective was to assess their activities, provide skills development where required, and ensure that they are equipped to grow their businesses well into the future, Cooper explained. “Achieving this required interventions covering education around traditional business skills, and even helping the companies broaden their customer bases to reduce their reliance on a single large corporate client for their continued existence.”

At the outset, existing turnover of the businesses was reviewed and an independent assessment on the sustainability of their offerings and structures was made. Afterwards, gaps in business practices were identified for attention, and the companies were then prepared for the intensive 12-month programme, which relied primarily on “practical workplace assistance” rather than “classroom” teaching.

Participants gained knowledge regarding setting up processes and systems, accounting, record keeping and the establishment of effective HR practices, in addition to other areas. Standard Bank kept track of participants’ performance through monthly reports.

The intervention paid dividends. “During the reporting period it was found that turnover increased by 38% across the portfolio of participating businesses. One exceptional achiever saw turnover growing by 814%, albeit from a low base. What was most encouraging was that an additional 593 jobs were created,” said Cooper.

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