The national Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) strategy was born out of the constitutional requirement for previously disadvantaged individuals and entities in South Africa to have equal access to the economy. It consists of three measurable components, namely Direct Investment; Human Development and Employment Equity; and Indirect Empowerment. The B-BBEE scorecard for each South African company indicates the measure of success they are having in contributing to this national strategy.
At BCX, the B-BBEE strategy is embedded in its operational business practices and has been implemented in a variety of ways – from corporate social investment, investments in SMME’s to human resource development. “B-BBEE is firmly entrenched in our business and we have made a strong commitment to contribute towards the B-BBEE objectives of the country”, says Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen, Chief Marketing Officer at BCX.
BCX aspires to be a transformational company, “where diversity is valued as an asset and is part of our DNA”, adds Ntloko-Petersen. BCX’s transformation imperatives are more than a compliance driven exercise as it aims to make real changes to the lives of previously disadvantaged individuals and businesses.
Over the past few years, the organisation has focused its energy on building a pipeline of digital skills and innovation capability amongst disadvantaged youth to address the challenge of youth unemployment and in supporting the development of SMME’s to diversify its own supply chain and encourage entrepreneurial expediency as a contributor to the economy.
According to Ntloko-Petersen, the programmes and investments are making an impact. This is evidenced by BCX having retained its level 1 B-BBEE status, and much of that is owed to the developmental work it is doing across multiple verticals.
“Implementing B-BBEE to comply with regulations and policy is not enough,” say Ntloko-Petersen. “We need to get involved and ensure that the action taken is positively contributing to the businesses and individuals we invest in.”
BCX has invested in various Enterprise and Supplier Development programmes that support a variety of SMME’s, such as the BCX Innovation Programme. The programme incubates and accelerates enterprises that develop solutions in areas such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and cyber-security. These enterprises are incubated using a 5-stage methodology which encompasses ideation through to acceleration, scaling and growth. Through its strategic partnerships, BCX is able to provides entrepreneurs with seed funding, as well as growth capital through the R100million IDF future fund.
By supporting entrepreneurs to grow and develop their businesses, BCX positively impacts the communities in which these entrepreneurs operate, and thus the nation.
In addition, BCX is a major contributor to the Telkom Futuremakers programme, which is an Enterprise and Supplier Development initiative focusing on increasing subcontracting opportunities for SMMEs. The enterprises are supported with regards to gap analysis, industry strategy, mentorship, financial management, skills development and back office support.
BCX continues to support local SMME’s through its Preferential Procurement policy. During the 2019/2020 financial year, BCX achieved 113% spend from B-BBEE compliant entities.
Skilling the Market
“Our skills development initiatives are focused on skilling underprivileged youth with future skills in ICT, such as coding and data science. We do this by partnering with carefully selected accredited organisations and colleges. In doing so, we hope to inspire social change”, explain Ntloko-Petersen.
BCX Skills Development strategy is focused on various initiatives towards increasing digital skills capability among youth, these include: A coding skills academy; A data science academy; A digital business management development program and, various Learnerships and Internships.
The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) which is a 12-month Accredited Skills Data Science Programme of which BCX is a founding partner and has injected over R50m in training over 300 interns in the past three years. The Explore academy has successful in placed about70% of the interns resulting from the programme in positions at various organisations.
The skills development strategy is not solely focused on students, BCX also caters for the development of SMMEs through the Partner Programme – a community portal for SMME partners that is aimed at unlocking the market and client opportunities for small businesses.
“The shortage of skills and the abundance of blockages that exist for entrepreneurs to access the supply chain network have been discussed extensively and are evident to for all to see. This is just another way we can add value to the SMME’s we deal with”, says Ntloko-Petersen.
As a business it is easy to view B-BBEE as a box-ticking exercise, with the resources spent on achieving the various stages of accreditation treated as a grudge purchase. “The point is to view and treat the process as an investment into the business, community and the country itself”, adds Ntloko-Petersen.
Every company has a responsibility to ensure the development and sustainability of the communities in which they operate. It is a symbiotic relationship that benefits not only the participants of the various initiatives, but the company itself. BCX is committed to transformation to address the complex challenges facing our country. A positive future starts with us.