Thought leadership: Enabling emerging enterprises for growth

Have you ever wondered how much money you are not making because of employees that are not properly skilled or because of the lack of enterprise development activities in your business?

Paul Malherbe

Paul Malherbe

With the rising numbers in unemployment, government has identified small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a vital contributor to the health of South Africa’s economy. The truth is every business has a social responsibility. Investing in enterprise development – innovative skills and human resource development – will ensure accelerated and sustainable growth, not only for your business but society as a whole.

Economies are able to evolve as a result of enterprise development activity. Hiring cheap unskilled labour, for example, often results in slow turn-around times, low customer satisfaction, ultimately reducing profits. Investing in the training and employment of skilled staff is likely to have the opposite effects.

Training and development support is a great catalyst for productivity which is likely to lead to greater customer satisfaction and improved revenues. Ultimately, company growth will lead to more job opportunities and improved standards of living.

Sound management and skills development for growth

It is imperative that efforts towards enterprise development are met with the appropriate management and skills development support needed to build an enabling environment for SMEs and start-up businesses to flourish.

Organisations such as the African Management Services Company are working with companies like Mantombazane Farms, formerly known as Aldoplex Investments, to reach their potential. Located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, through adequate management support, the farm has been able to engage in internal and external training.

Staff members have been trained in various aspects of farming and livestock breeding, with aims to increase the pace of training not only because of improvements in cash flows but also due to the diversification of activities on the farm which will need different skills sets.

Since their inception in 2009, the credibility of the farm has grown to the point of attracting investments from public and private institutions, including a grant by the Agriculture Development Agency (ADA) for 2011 winter farming and 2011/2012 for the summer cropping seasons. The company has also been able to secure a loan facility of R10m (US$0.83m) from Ithala Development Finance Corporation. The company is currently in advanced stage of negotiations to buy an adjacent farm to further increase their operation.

There are no short cuts to success in agribusiness, not in the least for any other business or SME looking to ensure growth and expansion to previously uncharted markets. Big or small, basic steps are required. These include:

– Continuous customer centric practices and working on problem solving abilities;

– Training talent to effectively manage operations;

– Investing in leadership development programmes to foster the right leadership qualities and drive business performance to the next level; and

– Providing sufficient resources to enable staff to reach their full potential.

Towards a sustainable future

These are not means to an end but means to sustainable growth. Investing in human capital guarantees a future for any business irrespective of the sector that the business belongs to. Soft skills, as some people call them, are often overlooked in favour of technical or theoretical training. Trend setters invest in both and the impact is always phenomenal, not only for emerging enterprises but also for the livelihoods of the communities they serve.

While management and skills deficiencies remain a problem for enterprise growth and sustainability, companies that manage to breakthrough usually form alliances or partnerships with training brokers or specialists that assist in developing customised programmes that are tailored to specific or unique needs.

The state of readiness of a company to invest in training begins with acknowledgement and the wiliness to be globally competitive, profitable and sustainable. Staff development opens the door to improved efficiencies, increased productivity, impactful leadership and good governance. Ultimately it drives effective and lasting change to African businesses as well the ability to adapt to changing markets or other strategic challenges. Invite transformation into your organisation.

Paul Malherbe is the CEO and managing director of African Management Services Company (AMSCO), a human capital development organisation that focuses on capacitating enterprises across sub-Saharan Africa.