Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operating on the African continent face several challenges that threaten their growth and sustainability. These include limited access to markets, informality, financial inadequacies, and a lack of vital business skills in planning, financial management, marketing, and operations.
In response, diversified Pan-African financial services group, Sanlam together with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) Enterprise and Supplier Development Initiative have developed a programme to help entrepreneurs gain access to markets, funding, and skills.
Sanlam’s support for entrepreneurship is driven through the Sanlam Enterprise Supplier Development programme (ESD), which offers a tailored solution for business owners that caters exclusively to their needs.
Started several years ago, the group’s ESD programme has been advocating and supporting the acceleration of the growth of small and medium businesses in their supply chain.
According to Trevor Chandler, Senior Policy Advisor and trustee of enterprise and supplier development at ASISA, the programme presents a holistic solution that focuses on a number of crucial elements to help emerging businesses.
“One of the most crucial elements of the programme is the investment of time. Entrepreneurs may need to take one step back from the business so that they can make time to invest in themselves.We understand how challenging this can be because, for a small business, time is money” says Chandler
The progression of sustainable businesses is determined by the time set aside by entrepreneurs for business mentorship. Mentorship is one of the key elements of the programme and used as the main vehicle to facilitate success.
International research indicates that Enterprise development plays a crucial part in developing homegrown economies. This is a valuable finding of this research and it is applied accordingly in the support model for entrepreneurs. Chandler identifies job creation and profitability as the key performance areas for measuring the success and impact of the programme for beneficiaries.
Building on this, one can conclude that the engine of the initiative is vested in collaboration. Collaboration between funders, corporates and government is integral to the overall advancement of the entrepreneur and opportunities that are available for their business, comments Chandler. The programme aims to create spaces for small businesses to collaborate at all levels, to accelerate growth and a favourable economic outcome.
Economic growth is fundamental to addressing unemployment, gender equality, health, and other poverty-related issues on the continent and worldwide and ESD is an important tool to help facilitate that growth.
Sanlam’s ESD programme is committed to investing time, knowledge and capital to help Small and Medium Enterprises establish, expand and improve their businesses to grow and contribute to the local economy.