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6 Threats to Business in 2013

Risks aren’t always immediate to your business, sometimes macro-factors can impact you in ways you hadn’t considered.

Alison Job

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The last days predicted by modern-day Mayans failed to arrive on schedule. “In fact, the risks we all face as we go into 2013 are much more complex, and thus much more difficult to counter,” says Michael Davies, CEO of ContinuitySA.

“It is almost impossible to consider individual risks without taking the overall risk into consideration,” Davies observes. “Globalisation and the profound connectedness between individuals, companies and countries promoted by technology means that risk, too, must be seen broadly.”

Davies and members of his executive team have identified six business risks for 2013.

1. Social malfunction grows. Across the world, it is increasingly clear that established certainties and beliefs about how the world is structured are becoming fluid. There is an overall loss of faith in society’s institutions and their ability to deliver a just world order.

In South Africa, persistent dissatisfaction with service delivery has exploded into widespread and violent protests against the very nature of the system. The miners’ revolt in Marikana has been a watershed event, as it bypassed both the settlements negotiated by the miners’ own representatives and the normal processes of democracy. Democratic process, it seems, is either profoundly misunderstood or mistrusted.

This impatience with society’s existing institutions and processes appears to be spreading and there are worrying signs that even the middle class, on whose shoulders society’s prosperity and stability ultimately depend, are also losing faith in basic concepts.

The extreme passions roused by the ongoing e-toll saga in Gauteng is an obvious example of this trend. For the middle classes, this type of feeling generally translates into a reluctance to pay tax, an action that can fatally undermine the state itself.

2. Global economic and financial volatility. It appears that the 2008 financial crisis is both more far-reaching and profound than first expected. Markets and economies seem unable to regain an even keel, and many commentators are seeing this volatility as “the new normal”. The flipside is an increasing regulatory burden as governments and other institutions attempt to rein in uncontrolled capitalism and protect investors.

For South African businesses, important associated risks are the volatility of commodity prices, greater competition internally and in export markets, and an unstable currency.

3. Environmental risk. If volatility is the new economic normal, then there is every indication that climatic volatility is also becoming a feature of life. For South Africa, climate fluctuations may be expected to increase the risk of water and even food shortages.

Thus far, global and national environmental initiatives are gaining traction too slowly, and seem likely to add to the cost of doing business in the short term—giving rise to a classic case of how to balance short- and long-term risk.

4. Infrastructural risk. A common African business risk is inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure. Water and power are the two obvious risks that threaten business, but the road and rail networks also present challenges.

Government efforts to address these problems are affected by the principle of interconnectedness: opposition to e-tolling, one feels, is more influenced by wider dissatisfactions rather than the principle of “user pays”.

Many South African businesses are taking extraordinary measures to mitigate infrastructural risks by assuming responsibility for all or some of the infrastructure needed for their projects. Property developers, for example, are often providing roads and sewerage, and factories some of their own energy—and think of corporate involvement in points people to ameliorate the effects of faulty traffic lights and schemes to fill in potholes.

5. Data risk. Data is becoming more important as a way for companies to assess risk and compete more effectively—this is the phenomenon of Big Data. It’s probably true to say that most companies are still coming to terms with the concept and, more importantly, how to use data effectively.

Nonetheless, data privacy regulations have already sprung up to protect personal data, creating a set of risks relating to data security. One is the growing menace of cybercrime. Another is the whole question of data sovereignty—as companies try to safeguard their data while reducing costs, they may opt for the security of cloud solutions.

However, when those data centres are located and/or owned offshore, it becomes difficult to be sure of data security and accountability for lapses.

An associated risk is the peaking trend of IT consumerisation, so-called BYOD (bring your own device—the use of private mobile devices to access corporate data). BYOD offers both advantages and disadvantages: boards and their CIOs need to think carefully about how to protect their data against potential threats—and how to use the available technology wisely to obtain a competitive advantage.

6. Business continuity remains misunderstood. Risk management has definitely become integrated into the corporate agenda, and is maturing. This may be seen by the replacement of the existing BS25999 standard by ISO22301.

The BS25999 standard set the standard for business continuity management, but the new ISO223301 standard is much more detailed in its requirements, and requires much more documentation of the processes followed. It also requires committed board-level leadership, thus effectively putting risk management into the spotlight.

However, in practical terms, the broader concept of business continuity management is becoming absorbed into the IT budget, with a concurrent diminishing of focus on operational matters. At the same time, budgets in general are under pressure.

“Ironically, then, the biggest overall risk has become corporate myopia about the true nature of risk—and this at a time when risk has become much more integrated into corporate strategy. Boards must resist seeing risk in terms of technology alone. Business continuity is a much more useful concept, one that takes into account the interconnectedness of risk today. When considering risk, business leaders need to take a broad view of organisational resilience before honing in on their particular company’s situation,” Davies concludes. “Risk is now systemic, and so the approach to risk must also be systemic and have operational relevance to the organisation.”

Alison Job holds a BA English, Communications and has extensive experience in writing that spans news broadcasting, public relations and corporate and consumer publishing. Find her at Google+.

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R33 Million Boost For Job Creation And Innovation In SA

The Craft + Design Institute (CDI) has launched R33 Million in funding to boost SME growth, job creation and innovation.

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The CDI has raised the R33m to establish three funds – a Growth Fund, an Innovation Fund and a Loan Book – these funds will be managed by its investment arm, CDI Capital.

The funding will be for developing 60 growth oriented SME’s and 20 innovative technological solutions – and to create 600 permanent jobs in the process over three years.

This funding has been enabled by the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund through the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).

CDI Capital was specifically incorporated as a CDI subsidiary in 2016 to catalyse funding for SMEs. A level 1 B-BBEE company, it aims to combine government grants with corporate Enterprise Development spend and private funds to de-risk investments in SME’s to stimulate growth and returns.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

The Growth Fund is open to businesses with turnover or assets of more than R1m with the ability to create permanent jobs. Applications open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017. For specific criteria and more information on the grant please visit www.cdicapital.co.za/GrowthFund

The Design Innovation Seed Fund (DISF) is open to inventors who believe they have protectable innovative technological solutions that could impact on specific sectors and could create permanent jobs. This is the third round of this fund. Applications open on the 27th of November and close on the 31st of December 2017. For specific criteria and more information on the grant please visit www.cdicapital.co.za/DISF

In addition to the grant funding products, CDI Capital will also launch a R3.5m working capital and term loan facility at reduced rates for the duration of the three-year project to provide access to cash flow during the growth stage of these, and other qualifying SME’s.

 

The CDI has 16 years of experience in SME development and started supporting development in the craft and design sectors nationally in 2015. Signaling this change, the organisation changed its name in September from the Cape Craft + Design Institute to The Craft + Design Institute.

According to Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI, it was a landmark moment in the organisation’s history.

“Over the past few years our team has successfully taken our services across the country – we have conducted a business and product development workshop series in every single province and received incredibly positive feedback. The message clearly is ‘more please’.”

Elk said that there is a consensus in South Africa today that SMEs hold the solution to our intractable problems of a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates.

“In most countries, SMEs play a vital role as drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, but, in South Africa, this value is yet to be properly realised. To achieve this, the challenges experienced by SMEs need to be addressed. Namely access to markets, finance and credit, infrastructure, resources for R&D, and access to adequately skilled and work ready labour.”

She added that the CDI, through its specialised investment arm CDI Capital, is gearing up to provide solutions to some of these challenges, particularly in the craft and design sector and related sectors where design and innovation can catalyse growth.

“Our first Jobs Fund project, completed successfully in December 2015, had 45 participating companies creating 464 jobs off an investment of R14.5m. This was 105% of the target of jobs to be created. Participating SMEs grew their combined annual revenue by 73% over three years – from R60m to R104m. Funds were used to improve their products, processes and competitiveness through the acquisition of new machinery or specialist staff, and to expand local and international market reach.”

“We also completed a first round of DISF grants in 2016, and are currently working with seven innovative SMEs in round two – round one attracted private funding of over R10m in equity funding into some of the high-potential innovators. The DISF gives innovators and entrepreneurs in the Western Cape an opportunity to get the finance and support needed to get their ideas to the next stages.”

“We have put a significant amount of work into developing these offerings, not only ensuring good governance and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures, but realising real and sustainable impact with the businesses we support. We are excited to have raised R33m to launch this new funding for SMEs, and we thank our funders and supporters – we look forward to making meaningful investments.”

Related: 6 Great Tips For A Successful Shark Tank Pitch

“Now – having led the way with investment from the public sector – we would like to partner with the private sector to support and strengthen this initiative. We believe this project – which aims to catalyse innovation, support growth orientated SME’s and create 600 jobs – would be an ideal Enterprise Development spend opportunity. CDI would gladly partner with corporate growth orientated accelerators and mentorship programmes to further strengthen the support offered to the participating SMEs.”

 

Najwah Allie-Edries, Deputy Director General: Employment Facilitation within the Jobs Fund:

“The Jobs Fund supports this initiative in recognition of the critical role that SMEs play in creating a more inclusive economy and job creation and also because it will contribute toward CDI becoming a more self-sustaining entity. The aim of this initiative is to provide appropriate financing options to SMEs in the craft and design sector in order to catalyse sustainable growth which will result in attracting further investment into a sector that has often been neglected. The introduction of a revolving loan facility will not only ensure that over time more SMEs can benefit from access to finance, the enhanced revenue streams will also contribute to the CDI’s goal of becoming a sustainable entity in its own right.”

Mr Vusi Skosana, Head: Technology Stations & IATs (TSP) at TIA, said that the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology, was established with an objective to support the State in stimulating and intensifying technological innovation in order to improve economic growth and the quality of life of all South Africans by developing and exploiting technological innovations.

Solly Fourie, Head of Department, Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape Government:

“We know that there is a strong need to develop and improve the socio-economic conditions of the citizens in our region. To this end, the creation of a healthy and vibrant regional innovation system can be a catalytic driver of sustainable economic growth and development. But neither DEDAT, nor the WCG, are able to tackle this alone. The partnerships created through the Seed Fund and Jobs Fund; and initiatives like it, go a long way to creating an enabling regional innovation system in which we collectively draw on the Quad helix’s expertise and resources; promote local industry and attract and grow innovative businesses. By doing this, we are crafting the best possible conditions for businesses to develop in this region.”

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Start-ups Require A Strong Legal Foundation Webber Wentzel Ignite

Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.

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Entrepreneurs, start-ups and scale-ups are a lifeline to South Africa’s economy.  It is however a harsh environment and many entrepreneurs find themselves in a situation where they are wearing many hats and navigating potential pitfalls without the knowledge that many professionals have from years of experience.

This is especially true from a legal point of view where entrepreneurs are faced with real world regulatory challenges that could have far-reaching consequences on their fledgling business, such as financial regulatory, tax, exchange control and intellectual property.

A common example is that start-ups often forget to secure the rights and licenses they need to operate. For example, would you invest or partner with a company that:

  • doesn’t have a legal right to use their brand
  • doesn’t have proprietary technology; and/or
  • is reliant on a third party agreement that doesn’t permit commercial use?

Related: How To Raise Working Capital Finance

These avoidable shortcomings often result in failures at critical junctures. The specialist legal services needed to avoid these problems are typically not easily accessible to start-ups.

With this in mind, Webber Wentzel has launched a project called ‘Webber Wentzel Ignite’ – a legal incubation programme that will provide selected entrepreneurs and innovators from any sector with:

  • tailored legal services valued at up to ZAR 100,000;
  • bespoke mentoring and training support – focused on legal knowledge and developing key legal skills relevant to start-up businesses; and
  • targeted networking and profile-raising opportunities.

Video about Ignite

Webber Wentzel is not asking for equity or exclusivity; only an opportunity to connect and make a difference as a trusted advisor over the long-term. It is a wonderful opportunity that will set the selected entrepreneurs apart in the marketplace. Applications close on 15 January 2018

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SMMEs So Much Focus On Funding, But What About Skills

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following.

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I think we can all agree that the funding of small businesses is only part of the solution. What is possibly more important (as an enabler) is the initial assessment of the level and adequacy of skills existing within new or developing enterprises and to evaluate what further skills development or training is required to ensure a firm business foundation and sustainable growth is achieved.

A study by StatsSA which surveyed households and obtained evidence relating to skills development and unemployment between 1994 and 2014 showed the following:

  • During this time frame across the South African working population of households there was an increase in skilled labour (21% to 25%), with a shift away from semi and low-skilled labour.
  • What is interesting to note in the growth of skilled labour is the disparity within the different race groups.

*For the purpose of this analysis, the occupation types were used to infer skills levels based on the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Skilled: manager, professional, technical. Semi-skilled: sales and services, clerk, machine operator. Low-skilled: domestic worker.

This is clear evidence that the role of enterprise and supplier development is a crucial one needed to up-skill and train the broader population. It is one thing to provide finance and access to markets, but without the appropriate skills development to make these investments sustainable is would be a fruitless exercise.

Related: 6 Money Management Tips For First-Time Entrepreneurs

The role that the private sector plays in post investment business support and capacity building is incredibly important. There is a requirement to build both technical skills as well as overall business management skills. This in my view is when we will start seeing real impact. In order for the enterprises to be effective in the contracts that they are awarded a focus on skills development (by both parties) is required.

In an economy where growth has crawled to a near halt, SMMEs cannot be expected to be the holy-grail for job creation. Making an impact in increasing the potential salary earning or employable workforce is key and therefore skills development requires a multi-faceted approach:

  1. From early education phase – where emphasis must be placed at school level for entrepreneurship training and opportunities is a key enabler. Entrepreneurship should in essence become a career option to consider. Innovation must be incubated. The world is changing and the skills required to be productive are changing as well.
  2. Clear regulations and commitment to quality interventions should be stipulated at policy level to incentivise skills development/ skills transfer from large corporates to small businesses.
  3. Without looking at the bigger picture these developmental areas are without support – so a holistic approach to skills development – mentorship, networking and overall business acumen are skills that often distinguish between those who do well and those who don’t in business. It needs to all work harmoniously and as an effective and efficient ecosystem reliant on each other’s strengths and support and mutually beneficial objectives.

Related: 3 Things You Must Have In Place To Get That Start-up Bank Finance

At the end of the day, an enterprise should leave an ESD programme empowered to stand and survive in the business world. We know that we are losing the challenge when time and time again we see developing enterprises moving from one ESD programme to another with nothing to show for it. Monitoring and evaluation of these enterprises is therefore also essential to track growth and success – but also to identify areas of weakness or need for further intervention.

At the heart of ESD is the notion that larges businesses/ corporates should move beyond compliance (aka box-ticking) and toward the heart of transformation. Intertwined here is the responsibility to use development interventions and activities in a deliberate and focused manner so that the skills level in small businesses can move upwards and ensure the longevity and success of growing enterprises.

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