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Business Needs to Find Joint Solutions to SA Issues

‘Working Together’ requires people-centred processes and institutions.

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Brian Ganson, Senior Researcher, Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement University of Stellenbosch Business School

President Zuma once again emphasized “social dialogue and cooperation between government, business and the community sector” in his State of the Nation address, says Brian Ganson, Senior Researcher, Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement University of Stellenbosch Business School.

“He reminded us that Government alone cannot solve the challenges faced by the country, but by working together, solutions are possible,” says Ganson.

“A colleague, Chris Spies, points out that we are not only at the mid-point between 1994 and the National Planning Commission targets for 2030, but also between the Soweto uprisings of 1976 and the centenary of apartheid legislation in 1948,” Ganson continues. “This seems an apt moment to reflect on the great progress that has been made ‘working together’ to bring South Africa so far, but also on what gaps we must bridge to realise President Zuma’s vision.”

Affecting real change

“South African experience is replete with stories of courageous actors who reach across divisions to form more inclusive coalitions and create new possibilities for action. The Makana Football Association, the ANC’s engagement with the Consultative Business Movement, the many steps leading to the National Peace Accord, and its implementation through the Peace Secretariat all have this thread running through them. So, too, do post-apartheid examples such as Johnny Jansen’s work to transform Pollsmoor Prison by engaging rather than dominating its inmates and wardens. South Africans clearly know what ‘working together’ means, and how it’s done,” he continues.

So why does it seem so hard today? “In my home country, some disappointed with the results of the first Obama administration observe that, after the election, his supporters went ‘from movement to movie’. People stopped ‘working together’, rather expecting to watch President Obama run the show on his own.

Dr Mamphela A Ramphele made the same point in her remarks to a group gathered at Mining Indaba to discuss sustainable development. She reflected that, in 1994, many active in the struggle went about their own business, expecting ‘Mandiba Magic’ to take care of remaining challenges. In both countries, Government may have contributed with the implicit message of, “thanks for electing us; we’ll take it from here.” And that’s just not good enough if we want to see real change.”

A shared platform

The National Planning Commission in its Diagnostic emphasises that ‘working together’ is fundamentally about people: starting with common recognition and shared analysis and building towards mutual trust and a will to transform.”What is perhaps missing from the NPC’s proposed Plan of Action – and the broader national conversation about ‘working together’ – is recognition of how critical people-centred processes and institutions are in moving large numbers of actors ‘from movie to movement’,” says Ganson.

The following are three approaches that Ganson believes might be incorporated into the NPC Plan of Action now being revised.

Create more space for public participation.  We can’t work together until we come together. The nation building Plan of Action might usefully establish the principle that all government policies and programmes implement strategies for building bridges and increasing inclusion.

The Constitutional mandate of public participation can be made much more real, whether through more inclusive deliberative processes (building common recognition and shared analysis), or programmes such as Teach SA that unite South Africans in new ways (building mutual trust and a will to transform). “Public Private Partnership” can no longer mean contracting out service delivery to private actors; the concept must be reclaimed for inclusive, collaborative planning and action.

A CODESA for employment.  Even where everybody agrees on a concept, sometimes you have to put everybody in the same room to pound out the details. Everybody recognizes the dignity and direct benefits of employment. Most also see that employment increases a sense of belonging, participation and recognition, making “working together” on everything else, from resolution of land claims to good governance, that much easier. A broadly inclusive national conversation on full employment should therefore be a first priority. Government appointment of a neutral facilitator can recognize both that Government is a central actor, and that Government action must be open to scrutiny and debate.

Build social infrastructure for the long haul.  Even a perfect plan remains to be implemented, and institutional capacity is needed to make it succeed. President Zuma’s infrastructure initiatives, along with the broader NPC Plan of Action and a host of local projects, will predictably require engagement, dialogue and conflict resolution through 2030 and beyond.

Across Africa, the South African Peace Secretariat provides inspiration to countries – including established democracies such as Ghana – as they build ‘infrastructures for peace’. Perhaps it is time for South Africa to reclaim its leadership, re-creating a ‘Peace, Justice and Development Secretariat’. Local, regional and national monitors and commissions can identify challenges, convene parties, facilitate dialogue, build collaborative skills, lead joint problem-solving, and monitor implementation wherever there are risks to unity or barriers to progress on the national development plan.

Wise policies, programmes and investments are critically important.  But so too are people ‘working together’. At quite modest cost, risks of failure can be greatly reduced through people-centred processes and institutions that promote ‘working together’ to build the nation.

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5 Ways SMMEs Can Best Use An Incubation Centre

Here are some tips on how entrepreneurs can make the most of these incubation centres.

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Incubation centres play a meaningful role – not only in South Africa but around the world – as they groom SMMEs and give them access to opportunities that will help them survive in a competitive marketplace. These centres help entrepreneurs modernise their businesses with world-class technology, while providing insights that can help turn ideas into products. Incubation centres offer infrastructure and support, knowledge-sharing and a unique environment that helps strengthen their businesses.

Earlier this month, Cisco South Africa launched its R10 million Edge Incubation Centre in Pretoria where 30 SMMEs per year will have the opportunity to make use of the platform and speed up their entry to market. The centre gives SMMEs access to complete business facilities including workspaces, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, boardroom and training facilities, and access to global Cisco experts who can help them develop business ideas in a digital world.

Here are some tips on how entrepreneurs can make the most of these incubation centres:

1. Collaboration

Gain insights from global experts using the latest Webex technology and collaborate with other SMMEs. Utilise the meeting spaces to drive commercial sales initiatives with the help of business support facilities.

2. Resources & Equipment

Make use of laboratories and tools like cloud-based facilities, smart interactive whiteboards for content sharing, video conferencing, and meeting rooms. Utilise the high-tech customer demo centre as a practice platform.

Related: The Definitive List Of South African Business Incubators For Start-Ups

3. Support

Take advantage of the enablement programmes as well as the ongoing training and development. Knowledge transfer will always help your business. Utilise the technical support and business insights to grow your business and make it competitive in the digital economy.

4. Connectivity

This is your main tool in a digital marketplace. Make use of the high-speed broadband facilities and develop your digital skills because you will need it.

5. Sales

Don’t forget to utilise the pre-sales support as this may give you the edge in the marketplace. Gain insights and experience and use it to your advantage.

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9 In 10 Workers Want A Festive Gift From Their Employer To Make Them Feel Valued

29% Would like to receive vouchers from their company.

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As the festive season approaches, digital print company instantprint have revealed what managers can be doing to show staff they are appreciated.

Over 9 in 10 workers (94%) want a gift from their employers to make them feel valued, appreciated and happy this Christmas.

The research, which surveyed 1,500 UK office workers, also revealed the most in demand gifts that employees would like to receive from their employers:

  • 29% would like a gift voucher
  • 8% would like an early finish
  • One in five (20%) would like a free bar at the company Christmas party
  • One in ten (10.3%) would like a physical gift
  • 7% would like a charitable donation to be made in their name.

Related: Why Innovative Employee Benefits Are Your Competitive Advantage

Different sections of the workforce had varying demands. IT professionals would prefer an early finish this festive period, with 35% in the IT department choosing this as their ideal Christmas gift.

Senior management seem to have a more selfless approach to the gifts they would like to receive. One in ten (11%) said they would like a charitable donation to be made in their name, compared to the average demand for this present of just 7%.

There was some difference between men and women too. Women are the ones really pressing for gift vouchers, with 33% saying they are the ideal present, compared to just 23% of men. Male employees seem to prefer a free bar, with 22% choosing this, compared to just 18% of women.

James Kinsella, CEO and Co-founder of instantprint, said about the research:

“Most organisation take part in the festive period, with decorations, Christmas parties and office Secret Santas.

“But this research highlights how important a small show of gratitude can be for your workforce. Something as simple as an early finish, free bar at a party or a Christmas gift voucher can make employees feel valued and appreciated. This in turn can help boost employee morale, loyalty and productivity in the workplace.”

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South African Students To Battle In Universities Business Challenge To Win Up To R50 000

Students will compete in a simulation that encourages business skills.

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Cognity Advisory’s Universities Business Challenge (UBC), sponsored by General Electric (GE), launched in July this year, has seen 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa participate in a business simulation competition, that’s designed to develop their entrepreneurship skills. The challenge is now down to just 10 teams from five different universities (approximately 50 students), who will travel to Johannesburg to compete in the two-day final event on the 5 and 6th December 2018.

The ten teams competing in the final includes three teams from the North West University, two from Mangosuthu University of Technology, two from the Vaal University of Technology, two from the University of Limpopo and one from The University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). These teams will be competing for the chance to win up to R50,000.

Related: Call For Applications: Young Entrepreneurs Global Exposure Trips

The aim of the UBC, now in its second year in South Africa and 20th year globally, is to tackle South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

The competition simulates a business environment, with students given a problem to solve. The simulation is designed to foster skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, commercial awareness and team-working. The challenge is designed to empower young people and equip them with the necessary skills to succeed in business.

Tope Toogun, development advisor and CEO of Cognity Advisory says, “Students are very prepared in terms of theory when they leave university, but not the practical skills they need to start and run a business. Seeing as SMEs make up 90 percent of formal businesses it’s really important that these students know how to build a business on their own or at the very least, in small teams.”

Toogun explains how the simulation encourages business skills, “The students competing in the challenge learn all about managing people, customer service, working in teams and how to create a start up without even realising they are being exposed to all these skills. These are the skills that will separate the members in the final. Students must work as a team and make instinctive decisions.”

Cognity Advisory is engaging students through social media competitions and newsletter updates. These competitions include spot prizes for students who post an image or video and receive the highest engagement on it.

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