On 12 December 2012, the current cycle will come to an end—according to the Mayan long count way of reckoning time, that is. Opinion is divided on what this will portend. Spiritual enlightenment ? Or apocalypse?
Doomsday scenarios aside, just what are the risks that companies and their boards should be factoring into their planning for 2012?
“In 2011, we felt a certain cautious optimism based on the fact that the recession seemed to be nearing its end,” says Michael Davies, managing director of ContinuitySA, Africa’s leading provider of business continuity and disaster recovery. “However, that now appears to have been optimistic.
The global economy is not recovering as quickly as hoped and our currency continues to be volatile—in fact, on balance, we think that the risks of social and political turmoil have actually increased. The danger is that hard-pressed companies may be tempted to cut spending on business continuity. However, given the risks and the new Companies Act, that’s exactly what they should not do.
“The good news is that the rapid maturation of business continuity hosting is making a much more sophisticated offering available. By tapping into the infrastructure-as-a-service model, companies can now begin to turn business continuity capacity from a dormant asset to one that generates value for the IT environment.”
Davies and his team at ContinuitySA have identified what they believe are the top-10 issues facing business in 2012 that are likely to impact on business continuity strategies.
1. Socio-economic challenges ratchet up a notch
Last year, it seemed as though we might be coming out the recession, but now the talk is all about the dreaded double dip. Economic hardship is exacerbating social and political tensions, especially as retrenchments swell the hordes of unemployed. Too many people without work or the prospect of it places a huge burden on the state, provides the climate for crime and is likely to fuel tension between the haves and the have-nots.
2. Government performance and service delivery still lag behind expectation
Ongoing service delivery and corruption issues have continued to fuel widespread social unrest. Some commentators are even talking about popular uprisings comparable to those that occurred earlier in the year in North Africa. Instability in the ruling party continues to unsettle political and social life, and this will only get worse as the ANC’s leadership conference approaches. Meanwhile—no doubt fuelled in part by the economic problems mentioned above—strikes and social protests seem to be getting more prevalent.
For business, one direct consequence is frequent work stoppages, with staff actually finding it hard to get to their places of work.
“It seems that South Africa is coming to a crossroads again, faced with the choice between the high and low roads,” says Davies. “We have to have confidence that our leadership will make the right choices but, meanwhile, prudence demands a renewed focus on safety measures, including proper business continuity plans.”
3. National infrastructure remains weak—and the middle class is feeling the pinch
While Eskom contrived to come through a very cold winter with relatively few blackouts, concern remains high as summer is the time for planned maintenance. Another concern is the availability of skills to maintain the aging infrastructure at Koeberg, and to operate planned new nuclear power facilities. On the positive side, recent moves to introduce independent power generation and green power into the South African energy market are welcome.
That said, there are worrying reports that lack of additional energy capacity at present is affecting the ability of some data centres to expand.
Other infrastructural challenges include the new toll roads around Gauteng and the new national health insurance system. While both are desirable, they are placing additional financial burdens on the middle class—i.e. the small tax base on which everything rests. Is the middle class coming close to feeling as squeezed as the poor and unemployed and, if so, how will it make its distress known?
4. Water remains a concern
Water security remains a problem in this country, exacerbated by the pollution of our existing water stocks.
Although the government finally woke up to the problem of acid mine drainage and made R400 million available, media reports indicate that little action has actually occurred. If substantial progress is not made in finding a solution, the acid water is expected to begin decanting into the Johannesburg basin in March 2012—it is already decanting on the West Rand. Companies with IT equipment in basements need to remain on high alert.
5. Worsening business climate
The risks mentioned elsewhere will continue to weigh on risk-averse foreign investors, while the volatility of the rand will encourage destabilising capital movements. The socio-political challenges we have mentioned are also taking their toll on the outlook of local business. With the business confidence index declining, investment in equipment and people will be curtailed at a time when they are more necessary than ever. Militant unions and demands for increases that are significantly above inflation are further worsening the business outlook.
With revenues under pressure, many companies will be tempted to skimp on business continuity but this approach is short-sighted.
6. Regulatory burdens and responsibilities increase
Promulgated during 2011, the new Companies Act has made the directors of companies personally liable for the outcome of their decisions. The legislation is new and untested, making compliance even more risky than it might otherwise have been.
In combination with the recommendations of the King Commission, the new act has made risk management a much more important item on the board agenda—and this includes IT risk.
Boards are increasingly accountable to all stakeholders rather than just shareholders. In this regard, environmental issues are becoming more prominent, which may add impetus to the move towards cloud computing, which has the effect of greening the IT department.
7. The sting in the supply chain tail
Recent natural disasters like the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have emphasised the flipside of global interconnectedness. In order to ensure business continuity, companies must increasingly consider their entire supply chains. Adequate consulting around the business continuity threats originating outside of the organization is imperative.
8. Cloud computing blurs vision
As predicted, 2011 saw considerable movement in cloud computing. While it’s clear that cloud computing has real benefits, non-specialist public cloud offerings should not be confused with specialist business continuity, which is also making use of cloud-based approaches.
“The need to have absolute quality assurance and security in terms of your business continuity remains, especially in light of boards’ enhanced accountability,” Davies notes. “On the other hand, the greater availability of bandwidth and improvements in technology are changing the model.”
9. Mobility is creating huge new data risks
The growing range of smart mobile devices, and the explosion in useful applications, has made mobility a fact of life. At the same time, there is growing awareness of the value of a company’s data, hence the emergence of “data as a platform”. Securing and backing up the corporate data on mobile devices usually owned by employees rather than companies is raising CIOs’ temperatures worldwide.
10. Business continuity is still not integrated into corporate strategy
Given the scale and magnitude of the challenges business faces, the danger remains that business continuity is marginalised and siloed. In many instances, financial pressures are causing companies to cut back on business continuity. For example, banks which have retrenched large numbers of people now have excess office space which they tend to use to provide their own workplace recovery—and this may lead to a business continuity solution that is less than optimal.
A related issue is that the long-term viability of smaller business continuity providers is looking less certain in this climate. We think this will prompt a “flight to quality” in many cases.
As indicated above, the emergence of new opportunities to remodel business continuity using a private cloud approach is a game-changer, offering cost savings, a much more effective product and the opportunity to get a return on your business continuity investment.
“The outlook is less optimistic than it was 12 months ago, and the ANC’s leadership conference during 2012 will unfortunately distract government’s attention from its real job. On the positive side, companies that understand the risks can plan accordingly—and troubled times also create tremendous opportunity for those with their wits about them,” concludes Davies.
Improve Your Cash Flow: Manage Your VAT
Viresh Harduth, Vice President: New Customer Acquisition (Small & Medium Businesses) for Sage Africa & Middle East on the increase in VAT in South Africa and how it affects your business.
If you went shopping on 1 April, you likely encountered aisles and aisles of products with no price tags as retailers updated their shelf pricing to reflect the new VAT rate. As a consumer, this was probably a slight inconvenience because you didn’t know how much something cost until you had to pay.
Yet, as a small business owner, the VAT increase was more than a slight inconvenience. Not only did you have to update your systems and train your teams but you likely had to spend money printing new price tags and ensuring you were compliant – this was, after all, the biggest tax change in 25 years.
The VAT increase will also impact your cash flow because you will need to pay more money to SARS. But now that the dust has settled, Small & Medium Businesses have an opportunity to review their operations and uncover ways to improve their cash flow and offset the higher VAT payments.
Here are five ideas to free up cash that are easy to implement and don’t require major changes to your business:
- Negotiate extended payment terms with suppliers. When you receive an invoice, you generally have 30 days to pay. Try to negotiate longer payment terms with your suppliers – like 60 days – so that you have cash in the bank for longer.
- Enforce your own payment terms for customers. The time between issuing invoices and waiting to get paid is a danger zone for small businesses, especially when you need to pay VAT to SARS. Reduce your payment terms for customers from one month to 14 days, for example, and stick to it. Send regular reminders on overdue accounts and follow up on the phone.
- Incentivise customers to pay earlier. Offer various payment methods that make it easier for customers to settle their accounts sooner. Issue invoices promptly and offer discounts for early – and full – payment. This will also increase loyalty.
- Reduce stock on hand. If you have surplus stock, it means you haven’t aligned your stock with your sales, which ties up available cash. Stock management is as important as financial management. Knowing what’s in your stock room – and bank account – at all times, is crucial to maximise cash flow.
- Work with an accountant. While cloud-based accounting solutions like Sage can help you keep track of your cash flow and stay compliant, an accountant can identify areas to save money and cut costs, freeing up working and investment capital.
When you improve your cash flow, you reduce the need to rely on bank overdrafts and loans. The key to the success of any business is to free up as much cash as possible. And, with the VAT increase, you need more cash than you did yesterday.
*Remember, you have until 31 May to reflect the VAT increase in your product and service prices. Until then, you can apply the additional 1% at the till point, as long as you put up signs informing customers that you will be doing this.
R350 000 Worth Prizes To Help Boost Entrepreneurs’ Businesses
Find out more here.
Even more prizes to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses have boosted the entrepreneur competition being run by The Workspace and MiWay. These include communications strategy, responsive design website, a share portfolio worth R10 000 and estate planning.
The competition, launched in March to celebrate the collaboration between co-working and serviced office solutions company, The Workspace, and MiWay business insurance, is open to entrepreneurs based in South Africa, who have valid identification documents, who run a business with four or less employees and are making an impact in their industry.
The Workspace and MiWay have joined forces to launch an entrepreneurial hub and business development programme at the newly developed Village Road premises in Selby in Johannesburg’s central business district. MiWay’s presence at Village Road will afford The Workspace members the convenience of having business insurance and a host of other requirements fulfilled at their place of work whenever it suits them.
Entrepreneurship key to SA’s future
Mari Schourie, chief executive officer of The Workspace, says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent SONA reflected on how important small businesses and entrepreneurship is to South Africa’s future.
“I was thrilled that President Ramaphosa recognised how vitally important it is for everyone – business, government and citizens – to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. It is something that as a company, we’ve made a core part of our business. Being in the co-working and serviced office industry, we work with entrepreneurs and small businesses every day. They are the backbone of our business,” she said.
Schourie emphasised how the company had developed in-house programmes to support them. “When we can utilise their services ourselves, we do. We run workshops and knowledge hubs to encourage ongoing skills development and the joy of learning. We’ve even put some of our entrepreneurs at the centre of our marketing campaigns; we live and breathe the business lives of our entrepreneur members. And we learn from them too.”
Schourie said recognising entrepreneurs and small businesses sometimes means changing our thinking and looking a little bit further than our immediate surroundings. For this reason she believes the entrepreneur competition is so important to help give businesses a leg up.
Related: Register A Company In South Africa
The prizes – worth R350 000
The winning business will not only receive 12 months free office space for up to four people, free Wi-Fi, free phone rental, free business insurance and business advice, as well as all risk equipment insurance, free tea and coffee, free usage of meeting and board rooms, free security and 24-hour access, free parking and a new laptop, but even more valuable business prizes have been added too.
These include a brand new responsive design website and content management system, logo and corporate identity design, SEO and social media set up as well as training in how to keep digital collateral up to date worth R24 500.00 from Webartist.
Opulentus Wealth are offering the winner a bespoke share portfolio for the business worth R10 000, business life stage Risk Assessment, Estate plan for the Directors and shareholders valued at R15 000 per plan, Advice on managing and improving cash flow with the business (R10 000) and Tax advice for the business (R5000) Oxigen Communications will build the company a compelling brand communication strategy as well as offer two strategic sessions worth over R50 000.
“The entrepreneur competition is a call to action to those vibrant entrepreneurs out there. Start-ups always need a bit of a hand and the winner of this competition will have a serious advantage once the it has gone through its paces,” said Morné Stoltz, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay.
“We are looking for an entrepreneur who has created or is busy creating a special environment where employees can flourish, and in the process, potentially create more jobs. Stoltz adds, “An entrepreneur who makes an impression on the judges due to aspects such as the business’ social impact, attitude, positive entrepreneurial outlook and a good business mind will definitely stand a good chance of walking away with the prize.”.
The prize on offer – worth over R350 000 – will help set-up the winning entrepreneur for a period of 12 months, giving them a boost to help build their business.
Closing date: 15 May 2018
For details, click here.
For queries, please email email@example.com
Entries can be uploaded to the website, or delivered to One Chadwick Avenue, Wynberg, Sandton
Why Is It Important To Grow Manufacturing?
Manufacturing Indaba will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on the 19th and 20th of June, 2018 and will be facilitated with the collaborative backing and strategic partnership of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and the Manufacturing Circle, a corporate association of manufacturers.
One of the aspects of the conference will be to focus on South Africa’s manufacturing as a fundamental driver of GDP growth and associated with direct employment, as many services sectors are likely to increase their employment capacity on the basis of an increased GDP.
Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA 2018) and alluded to addressing the decline over many years of South Africa’s manufacturing capacity, which has deeply affected employment and exports. As a result, poverty levels have risen, economic growth has weakened, with the President stating that it has become imperative to re-industrialise on a scale and at a pace that draws millions of job seekers into the economy. Unemployment levels have risen due to looming investment downgrades; hence he emphasised the need for a focus on local manufacturing and production.
Nicholas Kaldor (Zalk, 2014) developed a set of hypotheses to explain the central role of manufacturing in the process of economic development. He contended that manufacturing reveals a unique characteristic: The capacity to generate ‘dynamic increasing returns’, displaying a positive correlation with GDP growth while other primary and tertiary sectors generally do not. That is, indicating that the faster the rate of growth of output in manufacturing, the faster the rate of growth of both manufacturing and economy-wide productivity (Thirlwall, 1983, as cited in Zalk, 2014). Thus, clarifying that manufacturing is the core driver of GDP growth and employment while other sectors, particularly many services sectors are only likely to grow on the basis of the growing demand derived and resulting from an increasing GDP. Therefore, growth and employment in most services sectors follow rather than lead growth in GDP (Zalk, 2014).
In accordance with the vital importance of this sector’s encouraged growth, the President undertook to promote greater investment in key manufacturing sectors through the strategic use of incentives and other measures. Accordingly, and further stimulating manufacturing by forging ahead with the localisation programme, through which products like textile, clothing, furniture, rail rolling stock and water meters will be designated for local procurement. Ramaphosa also reiterated that the country had spent more than R57 billion on locally-produced goods that otherwise might have been imported from other countries.
The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2017/18 – 2019/20 report as part of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 outlines sector specific goals and a vision for South Africa to be achieved by the year 2030 and referred to inherent structural challenges within the economy that remain difficult to overcome. These challenges include weak growth and domestic demand reflecting and contributing to persistent unemployment, resulting in unsustainable race and gender-based inequality and rural marginalisation. Value-add in manufacturing lagged behind the economy as a whole from 2008, and investment in manufacturing has declined since the global credit crisis. The IPAP report also indicated that investment as a share of GDP is also below the 25% level required for sustained economic expansion.
In light of this aspect, Ramaphosa at SONA referred to the special economic zones that will remain important instruments that SA will use to attract strategic foreign and domestic direct investment and build targeted industrial capabilities in order to establish new industrial hubs. He also emphasised that the process of industrialisation must be underpinned by transformation, and that through measures like preferential procurement and the black industrialists programme, a new generation of black and women producers will be able to build enterprises of significant scale and capability.
The objective industrial financing and incentive support has played a key role in supporting private sector investment and black economic empowerment in critical industrial areas. Another example and a high point of 2016/7 has been the Automotive Investment Scheme with R8.7bn on investment leveraged through 2 new projects with an estimated investment value of R548.9m, projected to create 1 140 jobs. Included in this buoyant mix is the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme (MCEP) which has reopened a R1bn loan component with 270 projects supported, and R8.24m disbursed thereby supporting R3.38b of investments & 62 2353 jobs.
Bearing these examples in mind, and Ramaphosa’s affirmation at SONA that, “…at the centre of our national agenda in 2018 is the creation of jobs, especially for the youth”, Philippa Rodseth, executive director, Manufacturing Circle (2016, in The importance of Manufacturing for SA’s economic growth), stated that in order to promote a resilient, sustainable manufacturing environment, three goals were identified in order to secure the long-term sustainability of South Africa’s manufacturing industry.
Hence, these following aspects will ultimately contribute to the economic growth of the country-: the achievement of a competitive manufacturing environment, the attainment of a supportive international trade position and the advancement of the reputation of SA manufactured goods.
These issues and other pertinent topics relating to Manufacturing in South Africa and the continent will be considered, evaluated and debated at the upcoming prestigious Manufacturing Indaba conference in June, in this year of “hope and renewal.”
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