During the recent IBASA & EPI Webinar, two expert panelists shared their considerable experience and insight on ESD managers’ expectations when looking to appoint business development service providers, and also addressed challenges and opportunities presented to BDS providers and business advising practitioners in the current economy. I am delighted to report that this educational experience was enjoyed by the panelists and 73 attendees alike. Below is my summary of the main observations covered by the panelists and issues raised during the open discussion.
We were fortunate to have two expert panelists on this month’s webinar in the form of Litha Kutta, ESD Executive at Tiger Brands and Anje de Clercq, ESD Consultant at The Thinkingroom. They are active in the ESD industry and were able to share their views on the expectations of ESD managers and their companies, how these have changed over time, challenges for both BDS service providers and practitioners to overcome, as well as highlighting collaboration opportunities to ensure effective long-term impact on the economy.
Litha Kutta has extensive management experience in Local, Provincial and National Government, as well as in the SOE and corporate ESD space. He is currently ESD Executive at Tiger Brands. He shared the ESD buyer’s perspective, some of his personal experiences through case studies, how the ESD world has changed, and his perspective on future ESD requirements.
According to Litha, ESD buyers shares challenges such as Service Providers lacking deep specialization with little understanding of the local and global supply chain offering very generic ESD solutions within a context of an ESD industry with very few set standards.
After sharing his experience citing several case studies such as the dti, Woolworths and Telkom, Litha highlighted that the ESD world has also greatly changed since the introduction of the Codes of Good Practice. The focus, he says, is now on developing core suppliers with the expectation of ESD Return on Investment (programmes need to be outcome based), where ESD manager expertise has changed drastically, ESD solution integration becoming attractive and ESD managers are looking for allies rather than mere service providers.
Litha closed his presentation by highlighting a few future requirements for ESD service providers to secure more business, including offering Turn-key and cutting edge ESD solutions, develop deep networks and digital powered ESD solutions, producing bankable deals, using accredited/certified (ESD) advisers.
Anje de Clercq has in-depth experience in the ESD service provider space. She holds a MPhil Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management degree at the UP. She started her career as Business Development Specialist at Sasol ChemCity, after which she started, developed and successfully sold a small business, while serving as Independent ESD consultant to Enterpriseroom assisting in projects such as Telkom’s ESD programme FutureMakers. Currently at Thinkroom, she serves as SME4Africa (Microsoft) Digital and SME liaison, involving 14 African countries and 14 SME organisations.
Anje highlighted important lessons and experience assisting impactful ESD programmes. She stressed the importance of having a holistic approach, considering the following:
- Running at the pace of the entrepreneur versus the corporate need must be balanced to ensure sustainable impact.
- Go and do it (often a silo approach) versus being an extended part of the team to ensure all developmental dimensions are in place to promote holistic growth.
- Spray and pray, hoping for impact versus a bespoke programmatic approach based on proper baseline studies and integrated, multi-disciplined interventions.
- Managing stakeholder expectations from day one is crucial.
Entrepreneurs telling us what (they think) we want to hear versus what the business adviser needs to hear to be able to provide constructive support.
- Identifying the windows of opportunity for success stories as it does not only boost the confidence of entrepreneurs but also highlights the credibility of impactful ESD interventions.
The webinar was attended by 73 participants from across the industry. The relevance of the topic was supported by the in-webinar poll indicating that 73% of attendees are involved with ESD clients. Participation through 58 exchanges on the chat forum was well leveraged for networking, while the 81% attention rate and in-depth questions proved the subject and panelists’ expertise to be of great value to the participants.
The Question-and-Answer session addressed some pertinent issues such as ESD qualification requirements to enhance credibility, how to ensure corporates not only train in the supply chain to receive BEE points but actually procure from the trainees, the need for collaboration between small ESD providers to deliver impactful solutions, and the need for small providers to network.
The poll on the most pressing challenges in delivering impactful BDS as part of ESD programmes emphasized the perception that corporates still focus on compliance (46%), with BDS providers failing to understand ESD needs scoring 43%. To some extent, this emphasize the gaps between the ESD buyer and BDS service providers and the need for networking and getting to know each other better.
- The next IBASA-EPI Webinar, scheduled for 15 November 2018, will cover the important subject: “Advising your clients on ways to bridge the cash crunch over the summer holidays”
- CLICK HERE to register for the next CPD webinar.
VIEW THE RECORDING OF THE PREVIOUS WEBINAR