Big shifts are about to shape the work of those involved in business advising — whether as a mentor, coach, consultant, trainer, or any other role aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. However, business advisors have an opportunity to influence the details of these shifts through participation in a national discussion on assuring quality in Business Development Services (BDS).
This emerged from a series of events and meetings over the past two years and the circulation of a draft discussion paper on quality assurance in Business Advising Services (BAS) as a component of BDS. Interested parties are offered the opportunity to comment on this document up till the end of May 2019. The aim is to incorporate comments received into the final version of the discussion paper.
The radical growth in entrepreneurship support in South Africa over recent years is driving up demand for BDS, but as the demand increases, more and more questions are being asked about the quality of the services being offered and the lack of the desired impact on the success of the client businesses.
The Institute of Business Advisors (IBASA) is hosting a webinar on Wednesday 22 May 2019 where the discussion paper will be presented by two of its authors and where business advisors will have the opportunity to raise their points of view.
CLICK HERE to register for the webinar.
In 1996, when the first ever national policy on small enterprise promotion was enacted, there were less than a handful of organisations supporting entrepreneurs. Compare this to today, with over 300 listed BDS programmes in Gauteng alone, plus many more Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) initiatives managed by large firms as part of their Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) strategy! A wild guess is that there may be as many as 2 000 active BDS initiatives nationally if all the government small enterprise programmes, corporate ESD projects, incubators, accelerators, co-work spaces, training programmes, entrepreneurship courses and network activities are added together!
Quality of BDS questioned
As a country, South Africa can indeed feel proud of the increase in the recognition of entrepreneurship as a key driver in the economy of our future. We’ve gained significantly in offering support to entrepreneurs and small businesses; but are we achieving the intended impact with all these programmes and is the increased BDS spend delivering an acceptable return on investment?
These are some of the questions at the centre of discussions on quality assurance, taking place at events such as the SEED Symposium, the International Conference on Business Advising (ICBA), the launch of the Services Seta’s Entrepreneurship and Cooperatives Development Institute (ECDI), and member events organised by the Institute of Business Advisors Southern Africa (IBASA). The Department of Small Business Development (DBSD) also hosted a meeting of professional bodies where preferred mechanisms for ensuring quality BAS delivery was discussed.
Key themes emerging from these discussions, including the desirability of regulating the BAS industry, development of business advising standards, and monitoring and enforcement of quality services.
Comments on discussion paper welcomed
In aiming to understand these themes better through industry-wide engagement, some of the parties involved in the discussions developed a document titled “Draft Discussion Paper On Improving the Quality of Business Advisory Services In South Africa To Stimulate Debate, Policy Consideration and Strategies”. A copy of the discussion paper is available HERE.
The authors of the discussion paper include Dr Tsiliso Tamasane and Liesel Kӧstlich of the Services Seta, and Div De Villiers and Rest Kanju of SEED.
“In the discussion paper we highlight gaps between supply and demand such as specific qualification for business advisors and the lack of agreed standard in the BAS industry, and we call on the various stakeholders in business advising to comment on the draft paper so that we can include a range of perspectives in the final version,” says Div de Villiers, co-author and panelist on the upcoming IBASA webinar.
The discussion paper touches on very important themes, which business advisors have to be informed about so that they can participate in this discussion, such as:
Creating a common language by defining key concepts such as that BAS forms a component of the overall BDS market and that disciplines such as mentoring, coaching, consulting and training all form part of BAS.
The lack of standards and agreed impact measures in the BAS industry.
Considerations for self-regulation by the industry vs central regulation by government.
Creating a framework for quality assurance consisting of four supporting strategies, namely:
– Creating standards, and
– Education and training.
“There is a need to understand the implications of each of these strategies and choices that go with it. There are some differences in interpretation, scope and application, which still need to be resolved,” says de Villiers.
Written submissions may be emailed before 30 May to firstname.lastname@example.org or TsilisoT@serviceseta.org.za.