The national broad-based BEE (BBBEE) strategy was born out of the constitutional requirement for previously disadvantaged individuals and entities in SA to allow for equal access to the economy. It comprises three measurable components, namely direct investment, human development and employment equity, and indirect empowerment.
The BBBEE scorecard for each SA company indicates the measure of success they are having in contributing to this national strategy.
BCX’s BBBEE strategy is embedded in its operational business practices and has been implemented in a variety of ways — from corporate social investment, investments in SMMEs, to human resource development.
“BBBEE is firmly entrenched in our business and we have made a strong commitment to contribute towards the BBBEE objectives of the country”, says Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen, chief marketing officer at BCX.
BCX aspires to be a transformational company “where diversity is valued as an asset and is part of our DNA”, says Ntloko-Petersen. BCX’s transformation imperatives are more than a compliance-driven exercise as it aims to make real changes to the lives of previously disadvantaged individuals and businesses.
Over the past few years, the organisation has focused its energy on building a pipeline of digital skills and innovation capability among disadvantaged youth to address the challenge of youth unemployment and support SMMEs to diversify their own supply chains and encourage entrepreneurial expediency as a contributor to the economy.
According to Ntloko-Petersen, the programmes and investments are making an impact. This is evidenced by BCX having maintained its level 1 BBBEE status, and much of that is owed to the developmental work it is doing across multiple verticals.
“Implementing BBBEE to comply with regulations and policy is not enough,” says Ntloko-Petersen. “We need to get involved and ensure that the action taken is positively contributing to the businesses and individuals we invest in.”
BCX has invested in various enterprise and supplier development programmes that support SMMEs, such as the BCX Innovation Programme. The programme incubates and accelerates enterprises that develop solutions in areas such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
These enterprises are incubated using a five-stage methodology, which encompasses ideation through to acceleration, scaling and growth. Through its strategic partnerships, BCX is able to provide entrepreneurs with seed funding and growth capital through the R100m IDF future fund.
In addition, BCX is a major contributor to the Telkom Futuremakers programme, which is an enterprise and supplier development initiative focusing on increasing subcontracting opportunities for SMMEs. The enterprises are supported with regards to gap analysis, industry strategy, mentorship, financial management, skills development and back office support.
BCX continues to support local SMMEs through its preferential procurement policy. During the 2019/2020 financial year, BCX achieved 113% spend from BBBEE-compliant entities.
Skilling the market
“Our skills development initiatives are focused on skilling underprivileged youth with future skills in ICT, such as coding and data science. We do this by partnering with carefully selected accredited organisations and colleges. In doing so, we hope to inspire social change,” says Ntloko-Petersen.
BCX’s skills development strategy is focused on various initiatives towards increasing digital skills capability among youth, including a coding skills academy, data science academy, digital business management development programme and various learnerships and internships.
The Explore Data Science Academy is a 12-month accredited skills data science programme of which BCX is a founding partner, and has invested R50m training more than 300 interns in the past three years. The academy was successful in placing about 70% of the programme’s interns in positions at various organisations.
The skills development strategy is not solely focused on students: BCX also caters for the development of SMMEs through the Partner Programme, a community portal for SMME partners aimed at unlocking the market and client opportunities for small businesses.
“The shortage of skills and the abundance of blockages that exist for entrepreneurs to access the supply chain network have been discussed extensively and are evident for all to see. This is just another way we can add value to the SMMEs we deal with,” says Ntloko-Petersen.
“As a business it’s easy to view BEE as a box-ticking exercise, with the resources spent on achieving the various stages of accreditation treated as a grudge purchase. The point is to view and treat the process as an investment into the business, community and the country itself.”
Every company has a responsibility to ensure the development and sustainability of the communities in which they operate. It is a symbiotic relationship that benefits not only the participants of the various initiatives, but the company itself.
BCX is committed to transformation to address the complex challenges facing our country.