A thriving small business community is a sign of a prosperous economy. In South Africa, a new network has been launched to help build engagement with these enterprises.
Procurement on-line portals that efficiently link prospective buyers with qualified small enterprises are the next big thing.
Technology is now available that allows us to quickly and smartly facilitate business transactions for mutual benefit, why are we not doing more to support Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs)? Central and local government departments spend billions; some of this procurement expenditure can be channelled in to the development of the SMME sector.
Some ‘portals’ exist primarily to deliver advice and guidance, that’s useful but it’s not enough.
Why is developing SMMEs important?
A thriving and growing small business community is a sign of a healthy economy. One main objective across Africa is to stimulate economic growth and create jobs; this is one way to do it.
Public sector bodies in South Africa have been urged to ensure their purchasing strategies “explicitly recognise the significant benefits of procuring from local small businesses”. The Minister in charge of small business development said that small businesses have been “historically shut out as a result of bureaucratic and costly procurement practices which favoured big suppliers”.
Developing the SMME sector solves many challenges for governments and for companies that have diversity or enterprise development targets.
South Africa’s initiative
South Africa has a fully functioning SMME solution that has now been in operation for five years. The Supply Chain Network (SCN) came about by necessity. Organisations are required by government to assist in creating jobs for the lesser skilled and unemployed sectors of the population. This portal is made affordable by the support of big businesses and especially by one of the major banks.
It works for the seller by…
- Providing a profile page with all key information about the seller
- Showing the seller’s credentials, certifications and trade references
- Providing a platform for advertising goods and services using an e-catalogue with images
SCN provides a verification service that allows the approved seller to get a priority listing in search results. Sellers with a high profile score have a better chance of attracting bigger and better clients.
A great feature is easy access to tenders. Available tenders are interrogated using a powerful search facility which all allows for setting up alerts using key words. Tenders can be accessed in summary form or in full detail, saving time and effort for the seller.
Better still, it works for the buyer…
- SCN manages vendor certification renewals so that all credentials are current, including Tax Clearance and Company Registration
- Buyers can use verified information to update their master vendor files
- Due diligence is simplified, as buyers can rely on the integrity of the profile information
- The search function uses standard industry terminology (UNSPSC) and smart filters
The SCN system also provides an eRFQ facility with built-in rules. Suppliers can upload all their attachments electronically as part of the response. It is an on-line paperless solution that includes automatic notification to suppliers of any changes, updates, withdrawal, regrets and awards. Particularly useful is the full audit trail on all sourcing activity.
Supply Chain Network in South Africa is a low-cost solution that aims to promote the objectives of growing a healthy small business community. Why can’t it work in other emerging markets?
You can find out all you need to know about the Supply Chain Network on its website.