In a previous post I wrote about the various business linkages platforms in South Africa. In this post I would like to explore what might be missing in these platforms and what the various things are that you might need to put in order to secure business with creditable black owned companies in South Africa.
Supplier databases or supplier lists have been quite lucrative in South Africa. Unfortunately very few companies out there verify anything more than a company registration and a BBBEE certificate. Suppliers have also become a lot more demanding in terms of which business listing services they should pay for and what they would get in return for paying to list their business.
Many listing companies have tried to attract suppliers by giving them access to tender opportunities. By doing this they have use government tender platforms to supplement their own opportunities. The downside to this has been that small suppliers have been inundated with tender spam. Unfortunately very few business linkages have been able to create intelligent platforms that are able to send the correct tender documentation to the correct suppliers. Mostly the reasons for this is that many government tender opportunities are not correctly labeled or indexed.
As any small business will know the first task in any Search Engine Optimization exercise is business listing. For this reason many small businesses seek to list themselves with as many business listing sites before they have any business of substance. This leads to significant duplication in business listings as well as many dormant business listings. Some business listing sites have sought to limit this practice by requesting small businesses to adhere to various demands for financial records, owner ID documents etc. etc. before they would go about activating the listing. This helps to some extent for the user of the lists, but many small business that are doing well financially do not want to make their finances known, because of the threat of competitors seeing their information.
We offer more than only being black and small
Many business linkages or listing services have a myopic view on companies that are Small and Black Owned. Unfortunately the downside to this is that you are not able to know more about the company such as the products and services that they offer. In some cases there are linkages services that specifically focus on the products and services first before looking at the ownership of the company.
Many of the companies that offer business linkages services provide you with contact information, a category of spend, a BBBEE certificate and a geographic location. Other than this you might need to scramble for yourself. Some of the larger companies in the industry have auditing services in order to verify the companies that they will be dealing with. This becomes even more if you consider a long term relationship with this company. Depending on what you are seeking to audit these services can be outsourced. On the more expensive side companies like SGS and Bureau Veritas offer these services. Otherwise try the services of ISIS who would be able to verify the services of a supplier as well as provide you with an indication of the gaps that a supplier might have in their current growth making it easier for you to fit your ED services to that specific company.
A solution to the missing link
One solution is to look at the various business linkages models that are industry specific or even company specific. If you cannot find one for your industry then think about starting a linkages model that might be more cost effectively for you in the long run. If you are working in a specific geographic area then consider working with you local chamber of commerce on developing a linkages model for your area or industry. Be careful though to think through how the linkages model would work as well as how your supplier would reach you.
Further also think through linking your Enterprise and Supplier Development efforts to your business linkages platform. Think through what the advantages are for centralizing your Enterprise and Supplier Development efforts around a business linkages model. By doing this you might find that your ability to develop according to the demand and industry standards might be easier to target than various companies developing the same companies simultaneously.