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There is an increasing need to find innovative ways that provide SMMEs with access to markets which go above and beyond adequately developing an entrepreneur. Due to the make-up of corporates’ procurement spend as well as entrenched supply relationships, it is not always possible for high potential SMMEs to gain access and establish traditional procurement relationship with a corporate.

This presents opportunity to achieve access to markets for SMMEs through innovative and unconventional means. Means that foster strategic business partnerships that are well placed to catalyse the corporate’s business, commercial and transformation strategy to increase their share of market and entry into new markets. This can be achieved by creating and capacitating entrepreneurs who operate in non-traditional markets to become brand ambassadors that will drive brand loyalty through retail activity. This is the environment in which we, the corporate and the entrepreneur achieve true shared value.

As professionals that have been operating in the Enterprise & Supplier Development (ESD) industry for more than a decade, with experience that ranges from corporate to consulting services, we have witnessed the power that stems from the interconnected and direct relationship between stimulation of an entrepreneurship on one hand and the ultimate achievement of sustained economic growth on the other.

The philosophical questions we continue to ask ourselves however, are the “how and what” rather than the “why and when”. Much like ourselves at Zevoli, ESD programmes continue to grapple with properly understanding and adequately addressing what the need is for SMME development vs the need for access to markets. This poses an ongoing challenge for ESD professionals to find the sweet spot in achieving a balance and the desired results.

There is therefore, a general appreciation for the need to shift away from a blanket approach in favour of a more targeted one that aims to specifically resolve the unique and individual needs of entrepreneurs.

In our experience, when deciding on the appropriateness of the intervention for the targeted entrepreneurs it is critical to ensure that the basket of interventions is geared to meet the needs of a diverse range of entrepreneurs, closely aligned with the literacy and maturity levels as well as the business life cycle of the SMME. This will ensure that the programme and interventions are appropriately pitched to be effective and meaningful to the entrepreneur by going above and beyond adequate development of that entrepreneur.

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