At the heart of the success of the Enterpriseroom are good advice, a stable support structure and a unique platform that serves as a sounding board for SMMEs. Their core focus is supporting Enterprise Development in corporate and government institutions to promote entrepreneurship.

Nozizwe Jele, the Head of Implementation at the Enterpriseroom is mandated to promote entrepreneurial growth, specifically in black-owned businesses. She is a former management consultant, a role that exposed her to various sectors that equipped her with the tools to steer SMMEs to incorporate themselves into the supply chains of organisations operating in their specific sector.

“The steps I follow when interacting with SMMEs begins with determining their unique needs, as well as identifying their core challenges and opportunities available to them. The stakeholders participating in the programme are briefed on the individual findings, to ensure all aspects of the SMME are taken into account before formulating a plan. Having a full account of their strengths and weaknesses, allows all parties to work together which will increase the prospect of success,” explains Jele.

Transitioning from management consulting to the functional head of the Enterpriseroom gave Jele the opportunity to provide SMMEs hands-on support. “Critical in guiding SMMEs, is equipping them to understand the policies that guide their specific sector, the ability to assess their value propositions and the capability to formulate strategies to facilitate positive growth,” says Jele. There has been a major shift in how corporates approach SMME development, which was initially hinged on compliance only. She adds “This change in the corporate mindset demonstrates the process is maturing, with a more collaborative and enabling environment emerging.”

The Enterpriseroom targets corporates opting to outsource their transformation initiatives to experts or those seeking post-project assistance, for example by conducting an assessment of SMME projects. Another focus area is supporting SMMEs seeking to improve their business acumen or increase their capacity by partnering with large corporates. Various interventions include exposure to Enterprise Development opportunities, whereby, over time, they can elevate to Supplier Development opportunities through one intervention. Part of this process is educating SMMEs on the policies that guide the sector they operate in, for example, sector charters. “Essentially, we link SMMEs and corporates, so there is a pipeline of potential SMME suppliers to offer solutions or services that have a favourable Preferential Procurement Recognition. Over the years, there has been tremendous growth in terms of revenue and jobs created in a number of SMMEs we have work with,” Jele points out.

Reflecting on the Enterpriseroom’s partnership with C4G, Jele’s view is that they have done a great job of bringing players together in the ecosystem. “Through engagement facilitated by C4G, it appears that all operating in the Enterprise Development Ecosystem, are working towards one common purpose, despite being competitors in the market. I think it would be beneficial to C4G to initiate and lead more engagements such as workshops, seminars or discussion forums whereas a collective body, we can build out collaboration on an ongoing basis to share lessons learnt that would result in driving SMMEs success,” asserts Jele.

The Enterpriseroom is one of the seven BDSPs that participated in the Beta stage. “We are excited about the progress C4G is making, especially as they enter the post-Beta stage. This is where further industry trends and the results of the benchmarking process will be revealed,” she adds. “On reflecting, C4G has come a long way in building trust and fostering an environment that allows all participants in the ecosystem to talk openly together, which will ultimately benefit all of all,” comments Jele.

Regulations, specifically that of B-BBEE both support and encourage women-owned businesses. However, Jele feels that there is still a shortfall in the amount of women-owned businesses operating in South Africa. “In the supply chain space, we often struggle to find women-owned businesses. This stems from a shortage of women operating in historically male-dominated professions, as well as a lack of guidance and knowledge on how to enter a supply chain. To tackle these issues, we equip women-owned businesses across sectors to identify opportunities, then provide the necessary competencies so that they can enter an unchartered sector whether independently or as a collective body. “As the leaders of women-owned businesses come together on our platform, they learn from one another, share ideas then begin to trade with one another, which is essentially the desired outcome,” summarises Jele.

“The Enterpriseroom encourages women to challenge themselves so they can thrive as business owners. For some women, this means moving outside their comfort zone, yet for others, it is about familiarising themselves with opportunities available which they can grasp and then benefit from,” concludes Jele.