Bridging gap between corporates and suppliers
Accessing and penetrating the private sector is a daunting challenge faced by small and medium enterprises on a daily basis.
Malcolm Farrel, the CEO of Supply Chain Network, a company that assists entrepreneurs to gain access to corporates, said it was difficult to access corporates because the process used in the business environment was broken.
He was addressing dozens of small, medium and micro enterprises entrepreneurs at the recent Sowetan Dialogues themed Access to Markets and Bridging the Gap at Gold Reef City in association with the Small Enterprises Development Agency (Seda) in a bid to create a conducive working environment for up-and-coming business people.
"I am sure you will all agree with me that gaining access to corporates is difficult, it's tough. When you phone corporates and say you would like to be a part of their supplier database, typically the answer is going to be 'send us an e-mail with your company profile and we will get back to you' and they never get back to you," Farrell said.
He said the biggest challenge for corporates was that they do not have the capacity to enlist potential suppliers.
"Their enterprise resource planning systems are geared towards businesses they do business with. That's why when you call them they say you should send them an e-mail."
Farrell said this has been mitigated by the introduction of a supplier network technology, which now has over 80,000 businesses signed on to it.
"Now the opportunity for corporates to discover businesses is becoming much easier. The challenge is when that corporate wants to do business with an SMME. The challenge is where do they find those supplies? But [with] the supplier network market, a corporate can log on to Supply Chain Network where they can find suppliers that meet their needs," he said.
Vuyo Ntshoko, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller's (GEP) general manager for strategy, monitoring and evaluation, said the challenge of penetrating the corporate space was lack of access to information.
"One thing that is lacking in SMMEs is lack of access to information in relation to opportunities. The key issue that we are focusing on as GEP is to make sure that we target a more collaborative approach in terms of grouping together SMMEs according to their specialty and linking them to the private sector where they are needed," she said.