Businessman wants to see black empowerment extended

BLACK economic empowerment has ignited a spirit of entrepreneurship but there is still a long way to go.

Nicholas Maweni, owner of MaweNguni Holdings, which owns the Virgin Mobile retail outlets in Eastern Cape and is also group marketing director of Crossroads Distribution, spoke to Sowetan on the journey covered by BEE since the dawn of democracy.

"Since the introduction of BEE South Africans have been ignited to have a sense of hope that anyone can take part in the mainstream economy," Maweni said.

"BEE has seen young people across the country starting businesses everywhere," he said.

Maweni said there had been three waves of the BEE concept.

"The first wave began in 1993 with New Africa Investment Limited (Nail), which focused on ownership and management, which provided a rather narrow view to economic empowerment.

"The second wave was around 1997 when the Black Management Forum proposed the establishment of a BEE Commission, which released its report in 2001 seeking to broaden BEE. Hence the birth of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE)," Maweni said.

Maweni said this second wave and model was meant to allow currently marginalised South Africans to benefit from empowerment deals and stimulate transformation at all levels.

The third wave was the shift to focus on preferential procurement, which could create entrepreneurs while stimulating the economy.

The recession that followed was a big blow to BEE.

"Because of the economic meltdown banks were reluctant to fund BEE deals.

"The change of guard in the country also made companies play a wait-and-see game," Maweni said.

"Though more people benefited from BBBEE it still failed to make a significant impact on unemployment."

Maweni said the BEE concept was a good idea because it addresses economic inequalities created during the apartheid era.

But Maweni say BEE still had to be modified.

"A new approach would be to ask big companies to use black businesses for services such as plumbing. This would give a boost to enterprise development," said Maweni.