BEE an imperative for economic growth

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While righting wrongs of the past is certainly part of the thinking behind black economic empowerment, the transformation of the workplace is also an economic imperative.

Opening the Dti/Cida City Campus BEE Conference in Sandton, head of the BEE division at the Department of Trade and Industry, Polo Radebe, acknowledged the problems that SMEs face and outlined her department?s strategy to deal with the issue. This includes merging the Ntsika and Namac agencies, a new Enterprise Development Bill and a fund for micro credit.

Radebe also committed the Dti to ensuring that the financial institutions deliver on their charter obligations to make R75billion available over 5 years for financing emerging businesses.

Ajay Lalu of Ernst and Young told delegates that while BEE is often described as a socio-economic process he looks at it as an "economic-social? process. The long-term success of the new South Africa will only be secured with higher rates of growth than we have been seeing in recent years, according to Lalu.

"While there are around 42million people living in South Africa, only about 8-10million are contributing to our GDP,' explained Lalu.

For Robin Woolley, programme director for the conference, all businesses should be aligning their business strategy with the empowerment strategy. "Companies need to come up with creative strategies to enable both transformation and financial success,' according to Woolley.

The conference focused on the specific needs of SMEs and the practical issues they deal with when implementing BEE. Other speakers covered issues such as employee share ownership schemes and the direct sale of equity in businesses.

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