Breaking down B-BBEE barriers

Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and of CSR at Growthpoint Properties

Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and of CSR at Growthpoint Properties

Property Point gives black-owned SMMEs operating in the property maintenance sector a foothold in a highly competitive marketplace. The initiative, founded in 2008 by Growthpoint Properties as part of their CSR, provides entrepreneurs with support through a two-year incubation programme that enables them to develop their enterprises into fully sustainable companies.

“Small businesses create jobs, not big business[es],” says Shawn Theunissen, head of Property Point and of CSR at Growthpoint Properties. “Property Point’s goals go beyond growing small businesses to also creating an environment that provides more opportunities for small business[es].”

This is achieved through a two-pronged approach: Firstly, an incubation programme selects SMMEs with growth potential, then it cultivates the growth sustainably. This is done through empowering the entrepreneur and her business with skills training, mentorship, coaching and integration into diverse supply chains. Secondly, To The Point sessions (monthly information sharing workshops for interested SMMEs in the local community) host industry experts who share insights on how the entrepreneurs can implement best practice in all areas of their businesses.

Over the past five years, Property Point has incubated 114 businesses, of which 85% are succesful.

“Working with small businesses can be a high risk,” adds Theunissen. “If a business is small and black-owned, the perception of risk can be even higher. Our programme aims to minimise the risk of working with small businesses, but also the perception of that risk. We do this by help to build up the responsibility and reputation of the SMME.

“We help to showcase their capability to deliver, and assist with financial acumen and building key connections with influencers in the supply chain. We are working to break down the mental barriers that exist around B-BBEE [Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment].”

The programme has correspondingly ensured that Growthpoint Properties diversifies its supply chain while simultaneously increasing its B-BBEE compliance — which is critical, given the requirements of the new B-BBEE codes. “The ongoing relationship between SMME suppliers and Growthpoint’s procurers has additionally increased levels of service and improved delivery,” he adds.

“By using one’s enterprise development initiative as a bridge to initiate and then facilitate a positive and mutually-beneficial relationship between procurement and SMMEs, one can ensure that ‘opportunities’ are in fact meaningful and can be accessed by small businesses. This, in turn, will ensure that your organisation moves beyond a tick-box approach to compliance and transformation,” says Theunissen.

“Property Point is helping me to put proper systems and processes in place in my business,” says Happy Visser of EF Security. “That means we can focus on keeping people safe.”

“I recommend the Property Point programme as it helped us to refine our ideas and prevent mistakes being made, while guiding us to think strategically and outside the box,” say Linah Mogale, owner of the 100% black woman youth owned and managed Kopano Ke Lesedi Construction & Projects. Additionally she says Property Point helps her manage her company strategically and plan for future growth.

To date, the programme has been instrumental in creating 1 327 jobs and unlocking procurement opportunities within the general property sector to the value of over R555-million (figures as at end of July 2016).

In 2015 Property Point embarked on an industry partnership with Attacq, a listed property fund that does both property investments and development. Though Growthpoint and Attacq are competitors, they have been able to collaborate through Property Point to support small businesses in South Africa.

Theunissen hopes for more such partnerships in order to facilitate the growth and consequent success of Property Point.