Community of Experts

The Future is here: Embrace the Transformative Power of the 4th Industrial Revolution

The Future is here: Embrace the Transformative Power of the 4th Industrial Revolution

Let’s be honest, technological advancements are reshaping our lives exponentially; with operating system software updates being a normal part of our daily routine. Naturally, we have to mutate our skills and abilities to keep up with the ever changing digital landscape and welcome the innovative solutions at the cutting-edge of technology.

iFundi will soon be hosting the first Digital Master Skills Masterclass Programme, designed and curated with the modern learner in mind. If empowering yourself with the digital tools to remain in the lead in your industry or career is something on your agenda, a comprehensive, seven programme Masterclass by iFundi is right up your ally.

The smartest way to tackle the nuances of the new age of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technology in business or in the workplace is to educate yourself. By being an active user of these new technological advancements and gaining insights from industry experts, one gains invaluable expertise and learnings that can only make you a better performer in your field.

A lack of understanding of the future of the Robotics Industry for example, has the potential to crumble brands that grew on the backbone of their blue collar workforce. Those that fail to welcome it efficiently, run the risk of falling behind competitors who leverage automation to gain a competitive edge.

With brands and businesses taking their services into the “Metaverse” and beyond, equipping yourself and your business with the tools to comprehensively understand cyber threats and data breaches helps protect one’s digital footprint and cyber identity. We also want our clients to know that their confidential information is safe at all times. It is imperative to learn how the transformative power of an impactful and well protected internet presence, can yield mutual business connections; a community of loyal supports, and financial gains. Embracing Robotics as the face of the 4th Industrial Revolution empowers you to optimize processes and reduce costs, thus enhancing operational efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence can be used to augment productivity and help one gain a competitive advantage in the job market by automating repetitive tasks and keeping you ahead of schedule with performance trackers and automated reminders; all the little ways tech has helped make us better.  Data analytics can now unravel hidden patterns and trends, helping you anticipate your client or future employer’s pain points and provide potential solutions.

As businesses create a digital presence, the need for protection of digital assets and protection of personal information and confidential data becomes more apparent. There is no better time than the present to invest in understanding these technologies to gain strategic advantage and anticipate you’re the needs of your clients. AI has proven proficient in providing personalized customer experiences, leveraging data analytics to optimize operations and robotics have shown innovative solutions to scalability.

As we said, the future is being shaped by technological advancements. And to keep up with the future is to equip yourself with the knowledge and understanding of these technologies. So we put together the seven key themes that will play key roles in the activation of the 4th Industrial Revolution now, pre-packaged them as 60 minute programmes that can be attended virtually or in-person, and brought it right to you, your future leaders.

We at iFundi invite you to join the Digital Master Skills Masterclass 2023. This exclusive programme offers limited seating and we highly advise you register today, for a secure career tomorrow.

Are you ready?

Experts and Entrepreneurs on Enterprise Supplier Development

Experts and Entrepreneurs on Enterprise Supplier Development

by Alex Kinmont

South Africa’s unemployment crisis is showing no signs of improvement. The unemployment rate was most recently recorded at 29%, the worst it’s been in over a decade. According to the National Development Plan, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises might just be the solution, as globally they tend to employ 60-70% of the population.

South Africa’s SMEs are failing to do this, providing jobs for only 30% of South Africans. Where are we going wrong and how can we fix it? At our September Community of Experts, we discussed the current state of South Africa’s Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises sector and how we can support it.

Workshop speakers were divided into two panels, starting with two seasoned B-BBEE and Enterprise Development specialists, followed by three up and coming entrepreneurs operating township retail, freelancing services and commercial farming enterprises.

Dzivhululwani Mudau and Garry Whitby – both with big four consulting backgrounds – opened the workshop with expert insights into the SMME development and B-BBEE environment.

Mudau is an Enterprise and Supplier Development professional at Accenture with extensive experience in the transformation space. Whitby is a private sector and livelihood development expert with over 40 years of experience in international development, including SME consulting, in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia.

As a PhD scholar researching the effects of B-BBEE on business effectiveness, Mudau provided an overview of the B-BBEE legislative codes around Enterprise Development and emphasised the importance of changing the mindset of companies from a tick-box mentality to a focus on authentically striving for change. He defined Enterprise Development as working with a company or supplier on a one to one basis to improve quality, performance and sustainability. He shared best practices for corporates to consider in developing their enterprise and supplier development policies. These include:

  • Developing policy that outlines the financial and non-financial (including sustainable development) criteria that will be used to evaluate suppliers and the conduct that will be expected from them;
  • Reaching agreement on the governance of Enterprise and Supplier Development  (ensure proper resourcing);
  • Developing a preferential procurement policy that outlines clear objectives and the minimum BBBEE criteria that suppliers must comply with;
  • Developing an Enterprise and Supplier Development strategy and measurable implementation  plan;
  • Setting aside certain commodities for ESD beneficiaries.

Whitby, an independent enterprise development and livelihoods consultant with over 40 years global experience, expanded on his integrated model of required inputs to support enterprise development. These included five fundamental enterprise skills competency pillars; access to key enabling business support and development services; and a stable and conducive political and policy environment.  Whitby, who was one of the pioneers of the Challenge Fund model, noted the importance of involvement of the private sector – especially business associations – in supporting business development financially, through lobbying government and in provision of business development services.

The Entrepreneurs panel opened with Oscar Monama, Chief Operations Officer and Co-Founder of Vuleka, a grassroots economic development initiative. Vuleka is an online platform which facilitates the buying and selling of stock from large corporates and small-scale manufacturers to township-based businesses.

After a decade’s experience in the FMCG market, Monama recognised the enormous potential of the township economy in South Africa. Through Vuleka, he and co-founder, Brian Makwaiba, have found a way to combine tech with grassroots business in a way which is actively building the South African economy. Three years ago they were making their deliveries to their network of township retail outlets with a Mazda 2. Today they have a warehouse with three trucks.

The next entrepreneur to present was Scelo Makhathini, a Chartered Accountant who left a lucrative career in investment banking to follow his passion for entrepreneurship. Makhathini is the Chief Executive Office and co-founder of freelance talent platform, LinkdPro. This online talent matching service was founded based on his experience within the financial services industry, where there was an ongoing need for specific skills sets on a temporary basis. It is also founded on the growing trend towards the gig economy. 

As a beneficiary of a corporate enterprise accelerator programme, Makhathini emphasised the importance of ESD programmes in how they can support entrepreneurs who will in turn provide jobs for our unemployed. LinkdPro now serves blue chip clients locally and globally and is poised for growth and expansion.

Our final speaker and entrepreneur was Sonto Mujakachi from Treasure Trove Farms in North West Province. After following an illustrious international academic and corporate career, Mujakachi decided she wanted to do more for the country and food security became her calling. The name Treasure Trove came through delving into her family’s long tradition as commercial farmers and realising its significance and potential. In the last three years, Treasure Trove farms has become a 7 day operation and is one of the top suppliers of fresh produce to brand name retailers such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite Checkers and Woolworths.

Mujakachi pointed out the difficulties of being an entrepreneur, and explained the risks she took when she used her own cash to finance the start of her business. She shared about a storm that hit her farm in its first year and wiped out all her crops and how this ordeal taught her to be resilient and not give up. Her key pointers to aspiring entrepreneurs are to focus on integrity and quality. Today, Treasure Trove farm is preparing to enter the global export environment.

Enterprise and Supplier Development can have huge impact on the South African economy. Our SMMEs currently form around 98% of enterprises, yet they only employ less than 30% of the population. Globally, SMMEs employ between 60 and 70% of the population, illustrating their enormous potential.

If ESD programmes can build up our SMMEs to meet global standards, such as the examples  of the entrepreneurs profiled, they can have huge impact on the economy. As Mudau and Whitby point out, the focus areas should be on market access and funding and the integration of technology. If corporates focus more on supporting enterprise development initiatives, not only will they meet their B-BBEE requirements but they will be contributing towards building up small enterprises and the economy. With some training and some mentoring, Small, Medium and Mico-sized Enteprises can fulfil their potential and provide jobs to more people.

For a copy of the presentation, click here.

For more information on our New Venture Creation qualification, click here.

Women @ Work

Women @ Work

by Alex Kinmont

On Friday we hosted a panel of phenomenal women to share their stories of succeeding in male-dominated industries. In science, aviation, construction and security, four women gave us advice and messages of motivation for forging your own path.

Tanita Ramburuth-hurt is a Masters student in Astrophysics from Wits University. She is also a first degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean Martial Art. As a young women entering the workspace, Tanita gave valuable insight on what it means to be represented.

Tanita recently attended the Physics Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany, where Nobel prize winners in physics and 600 young scientists meet. She explains how if Einstein were alive she would have told him that he should have credited his wife, Mileva Marić-Einstein, for contributing to the work on relativity.

Most people didn’t even know Mileva’s name.

To emphasise her point, Tanita also asked us, “Did you know that black women were largely responsible for getting Americans into space?”

The young scientist explained a very important point: Men dominate the history books, thanks to our patriarchal culture. Tanita emphasises the difference it would make if more women were credited and noticed.

She explains, “If there are young girls out there who see that they are represented, they will know that they can get to wherever we are and wherever they want to go.”

Poppy Khoza is the Director of Civil Aviation at SACAA, the South African Civil Aviation Authority and has over 15 years of experience in senior management positions, including time at South African Airways and two years as the Chairperson of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Aviation Security Panel, a historical achievement for a black woman. Khoza was named South Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Business & Government in 2012 and again in 2018.

Poppy shared her wisdom gained from working her way to the top of the aviation industry. She, too, commented on the need for encouraging more young girls in her sphere. Boys and girls must be socialised from when they are young to seek power equally. Young girls should be encouraged to want to be a pilot just as much as an air hostess and know that both are within their reach.

Khoza explained how 6 years ago, she was the only female executive in the company. Today, that number has risen to 50%. She worked hard for her CEO position, explaining, “I gave them no reason not to appoint me. It was clear that if I didn’t prove myself, no woman will ever be given this position again.”

Thobekile Ndlovu is the Managing Director of her own highly successful Construction and Design company Thobethulani Trading. Her clients include KZN legislature, Metrorail, the Department of Trade and Investments and PRASA. Thobe is a qualified Interior Designer and Project Manager who is an Executive Board Member of the Master Builders Association.

Having also conquered a traditionally male industry, she shared her insights on how she made it big.

Thobe said, “Your attitude is like your price tag.” The key to finding success lies within us and how we approach challenges. This will shape our experience and our progress.

Her tip for staying relevant in an industry which is not always consistent is to remain relevant by knowing how to communicate; be a good listener and listen to what your clients’ dreams are. This is how you learn to “make the society rely on you.”

Thobe was awarded Best Woman in Construction in 2015 by The Master Builders Association. She concluded, “Write down your vision, and patent it.”

Thando Selanto is a Communications Manager at MeMeZa Community Saftey.

Covering a topic known all too well, Thando struck home by reminding us about the high levels of Gender Based Violence in South Africa. MeMeZa is a security innovation company run by two women: Thuli Mthethwa and Elmarie Pereira.

MeMeZa provides affordable connected community safety technology, aimed at giving women, children and the elderly a voice to call for help in times of distress. MeMeZa won 3 awards in 2018 alone, including the South African Premier Business SMME Award, the People’s Choice Award in the Google Impact Challenge and the SITA Top IOT Award. Some of MeMeZa’s Inventions include a personal keyring with a 140 decibel alarm and lipstick pepper sprays.

Awareness of domestic violence can only go so far. MeMeZa promises to provide women with tangible and immediately effective security products.

Powerful women are defined as women who help other women. Thando and MeMeZa provide a solution to a problem that plagues our country and others. Thobe and Poppy have achieved success where the odds were against them and share their advice on how other women can follow. Tanita emphasises that representation of women in typically male sectors is vital to changing the mindsets of young girls. It is fair to say that all four speakers are changing the game and shattering stereotypes by being women in Science, in Sport, in Aviation, in Construction and in Security. Not only are they brave enough to be in these industries, but they are succeeding, and helping others to follow.

This is how we can move South Africa forward, invest in our business, improve our company’s standing and change lives all at the same time.

Leadership relies on heavily on one’s personal mastery. Our executive leadership development programme supports a focus on values companies intend to cultivate in their people, together with leadership competencies and development opportunities. For more information on our executive leadership development programme, click here.