“Supplier Development (SD) is just like Enterprise Development (ED), it’s just that SD allocation has to be up to 2% Nett Profit After Tax as opposed to 1% for ED, and the allocation has to go to an SMME that is already a supplier to you”.

This statement above, which is pedalled by many of us B-BBEE practitioners is the reason why we are not becoming great, this is the reason why despite millions of Rands being spent on the development of SMME’s with very limited benefit realised.

Though the generalisation might be useful in providing a high level of understanding of the difference between ED and SD, it is dangerous as a working definition, and it threatens the realisation of an equitable society as intended. The truth is, as B-BBEE and in particular ESD practitioners we have become inexcusably lazy. We fail to show our clients the deep connection between Supplier Development and the Measured Entities’ bottom-line.

This laziness on the part of practitioners contributes to a corporate culture of nonchalance with regards to institutionalising sustainability in the South African private sector.

At the core of it Enterprise Development must be aimed at driving sustainability through innovation (medium to long term); and Supplier Development must be aimed at cost efficiencies in the supply chain (short to medium term).

In order to craft economically beneficial Enterprise Development interventions, you need a Transformation and Sustainability practitioner with deep knowledge of the sustainability agenda and an array of civil society organisations in their network. The Transformation and Sustainability consultant must ensure alignment between the supported SMME mandate and the measured entities’ Sustainability Goals.

On the other hand a successful Supplier Development initiative must be based on an intimate working relationship between the measured entity and the SMME. The relationship must be based on efficiencies and profitability, and it must be empowered by the appropriate use of technology.

It truly would be great if as an industry we would stop facilitating, “Masterclasses” for the sole purpose of generating attendance registers. It would be great to make your ESD investment a catalyst to institutionalising sustainability.