Hi there readers of this column, as it turns out I have an opportunity to share something that is very important to me.
Attending the recent SATSA conference at the Fancourt, I listened to a panel discussion on transformation and it occurred to me that we really don't get it in our industry. For those that were not there, in essence there were amongst others, two interesting black entrepreneurs of two diversified businesses, effectively advertising the use of their businesses to the attendees in a passionate, committed and partially demanding fashion... but is that really transformation?
I think that we are mixing up three core issues which all somehow form part of transformation but have different levels of impact and effectiveness.
Firstly: The above is enterprise development which as part of a supplier strategy clearly has merit, a role to play in transformation and must form part of everybody's thought process. It has unfortunately really not been able to transform our industry. It has with very few exceptions been about some black owned niche company largely in township and community based travel chasing survival out there.
Secondly: Of course some of the larger players are now in their majority black owned and hence fulfill another aspect of transformation - critical to the sustainability of our industry but certainly at the coal face such as at this conference, not very visible and considering 20 years of democracy optically, obviously not really successful.
So what in my view will achieve real transformation?
Real, sustainable and meaningful transformation has to be grassroots driven, employment equity focused, learner-ships and mentorships underpinned and last but not least has to have a component of career fast tracking to accelerate the demographics of the employees. And that's where the challenges start, educational levels are not exactly improving, tertiary education in our industry does not really exist, the learner-ship program is a farce and under-financed and to make matters worse we are dealing with a generation, regardless of colour, that has no patience to hang around and to build a career. However whilst the macro environment seems sporty to get employment equity driven transformation right, it's the only way.... and as a by-product we will nurture a future generation of entrepreneurs and owners. There are no shortcuts and nothing replaces time in the saddle, I wish there was because I would be much younger today.