Initiative launched for corporates to 'adopt' riot-affected SMMEs

23rd July 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

Women-owned local technology company One Linkage has launched the #RiseUpSA Campaign, which aims to enable corporates to connect with and "adopt" small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) that need support following last week's riots and looting.

Corporate South Africa is invited to help SMMEs affected by the riots to rebuild and restart their businesses, says One Linkage CEO and co-founder Hepsy Mkhungo.

The One Linkage platform is an integrated, cloud-based digital tool that facilitates seamless collaboration and transparency between stakeholders to achieve supplier diversity and small business development.

Mkhungo explains that One Linkage is opening the onboarding component of its platform to the public at no cost to corporates and SMMEs for the campaign.

“To participate in the campaign, SMMEs can register and upload required compliance documents, proof of being an existing business and evidence of how they have been affected by the recent unrest. These documents will be used to vet and authenticate the claim,” she says.

The platform will be open to both formal and informal businesses.

“Once a complete profile has been submitted, a high-level vetting processes will be conducted by our sister company Zevoli, at no cost to any party, to minimise the exposure of corporates to unscrupulous claims. The SMMEs will then be categorised by industry, size, location and number of employees to provide useful data for a corporate match,” she says.

Registration is open to all small businesses with revenue of less than R50-million a year.  Although broad-based black economic empowerment compliance will be requested, it is for the purposes of recording, not a prerequisite for participation.

“Similarly, corporates are requested to register their interest to support SMMEs on the One Linkage platform. They will need to provide general corporate information, contact details and indicate the type of support they would prefer to offer,” says Mkhungo.

When a match is made, a direct relationship is established between the corporate and the SMME. Corporates are free to select an SMME according to their preferred criteria.

Some might select only businesses in their value chain, while others might prioritise a small business based on the number of employees, its location or how it has been affected.

“The platform provides corporates with suggested ideas for support, based on the individual requirements per SMME. These could include infrastructure support, funding, mentorship or even psychological support.

“However, any additional support not specified can be offered by the corporate. Ideally, the participating corporate should take the SMME under their wing and provide end-to-end support to ensure the company can get up and running again,” says Mkhungo.

One of the benefits for corporates is the support they lend can be aligned to either corporate social responsibility initiatives or enterprise and supplier development initiatives. The platform will simply provide another means to source programme participants.

“The broader benefit is helping the economy to recover from the setbacks caused by the unrest. The sustainability of any big business depends on its value chain. Unfortunately, the unrest has destabilised most value chains in South Africa and this initiative is aimed to rebuild the industry.”

Some large corporate companies, such as petrochemicals multinational Sasol, have already committed to the cause.

“The recent civil unrest coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been catastrophic for many South African businesses. As a corporate rooted in our South African heritage, we must remain agile in our response to the needs of our SMMEs to ensure they remain sustainable,” says Sasol chief procurement officer Lebelo Lukhele.

“We are proud to partner with One Linkage as part of the #RiseUpSA campaign in responding to the immediate needs of small businesses. This partnership allows us to demonstrate the ‘spirit of ubuntu’ along with the power of digital platforms and innovation in the face of adversity.

“The initiative is designed to make it easy for corporates to lend support to affected SMMEs. As a small tech start-up, we know the devastating impact any disruption can have on small businesses. We are leveraging our cloud-based platform, designed to connect business opportunities, and make it easy for SMMEs and corporates to work together,” Mkhungo says.

Registration will be open from July 21 to September 23. Corporates and SMMEs can register on One Linkage's website.