The Hope Factory helps entrepreneurs keep pace with big company expectations


Providing access to new markets is a key offering of The Hope Factory’s Enterprise and Supplier Development programme. Numerous companies from corporate South Africa invest in The Hope Factory and this in turn allows us to be in the unique position of being able to facilitate the introduction of our entrepreneurs (as small and medium enterprises (SMEs and potential suppliers) to these corporate investors.

More than any one thing, coming across as unprofessional, primarily through poor written and verbal communication skills – will put a very quick end to any potential supplier opportunities within corporate SA. In addition, potential suppliers need to consider management competency, work ethic and accountability. Sadly however, these expectations are rarely (if ever) clearly communicated to hopeful SMEs.

Corporate expectations

Very often the expectations held by corporate SA and SMEs, are quite different. For example one of our entrepreneurs and a key investor became embroiled in a heated debate regarding what constitutes a quality product and the situation had to be closely managed and mediated by the entrepreneur’s mentor. In the end, the client was satisfied with the supplied product, but this would not have been the case were it simply left up to the entrepreneur alone. Having this impartial broker in the form of a mentor who understands both the world of corporate SA and that of our SMEs is invaluable.

Current South African free market forces, in many respects, remain in need of external corrective interventions. B-BBEE is a good example of an attempt to right some of the inequalities and a way to open up new markets for SMEs. Of course B-BBEE is no silver bullet to all our business inequality woes and SMEs need to continue to work hard to achieve their own business success.

The need to eliminate any entitlement-based behaviour is critical for sustained business success in South Africa. This is addressed by The Hope Factory through our access to markets application form – currently requiring each entrepreneur to provide three solid customer references as part of the process. Included in this process too, is the need for the entrepreneur’s performance scorecard to fully reflect affective scores for company finances and mentorship. This helps to verify the ability of the entrepreneur to deliver as expected, while seeking to promote businesses that have earned the right to provide their services to The Hope Factory investors.

There is a future ahead of us where SME’s will be doing increasing business with Corporate South Africa. Continued understanding and keeping pace with big company expectations will no doubt result in reaping the rewards of working together.


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