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MBE - An economic empowerment notion that might actually work

24 May 2012, 13:28

When BEE first came into being, most of us thought it was probably a reasonably good idea. After all, fair is fair, the apartheid government did not allow economic development on a level playing field.

The trouble is, as has been noted by many political analysts and economic commentators (including Moeletsi Mbeki), BEE does not work.

There's a simple reason for that too - and it's not the idea itself that's flawed - it's in the application.

BEE has become synonymous with cronyism and corruption, and all it's really done is circulate money and tenders among the few elite, connected people all the time.

I say, do away with BEE altogether, and introduce a new system: MBE, or Means Based Economic empowerment.

Here's the notion.

When you visit a government clinic, apply for a social grant or even a state pension, you are required to submit to a means test, where your earnings and assets play a role in the amount of assistance the state is willing to give you.

Apply the same thing to economic activity, like tendering.

Make sure that tenderers, ALL tenderers undergo means testing, and weight the results of the tenders according to those companies and individuals that are least financially established.

By doing this, tenders could be awarded to individuals and businesses who are starting out, and who are struggling to compete with the BEE fatcats who are already rolling in money.

Before you say that's racist, tell me how?

Would a system like this not benefit ALL emerging SA companies and entrepreneurs, and is that not sort of what we need? Not to mention that it would help them to compete against existing BEE powerhouses, who are monopolising opportunity.

Sounds like a plan to me!

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