Collaboration and innovation driving growth

Ethel Nyembe, head of small enterprises at Standard Bank.
Ethel Nyembe, head of small enterprises at Standard Bank.

Cape Town - In tough economic times such as these, it is increasingly important that both big and small businesses become more agile and innovative to remain sustainable and drive South Africa’s economic growth, Standard Bank said at the launch of their new TV series, The Growth Engines.

"Collaboration and innovation across multiple commercial areas is becoming less of a differentiator and more of a ticket to the game," the bank said in a statement.

The new 18-part series which is hosted by well-known business expert Pavlo Phitidis on Business Day TV, started on Tuesday March 3 at 21:30. It aims to highlight the role that partnerships between big business and SMEs play in promoting job creation and economic development.

“As a bank that has supported business in South Africa for more than 150 years, we believe that this programme deserves our backing," said Ethel Nyembe, head of small enterprises at Standard Bank.

"It carries a very important message - with about half of South Africa’s GDP currently produced by small business, and an estimated 70% of private employment provided through firms with fewer than 50 employees, the SME sector is vital to the growth of our economy,” she said. “Equally important is the role of big business in integrating SMEs into their supply chains to ensure the sustainability of this all-important sector.”

Follow on from Think Big

The Growth Engines follows on from Standard Bank’s recently concluded Think Big – Building Business Champions series that focused on taking SMEs that had already achieved some success to the next level. Think Big participants shared their stories and challenges with viewers across South Africa, and were mentored and guided by a panel of reputable business experts who helped grow their businesses.

The Growth Engines takes the discussion a step further. Through the selected media it will reach an estimated 3.8 million South Africans. By sharing the challenges and opportunities they face, and by unpacking their innovative approaches and strategies, the big businesses and their SME suppliers will share the experiences that have helped close the gap between them to their mutual benefit.

Phitidis, with his vast experience in the SME sector, will also delve into the innovative approaches that enabled the small businesses to meet the demands of their significantly larger partners and so spur vital growth in their small enterprises.
Several issues will be explored during the series. These include:

- providing small business with insights on what big business wants and needs;
- enabling big business to call upon innovation in small business suppliers;
- demonstrating the vibrancy that exists between big and small business; and
- inspiring business-centred policy that will generate jobs and innovation that will kick-start the engines of growth to position South Africa as a leader in Africa.

The series will culminate with three of the small businesses being awarded with a Business Acceleration Programme to the value of R300 000 each.

The winning businesses will be selected based on how the following three key pillars of innovation were practically applied within their business partnerships:

- How the small business improved, introduced or amplified the strategic positioning of their big business customer.
- How the small business supplier reduced the cost of service to the big business through innovative sourcing and product design.
- How the small business increased the value of everyday products or services to the big business through an innovative business model.

“To be effective, small business suppliers need to innovate beyond simply supplying products or services,” said Nyembe. “They need to offer sustainable cost, value or strategic benefits to big business. Through sponsoring this new series, we believe that Standard Bank will assist to create a platform that will encourage existing and potential entrepreneurs to become the best they can be.”

“For Business Day [Standard Bank's partner in this project], the initiative will enable us to feature and honour business collaborations that have put innovation to the test, resulting in performance and delivery excellence, and making a positive contribution to South Africa’s advancement,” said Business Day editor Songezo Zibi.

The Growth Engines can be viewed on Business Day TV (DSTV channel 412) on Tuesdays at 21:30.

For more information and to view in-depth articles on the key themes explored on the programme, log on at

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