Towards Uhuru has a depth of experience in playing various roles in nurturing inclusive economies: from enterprise and sector development, supply chain diversification, economic research and strategy development and in actual entrepreneurship as entrepreneur. Many of these activities have been formulated and implemented in the tourism and the design economies, however, there are assignments undertaken that were across a number of sectors.
In the first phase, from January to September 2011, Towards Uhuru conducted the investigation phase of extensive stakeholder consultation in the development of a proposition to the Provincial Government, Minister of Economic Development and the Premier.
The Western Cape economy has not been operating at full throttle over the past seventeen years since 1994 and even before then. The Provincial Government has embarked on a number of studies with recommended interventions to accelerate the tempo of the economy in order to hike the regional GDP and the propensity to create jobs.
However, not all these studies were adopted by Provincial Cabinet, let alone were the proposed interventions implemented. In 2010, an announcement was made that an Economic Development Agency (EDA) for the province would be set up, which would amalgamate all the existing economic agencies in order to consolidate and bolster provincial government’s effort with regard to an underwhelming economy.
The team appointed to investigate the ideal roles and functions of the proposed agency is proposing an alternative to the mega-agency was Andrew Boraine (Cape Town Partnership), Yumnaa Firfirey (Towards Uhuru) and Greg Clark (international thought leader on economic strategy). We recommended that the new EDA does not consolidate all the existing agencies, but rather plays a better role of co-ordinating existing successful agencies and building the depth of leadership and literacy in the economy to effect real change.
This recommendation was arrived at after extensive stakeholder consultation on the matter. Out of this process, the Economic Development Partnership (EDP) was born.
Once this proposal was accepted, the South African partners of this team also utilised these engagements with partners and qualitative research as well as an analysis of research already conducted to formulate the economic development strategy for the Western Cape, called One Cape 2040.
September 2011 to April 2012
The establishment phase of the institution, setting up of a NPC (not for profit company with members), establishment of a steering committee, co-ordination of a technical task team that met weekly to ensure that many of the key economic development role players in the Western Cape were on board and involved in the EDP’s establishment.
April to December 2012
The Launch and Implementation Phase during which the Board was recruited, selected and appointed as well as the first staff members of the EDP. Besides this, key catalytic programmes were conceptualised and implemented, such as local partnerships in the Southern Cape and West Coast for example and FARE, a partnership to mediate the farmer and farm worker disputes.
January 2013 to April 2014
During this phase, Yumnaa Firfirey functioned largely as Chief Operations Officer, coordinating everything from Staff Management and Recruitment, Financial Management, Office Relocation as well Strategy and Programme Co-ordinator, with all staff reporting to her and being performance evaluated by her. She also facilitated the strategic planning processes.
May 2014 to January 2015
Under the board’s instruction, the organisation was asked to formalise the organisational structure as opposed to retaining an agile form, as initially proposed. This meant that an organogram was developed comprising of permanent staff. This concluded Towards Uhuru’s relationship with the EDP at the end of 2014. Before that point, Towards Uhuru managed specific programmes – such as the partnership with the City of Cape Town, the South Cape Partnership and Improving the Efficiency of Economic Development within Local Government – while a full-time COO was appointed.
The developmental programmes conceptualised and managed ranged from Tourism Awareness and Beginners’ Sessions, an Intermediate Training Programme, an Advanced Training Programme, a Tourism Mentorship Programme, the Fast Track Programme, business presentation skills courses, personal development programmes, various market access programmes with complementary training, and a monitoring and evaluation programme to continuously improve our level of success
We also established and supported an integrated network in place of approximately 30 tourism help desks (THDs) spread out in each region of the Western Cape. These individuals were extensively trained to assist tourism entrepreneurs and I interacted with them regularly, through THD Forum Meetings and a THD Newsletter.
We developed a communication strategy in order to increase awareness, consolidate all efforts, minimise duplication and gaps in service delivery and optimally encourage entrepreneurship growth. These efforts were not only limited to one province. The national department rolled out a number of programmes, developed by our Tourism Business Forum (TBF), to the other provinces. The province of KwaZulu Natal and Northern Cape had also established a TBF and implemented a Tourism Mentorship Programme, with our support. Furthermore, the National Government of Namibia was also very keen to implement our entire Tiered Support Strategy and Tourism Business Forum concept and held various discussions with us in South Africa as well as in Windhoek to discuss key aspects of implementation.
As part of this role, a thorough monitoring and evaluation programme was implemented to assess the actual growth and propensity-to-employ of the entrepreneurs assisted. This was conducted on an annual basis to tweak and refine the model and programmes.
Furthermore, in the director’s seat of the task of tourism sector development, the following tourism growth areas were guided and supported:
Tourism Human Resource Development
Tourism Planning through Partnerships
Cape Town Routes Unlimited effectiveness and compliance with their service level agreement
Facilitation of the Tourism Sub Stream for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
While the major South African retailers are thriving, they operate in a country with severe income disparities, reflected in a Gini-coefficient of 0.679 (Presidency, 2009). An additional economic onslaught has been the recent, destructive global economic crisis, further slowing economic growth and inducing massive job losses. One of the main mechanisms earmarked to create jobs (and spike economic growth) is the development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). SMMEs have been identified as engine rooms of job creation, since the propensity of small businesses to grow and hire more staff is proportionally greater than that of large companies. This retailer’s response to this need from the South African society has been their Small Business Initiative (SBI) which aims to increase the number of small, successful, emerging suppliers to PnP in the hope of both diversifying their product offering as well as complying meaningfully and strategically with the BEE Scorecard. The SBI also offers a way of responding to a small, but growing consumer market segment, gaining a foothold globally: socially responsible consumers. These customers challenge business to be more responsive to the needs of the society in which it finds itself and in which it currently thrives. PnP’s ethos – ‘doing good is good business’ – underpins this response on the level of good corporate citizenship, BEE compliance, product diversification as well as catering to new promising markets.
Using this information, SWOT analyses were performed for each of these countries to assess their clearly-defined investment viabilities. Based on these analyses, recommendations were offered in terms phased investment periods, potential partnerships to be pursued and engineering education programmes to be developed
Determined to not just be an advocate for an inclusive economy, inclusive business and responsible corporate citizenship, Yumnaa Firfirey embarked on a journey to explore ethical business as a social entrepreneur herself and hopefully inspire other entrepreneurs and businesses to pursue ethical and inclusive businesses. This is a quest to demonstrate that it is possible to be very successful and profitable, while also having a powerful impact on society. Hence the development of the fashion brand, Bodhisattva, poised to change the way we think about fashion. www.ethicalfashion.co.za Since its inception in June 2013 and launch in February 2014, Bodhisattva has carved a strategic niche in the clothing and textile sector, with luxury, ethical local production and the process is underway to establish an IDC-supported cluster to assist other like-minded designers to do the same. During this time, Yumnaa has managed to take this label from a fledgling brand to a cash flow neutral business that is export-ready and experimenting with European trade relations, particularly with Switzerland and Germany. This task extends well beyond design, which is only one element of the process: it also entails the management of the financial, marketing, logistics, design, production, procurement and sales distribution areas.
A unique experience bringing young people from all parts of the world together to South Africa where they interact with each other in sport, drama, music, art & crafts, and many other activities. As one of the founding trustees of Camp iAfrika and the managing trustee, Yumnaa Firfirey helped build the organisation from one office in South Africa, undertaking only local projects, to a fully operational international organisation over a period of 18 months, with international exposure and representatives in various countries.