While Towards Uhuru does not focus on economic research, it does conduct research of a quantitative as well as qualitative nature in order to understand the situation better, develop informed strategies and conceptualise targeted and appropriate responses.
Towards Uhuru conducted baseline economic research for Hout Bay, interviewing 249 business owners, from informal businesses to powerful corporates, in order to identify the fundamental value chains that constitute the local economy. A selection of key variables were studied as part of this research, including business sophistication levels, individual entrepreneurship challenges, business structure, employment, supply chains, willingness and ability to procure locally, market selection and market viability. These variables were used to build a richer understanding of each of the seven value chains identified. This yielded a depth of understanding of the key challenges and opportunities within each of these value chains in order to unlock their full potential.
Towards Uhuru presented the Hout Bay Partnership with these conclusions as well as a full set of recommendations – general recommendations as well as recommendations specific to each value chain, from the most simple to more complex integrated solutions to ensuring a higher degree of inclusion, in these value chains and in the Hout Bay economy in general.
In assisting IEEE with defining their 3-5 year strategy and business/operational plan for Africa, Towards Uhuru developed business cases for each of the five African countries that IEEE had earmarked for investment in engineering education support. To this end, we did a scan of the African investment terrain, followed by a scan of each of these countries’ economic and political dynamics and lastly, situational analyses of their ICT and Energy landscapes, as envisaged focus areas.
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.
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 instead of an EDA being established, that there be an EDP instead, an Economic Development Partnership, which 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. 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.
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.
As part of this role, a thorough monitoring and evaluation programme was implemented to assess the actual growth and employment propensity of the entrepreneurs assisted. This was conducted on an annual basis to tweak and refine the model and programmes.