SUPPLY WORX | Bosch Stemele
by Andrew Ngozo
Nurturing Tomorrow's Big Business
In recognising that emerging enterprises and small businesses are the engines of a growing economy, Bosch Holdings’ knowledge academy, Bosch Ulwazi, has partnered with emerging enterprises to form a supplier chain to turn today’s small businesses into the big businesses of tomorrow that will sustain a growing economy such as that of South Africa. Fresh at the helm, Danai Magugumela, Managing Director of Bosch Stemele, has her eyes firmly set on achieving this and other goals.
Bosch Ulwazi was not always the enterprise development champion that it is today. Magugumela explains how it all started: “Bosch Ulwazi was created by the parent company, Bosch Holdings, with the aim of training candidate engineers for professional registration. However, over the years we diversified and ventured out of the business to introduce enterprise development in the supply chain.” Most recently, she continues, Bosch Ulwazi has taken that expertise and model to develop enterprises and render services on behalf of large corporate clients and state-owned enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet. While graduate
development continues, there is also the added emphasis on mentoring and upskilling emerging enterprises by offering them the technical expertise they may require. Magugumela indicates that this may vary from business management to strategy or literacy, or even to referrals for mentoring by experts in any of the Bosch Holdings companies.
Empowerment through Knowledge
Magugumela believes that a firm’s competitive advantage is born out of a combination of expertise, high-quality service, integrity, and exemplary corporate citizenship in an era in which corporates generally have a ‘tick-box’ approach to compliance imperatives. “It is distinctive that we have an in-house knowledge partner that allows Bosch Stemele to offer a tangible and genuine approach to enterprise development. This is an approach that goes further than mere cheque-signing,” she shares. ‘Ulwazi’ is IsiZulu for ‘knowledge or wisdom’. Thus, elaborates Magugumela, the company’s cornerstone is the empowerment of people by imparting knowledge. Bosch Ulwazi does this through learnerships, engineer development, enterprise development and socioeconomic development.
Bosch Ulwazi is more than a company with a strong emphasis on grooming up-and-coming enterprises, for it also provides clients with enterprise development services on a chargeable basis. These services include discovering emerging enterprises, contracting with them, completing a needs analysis, developing solutions, and monitoring progress with regard to these enterprises’ sustainable delivery on their financial and business goals. She explains that Bosch Stemele, in its enterprise development endeavours, is to a very large extent guided by legislation that enables growth of the economy. “However, what has become central to our enterprise development philosophy lately is that we are paying it forward in the companies within our own sector. We aim to sustain the pipeline of well-equipped and experienced suppliers in our own supplier chain,” says Magugumela.
Enterprise Development at Work
It’s a win-win situation for Bosch Ulwazi’s partners in enterprise development. According to Magugumela, their programme success is reflected in four distinct areas. “Our enterprise development partners realise increased turnover and an increase in profits. They can also employ more people as a result of the new opportunities available. Lastly, any particular enterprise is able to improve its efficiency and thereby operate effectively,” she says. There are many organisations that bear testimony to this, elaborates Magugumela. Jika Corrosion and Sandblasting, run by semiliterate Moses Jika, has grown its employee count from just four to 28 in two years, while turnover has tripled! Jika and his staff were offered literacy and numeracy classes on alternate Saturdays.
When Mbumba Projects became part of the Bosch Ulwazi programme, it was showing a loss of approximately R600 000 a year. This changed when it started mentoring in terms of the programme. As a result, the company has achieved a projected turnover of about R3-million annually in just two years – and a 30% profit margin. “Female-owned Abangani Projects is in the plumbing industry and its turnover has gone from just R1-million to R3-million in two years. On the other hand, the owner of Siyazenzela Trailers quit his regular job to join our enterprise development programme. He started his own business and, one year later, he was making R360 000. With our continued support, the company now has a projected turnover of the order of R2.5-million.”
There is one particularly exciting project that Magugumela is passionate about. She says that this was a project that was undertaken as part of Transnet’s project to reduce downtime and time wastage for a company based in Port St Johns. Its female owner used to fetch water twice daily from a nearby source using plastic containers. This water was required on-site for cement-mixing. However, three hours of her time were used in fetching water every day. “We got Siyazenzela Trailers to pitch in with their accumulated expertise and it designed a specialised trailer with a 1 000-litre capacity water container and pump. Consequently, the owner now takes a mere 10 minutes to provide the much-needed water on-site for mixing cement. Just imagine the increased efficiency and profitability of the enterprise after this,” she states.
Bosch Holdings is by no means resting on its laurels as a result of the success of Bosch Ulwazi, and Magugumela indicates that there are busy times ahead. “We have a working model that has been refined over the years based on the lessons learnt. We have streamlined our processes such that we have the right firms to deliver on a job for any client, regardless of size. As pivotal as a tax consultant can be to a company, Bosch Ulwazi can be that for clients,” concludes Magugumela.
A Rich Ethic
Bosch Stemele is a leading, multidisciplinary infrastructure engineering company providing value-added packaged solutions for the built environment. A balanced mix of engineering skills and experience, advanced technology and an understanding of social issues mean that the company is well placed to meet the challenges of infrastructure delivery.
Services are provided through focused, specialised business units and are packaged to meet client requirements.