Developing social enterprises is crucial to accelerate innovation and spur economic growth on the African continent, an executive in the enterprise application software industry has said.
Pfungwa Serima, the Executive Chairman of SAP Africa, said enterprise building was hence an important business focus for SAP, adding that the company was committed to finding innovative ways to solve both social and business issues in Africa.
Serima said SAP Africa believed the private sector played a vital role in creating a level playing field, driving innovation, and building an environment that enhances education and entrepreneurship to foster economic growth and fosters this as part of its investments in Africa.
As part of his company’s commitment, Serima highlighted 99 young leaders recently participated in the SAP Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, an initiative that was rolled out in Africa and India in collaboration with non-profit global social venture fund Acumen.
A significant proportion, 90 percent, of the participating entrepreneurs believed the programme contributed to the growth of their businesses, made significant progress in developing their company’s senior management, and helped drive new innovations.
As a whole, the entrepreneurs improved their leadership skills in a number of areas, ranging from sharpening their pitching skills to potential investors, to taking a more strategic approach to operations to grow their businesses sustainably.
Another successful programme hosted by SAP Africa is the Social Sabbatical. The initiative piloted in 2012 in South Africa and as part of this programme, 12 SAP employees from around the world mentored selected entrepreneurs and shared their specific expertise in areas such as strategy, marketing, information technology, finance and consulting to non-profit organisations, government agencies or educational institutions to help solve pressing business or organisational issues.
“These programs herald a new way of thinking, where we play a direct role in preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs. Our vision is to help the world run better and improve the lives of people in the communities in which we operate. This is our enduring cause, our higher purpose. By transforming the world of business, we are able to accelerate progress on significant causes that touch billions of people,” Serima said.
Serima’s sentiments come on the back of the realisation entrepreneurs are transforming business models and building new, strategic markets in a way, and at a pace, that large corporations and governments often cannot emulate.
These are striving to make their business decisions more sustainable by applying the principle of corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the company, in the wider environment they operate in, and in their relationship with suppliers and customers.
In line with their own economic interests, businesses – small and large, domestic and international – are starting to share responsibility for the ecological and social situation in their immediate environment. Examples include the protection of human rights, drawing up and implementing employment and environmental standards and minimising corruption.
Author: Savious Kwinika