The Simanye Group is on a mission to help South Africa, and the African continent as a whole, find sustainable solutions to positive transformation and to support new economic development and growth in the communities that most need it to grow and thrive.
LoA was keen to know more about this company looking to make a real difference in empowering a new generation of business enterprise in South Africa and in Africa, and spoke to Alana Bond, the founder of The Simanye Group to find out more….
"We are really good proof that there is not one way to be an entrepreneur and that often adaptability, flexibility, and determination are more important than anything else."
What does your company do?
Simanye Group is a cluster of entities dedicated to helping businesses, communities and the public sector find effective and sustainable solutions for transformation and economic development in South Africa, Africa and beyond. Although we began as a B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) consulting firm in South Africa, we continue to grow new arms of the company to ensure we can offer holistic services to our clients in a way that helps South African communities grow and thrive.
For instance, one of our first additions beyond just offering B-BBEE services was the set-up of a Trust that helps research, develop and fund innovative Social Enterprise projects that might otherwise be ignored due to the high element of risk in venturing into new and untested sectors. Some of the projects that we have carried out in the Trust so far include technology based urban farming, new emerging farming models, holistic community development using asset-based approaches, micro-finance and micro-franchising.
Another issue we are tackling under Simanye is the youth skills gap, and we have just launched Simanye Back Office Solutions. Here we take learners, sponsored by various businesses, and teach them employable skills while simultaneously offering outsourcing services to companies. Businesses will be able to use SBO to gain points on their B-BBEE scorecards under the new skills development criteria, and we’ll be helping youth gain useful office skills and real work experience that will make them employable beyond the programme once they’ve completed their learnerships.
What inspired you to start your company?
Although B-BBEE can be quite an emotive topic in South Africa, especially in the business sector, we truly believe that B-BBEE can be an instrument for meaningful change and shouldn’t be treated as a set of boxes to check. We wanted to use the system to empower disenfranchised individuals and groups, and ensure that the money spent by companies actually went to those who needed it the most, funding projects that were sustainable and had the highest impact for the community.
"We are a group of highly motivated and passionate individuals who believe that real change is possible and that we need innovative and intelligent solutions to ensuring sustainable impact occurs."
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We pride ourselves on coming from a strong business and management consulting mindset and understand the real constraints, as well as opportunities, to be found within BEE for companies of all sizes. We maximise a client’s BEE score by focusing on realistic and strategic BEE planning and implementation, whilst also offering in-house solutions (such as our own Trust, and our Back Office Solutions) to help a client place their BEE spend for maximum points and impact.
Tell us a little about your team
We are a group of highly motivated and passionate individuals who believe that real change is possible and that we need innovative and intelligent solutions to ensuring sustainable impact occurs.
Alana Bond was previously a founding member and eventually Managing Director of Bravura Consulting, a strategic BEE consultancy which started in 2006. At the beginning of 2012, she bought the business from Bravura, moulded it into Simanye and developed and implemented her vision of a business-linked not-for-profit arm to support innovative approaches to impact and change, fulfilling her dream of becoming a social entrepreneur. Alana has over a decade of business strategy consulting experience, is a subject matter expert on B-BBEE, transformation and economic development, and has extensive experience in these areas as well as in local content, job creation, local procurement, and economic and enterprise development.
Lana Lovasic is the Managing Director of Simanye’s social business, SEED, as well as an Economic Development Specialist for the consulting business. She joined the business founder, Alana Bond, in 2011, while the business was still part of Bravura, and helped develop and manage the economic and community development consultancy prior to founding and heading up SEED in order to act on her real passion – researching, designing, and implementing innovative social business models.
While at Simanye, Lana has taken the lead on developing Simanye’s procurement and supplier development offering, including local content strategy work. She has also helped conduct numerous economic and community development research and feasibility studies and has developed comprehensive economic development plans. This includes work with logical frameworks and measurement and evaluation tools.
The rest of our team consists of consultants, project managers, analysts, interns and administrative staff all coming from a variety of backgrounds in business, finance, accounting, HR, economic development, digital media, and so forth. Their commitment to excellence and their passion for change being the tie that binds them together.
"The most important qualities for entrepreneurs are persistence and having a good network of people in similar situations who can brainstorm ideas and troubleshoot problems with you."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
What’s unique about our working relationship as two entrepreneurs running one business, is that we truly do compliment each other, even though we are both A-type personalities. We are also each slightly different types of entrepreneurs which we think makes our business stronger, as does the continual challenging and testing of each others’ ideas. We are really good proof that there is not one way to be an entrepreneur and that often adaptability, flexibility, and determination are more important than anything else. One of us comes from a more business background and the other from science, but there is not a strong history of entrepreneurship in our families per se, although it definitely came easier to one of us!
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We really are keen to continue to grow our business and to further expand our ability to invest in innovative social enterprises.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The ability to make our vision come to life and the chance to work with many other passionate people with similar mindsets.
#EntrepreneurAdvice "It is always good to be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses and to be proactive in managing these."
- Alana Bond @simanyeSA
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Failures are to be learned from and not feared. The most important qualities for entrepreneurs are persistence and having a good network of people in similar situations who can brainstorm ideas and troubleshoot problems with you. Also, it is good to plan fully and understand all areas of your business – if financial management is your weakness for example, make sure you have someone in your business who does this well, or else make sure that you learn enough about this area to be able to at least understand what you need to manage your business. It is always good to be honest about your own strengths and weaknesses and to be proactive in managing these.
Contact or follow Alana and Simanye
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those women entrepreneurs who have a real vision of making an impact in Africa, in whatever field they are in. For Alana Bond, she chased her dream of becoming not just a successful business woman, providing specialist advice and sustainable solutions for transformation and economic development in South Africa, Africa and beyond; but she also implemented that vision of supporting real change on the continent through high impact approaches and solutions, becoming a social entrepreneur in the process. By setting up a Trust that helps to research, develop and fund innovative Social Enterprise projects that might otherwise be ignored, she is providing tangible opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs to realise their own potential and contribute to the economic success of the continent. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa