Betsy Ings, the founder and MD of Tradelane Training & Project Management and Siyaloba Training Academy, speaks exclusively to u|Chief.
How important are NGOs in South Africa?
NGOs are imperative in the new economic challenges that the world faces.
Agriculture’s biggest challenge is to feed 9-billion people globally by 2050. Despite recent progress, close to 800 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment. These scary facts bring to mind the high unemployment rate of women and youth in rural South Africa. The rising need for food security, economic diversification and greening of the economy offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs to find a solution.
Social enterprises present a perfect vehicle to address the above solution. SA’s economic and social landscape provides us with the following thought-provoking statistics:
- Women reinvest up to 90% of their income in their families and communities.
- 72% of women in villages and towns have limited/no access to entrepreneurial services, credit and markets.
- 25% black women, compared to 19% black men, have difficulty in using technology associated with banking products/services.
- 43% of South Africans live on less than $2 per day.
- Women are disadvantaged by their lower level of financial literacy and awareness.
- SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) account for 56% of private sector employment.
- The failure rate of SMEs in South Africa is among the highest in the world at 75%.
The conclusion of the above statistics is that women and youth in rural SA face the following barriers – access to business opportunities and markets, access to business skills training, access to financial services and peer networks. What a wonderful platform for us to engage as social entrepreneurs and make the difference!
“The rising need of food security, economic diversification and greening of the economy offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs to find a solution.” – Betsy Ings
How do NGOs differ in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world?
There is little difference in NGOs across the world. The greatest challenge most NGOs face globally is sustainability – we all need to rethink our financial business model.
NGOs have to become social enterprises that create new business models to meet the needs of the marginalised more effectively and if not profitable, at least sustainably. They have to focus on lower cost structures, more efficient delivery and often combining market and non-market approaches through a blended revenue model.
“NGOs have to become social enterprises that create new business models to meet the needs of the marginalised more effectively and if not profitably, at least sustainably.” – Betsy Ings
How can an individual or corporate evaluate an NGO in terms of being a good fit for them?
We all have our opinions about Generation X, but they have a new, mature mindset and are very vocal about their spending and that they work to live. It is now quite an accepted view that people actually have a life other than that which they live in the workplace. Your employees have a view engage them on their concerns and passions.
Customers want to know where you source your product from, and do you pay a livable wage? All very uncomfortable questions.
I am pleased that Ed Richardson (the journalist of the day with Siyaloba Fishing) suggested that, instead of giving R50 000 to a random high school that they “hoped” had fishers’ children, Mr Stanley should rather invest the money with “an idea” that is meant to uplift the very fishers he wishes to benefit.
The long and the short of it is that, really, a good fit happens when you and your customers care about the same thing, your “charity/investment” has to speak to you and your business and align to your values.
“A good fit happens when you and your customers care about the same thing, your ‘charity/investment’ has to speak to you and your business and align to your values.” – Betsy Ings
What help from the public or from investors, donors or philanthropists would be a great assistance to your NGO?
Kind offers of financial support, donations of time, expertise or other services are always warmly appreciated. Siyaloba has the skills and passion to deliver real results on any training investment that an organisation wishes to make towards up-skilling coastal communities.
There are great incentives in place for corporate companies wishing to be part of skills and enterprise development solutions to our country’s unemployment crisis.
Are there any specific financial or logistical benefits for such donors?
Siyaloba collaborates proudly with enterprises in the private and public sector who seek effective and sustainable solutions for transformation and economic development. By supporting the unemployed learners and promising entrepreneurs on its programmes, Siyaloba ensures that investors also benefit by achieving valuable Skills Development and Socio-Economic Development points in terms of the amended BBBEE scorecard.
“Instead of giving R50 000 to a random high school, rather invest the money with ‘an idea’ that is meant to uplift the very people you wish to benefit.” – Betsy Ings
Can you share any good news stories from other NGOs you have worked with or experienced?
The Ray Mhlaba Centre, headed by Ms Caroline Ferreira does excellent work. At the Ray Mhlaba Skills Training Centre, an extension program of the E.P. Child & Youth Care Centre, they offer training to socially & displaced youth.
We work with numerous community partners and we support them financially and with service offerings. Our current beneficiary partners are the South African Sea Cadets and the Mayibuye Ndlovu Trust that was established in 1993 as a forum to plan and implement conservation-based community development projects in eight communities that surround the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP); Colchester, Paterson, Enon, Bersheba, Moses Mabida, Joe Slovo, Valencia and Nomathamsaqa.
“The world of an NGO is bumpy and less than 90% of NGOs in South Africa are compliant.” – Betsy Ings
What don’t people know or understand about the world of NGOs and the work that they do that you would like to share with readers?
The world of an NGO is bumpy and less than 90% of NGOs in South Africa are compliant.
Many of our stakeholders don’t understand that we serve two equally important clients. The person (beneficiary) who is receiving the training, and the funder who is paying for the training. Both parties are equally important to us and our beneficiary’s dignity and training needs can never be compromised even against funder requirements.
Perceptions are key and a lot of people are less sure of the quality of products and services that are produced by an NGO as an income source to support their mission. There is a stigma attached and possibly an idea that you won’t get the same quality as in the open market. This is completely untrue as NGOs are more driven to deliver and possibly operate under exceptional corporate governance and strict legislation.
At Siyaloba we strive to shift from volunteers to very qualified people bringing business principles and standards to social problems.
“NGOs are more driven to deliver and possibly operate under exceptional corporate governance and strict legislation.” – Betsy Ings
More on Betsy Ings and Siyaloba Training Academy