Making Small Work Big

The challenges and opportunities when working with manufacturing SMEs

A recent working group attended by senior leadership in Automotive, Chemicals, Clothing and Furniture manufacturing noted that there are many, significant challenges when working with SMEs.

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Firstly, lead firms find it difficult to source new SMEs and more importantly, SMEs who are willing to commit to a development programme, compliance steps or relationship building required to realise a business opportunity. Secondly, once onboarded, inadequate capacity, poor compliance, un-competitiveness and limited capability (“the 4Cs”) are hurdles to growth. Yet, the opportunities SMEs present for lead firms are great: from increasing local procurement, identifying new strategic capabilities and more effectively driving transformation. Our recent working group found that all three opportunities were held in high importance by the majority of lead firms.

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B&M Analysts’ Business Accelerator aims to take these challenges head on to ensure the opportunities are realized for both the lead firm and the SME.

The Business Accelerator throws the net wide to find as many SMEs as possible and then applies a strict filter to screen for commitment and the 4Cs. Once this screening and due diligence is conducted, SMEs are introduced to the market in a Dragon Den chaired by senior leadership of the value chain’s lead firms.  Once a market opportunity is confirmed, we upgrade SMEs to meet the standards as set out by the Dragon. This upgrading is market-led, ranging from operational competitiveness, capacity development, financial and compliance, and capability improvements, underpinned by strict monitoring and evaluation.

Our Business Accelerator aims to connect high-potential suppliers with tangible commercial opportunities to enable growth, followed by upgrading and capital investment, to support that growth. In this way we create a platform to enable positive commercial and transformation outcomes for lead firms and SMEs alike.

To find out how to participate in our 2021 and 2022 Accelerators, contact the appropriate clusters:

Courtney Barnes

I believe buyer-led value chains are crucial to driving economic development and job creation. Overseeing several industrial clusters, I work with retailers and manufacturers, as well as national, provincial and local governments to power the profitable and sustainable growth within buyer-led value chains. With a background in Economics and business consulting, I have experience in developing national and local industrial development policies, executing large-scale, multi-year supplier development programmes and Quick Response implementation.