Skip to main content

How will the impact of Business Development Services (BDS) be improved?

The attempts at finding commonly agreed answers to this question is seemingly maturing now that the final version of the “Discussion Paper On Improving the Quality of Business Advisory Services In South Africa” is published. However, while the discussion unfolds, practitioners remain uncertain about the potential requirements they will have to meet and the Department of Small Business Development is still working on new versions of its Policy Framework on BDS.

When the process of consultations to write the discussion paper started three years ago, opinions were diverse. Some said the only way to ensure quality delivery is for the profession of business advising to be regulated by law. Others were in favour of self-regulation by professional bodies as sufficient provision for ensuring impactful service delivery. And then there were also some saying there should be no regulation at all.

While there may still be various perspectives on the best route, some elements of an agreed BDS framework is noticeable, as it is explained in the discussion paper, such as the benefits of professionalising Business Advisory Services (BAS) and the need for access to various educational options to ensure adequate capacity by the practitioners delivering business support.

Practitioners may very well be asking how they should prepare themselves to be ready for likely changes, what operational capacity they will have to put in place and which educational requirements they will be expected to meet. The next episode of the IBASA & EPI Webinar Series is presented with the aim of offering business advisors, consultants, mentors, coaches and facilitators with insights into the thinking behind professionalisation of the industry and how they may prepare themselves to be ready when new requirements are put into place.



“Professionalisation of Business Advising – What should practitioners expect next?”

Koenie Slabbert (SEDA), Nishi Singh (IBASA) & Carl John Lotter (SASMEF) will discuss what is needed to ensure impactful business development services and what practitioners should expect regarding the professionalisation of business advising

Thursday 17 September 2020 from 11h30 to 12h45

<<CLICK HERE >>to book your place


“As an industry, we’ve seen too many fly-by-night service providers who are pretending that they have the ability to support small businesses,” says, Koenie Slabbert, one of the panellists on the upcoming webinar and Acting Executive of the Enterprise Development Division at the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).

“We can ensure that the quality of business support services is improved by introducing standards that service providers must meet and by giving those who are exposed to sub-standard services access to recourse so that those offering bad quality delivery are prevented from causing damage to the business in need of help,” Slabbert says.

The key role of practitioners in unlocking the potential of small and entrepreneurial businesses is accentuated by another webinar panellist, Carl J Lotter, the Chief Executive of the South African Small and Medium Enterprise Federation (SASMEF). “Business support practitioners are the vitamins feeding the living system we call the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he says.

Lotter is in agreement that the role of practitioners should not be undervalued, but he adds that they operate in a full “support ecosystem” where the various elements of the system should be aligned in creating an environment where entrepreneurs and small business owners can create thriving companies.

If it may be assumed that there is agreement on the need to prioritise professionalisation and the introduction of standards for service delivery, against what will the competencies of individual practitioners then be measured?

“We need to agree on the required competencies needed for support by qualifying practitioners,” says Nishi Singh, Director of NSP Consultants and Regional Chairperson of IBASA in KwaZulu Natal

“Competencies precedes quality,” she says. “You cannot achieve quality in business advising if those delivering the services do not have the capacity and competencies to do so. That is why we must have a strong focus on increasing the competencies of practitioners.”

IBASA recently developed a competencies framework, which sets out to define the various levels of competency needed when serving as a business advisor.

  • To join the CPD webinar, you can << REGISTER HERE >>.
  • Christoff Oosthuysen is the webinar host and Founding CEO of the Entrepreneurial Planning Institute (EPI).