From the early 1990s, there have been some who have viewed businesses, and indeed our economy, as a kind of ecosystem. In his Harvard Business Review article entitled “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition”, James F Moore defined a business ecosystem as “an economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world.”1.
In the South African context, this would appear to be self-evident. There are a number of businesses that have sprung up around South African specific occurrences – every time there’s loadshedding, for example, a new inverter company appears.
If business can indeed be seen as an ecology, Angie Lanham-Love, CEO of Lanham-Love Consulting, thinks that Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment can function as a kind of trophic cascade effector, to the benefit of the business ecology of South Africa as a whole.
“The most famous example of a trophic cascade in recent history is that of the wolves of Yellowstone National Park in the USA,” says Lanham-Love. “After being hunted to extinction in the area in the early 1900s, they were reintroduced to the Park in the 1990s. The reintroduction of the wolves meant that their main source of food, the elk, saw their population diminish. This had the knock-on effect of the elk’s main source of food, the Aspen trees, managing to grow to adulthood, as they weren’t being browsed to death as juveniles. In turn, beaver dams started being seen in the park once more, as they could now use the Aspen’s to make their dams, which changed the course of entire rivers in Yellowstone – and so on and so on.”2
“Based on this idea, Lanham-Love Consulting thinks that B-BBEE, when implemented correctly, can have the same kind of effect on the business ecology of South Africa,” says Lanham-Love. “By investing in B-BBEE in their own companies, businesses will be directly contributing to the upliftment and education of those previously disadvantaged. By empowering and employing more people, you quite literally make more people able to afford your services. Other businesses, who make use of your services or products, or who sell your business services or products, will spring up, further employing and educating more people, spreading out in a web of empowerment that continues to grow and develop the business ecology of South Africa.”
“If you want another, simpler way to look at it,” says Lanham-Love, “B-BBEE doesn’t mean that you have to share your slice of pie with more people. When done correctly, B-BBEE means a bigger pie entirely – and more than enough for all to go around.”
If you are ready for you and your business to become part of the larger business ecology of South Africa, speak to Lanham-Love Consulting. With more than 20 years of experience in making B-BBEE benefit everyone involved, your can trust us to transform your business for the better.