Classic Business: SME scene – BEE Conference set to assist small and big business in getting the most out of their BEE scorecard with Keith Levenstein, CEO of EconoBEE – 26 May 2009

Classic Business: SME scene – BEE Conference set to assist small and big business in getting the most out of their BEE scorecard with Keith Levenstein, CEO of EconoBEE – 26 May 2009

by John Fraser at 9:42AM on 27 May 2009

JOHN FRASER:  One of the challenges for any small business is to ensure that they get their black economic empowerment credentials right because that could open a lot of doors for them.  On our small business slot this evening, we’re talking to someone who helps to advise and educate people in that area – the CEO of EconoBEE Keith Levenstein.

First of all the context of this interview is I gather you’re holding a couple of conferences in the near future on broad based black economic empowerment – what sort of advice can you give people – how much help can you be to people to make sure their credentials are as they should be?

KEITH LEVENSTEIN:  The single biggest problem that many people have with BEE is they don’t really understand it.  There is a lot of mis-information – people aren’t completely sure of what they need to do or how they need to go about becoming BEE compliant.  A lot of people think they’re either compliant or they’re not compliant when its really levels or degrees of compliancy and by taking correct decisions.  When I talk about correct decisions, I’m referring to what we call making business sense out of BEE and making BEE sense out of business.  If they take those decisions, they will find that they can easily become a lot more BEE compliant, a lot easier with less hassle and less pain in many cases.

JOHN FRASER:  Just tell us about the environment – if you’re a small company wanting to do business quite often people just wont look at you if you don’t have the right credentials – that’s the case isn’t it?

KEITH LEVENSTEIN:  Absolutely – without having a good BEE certificate, and I do emphasise a good score, or a high score, you are literally about to lose business when its not that very difficult, in many instances to obtain a high score, particularly if you’re a small business.  The issue about BEE is there are seven elements that goes into creating your scorecard and your scorecard is a bit like a report card or a rugby match in the way you want to get as many points as you can – maybe better than your opposition.  In the case of a very small business, you only have to comply with four of the seven elements of BEE and I can quickly mention them.  There’s the ownership element, there’s the management – that refers to your directors, and senior management in the company, there’s the employment equity referring to all the other employees in the company, there are areas like skills development which in our opinion and many others, is probably the single biggest area or single most important aspect of BEE.  There is also procurement – who you buy your goods from – if you buy your goods from other companies that have good BEE scores; you get yourself a good BEE score.  Then there are the last two elements – the enterprise development that is helping other small businesses grow, and socio economic development – a long word that simply stands for charitable contributions.  So, by doing four of those seven elements a company can become pretty BEE compliant very quickly, very easily.

JOHN FRASER:  Okay, your next conference in Gauteng is on 9 July at Gallagher Estate – how do people find details of that.

KEITH LEVENSTEIN:  The best way I would suggest is for them to visit our website which is

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