Original publish date – Tue, 26 May 2009 09:48:52 +0000, MPUMULO MAPHOSA

One of the simplest and effective ways of earning BBBEE points is to increase the level of spending on Socio-Economic Development (SED). SED is one of the seven elements of a BEE scorecard focusing on the extent to which an organization carries out initiatives intended to uplift the South African society. It is worth 25 points for a Qualifying Small Enterprise and 5 points for a Generic company.

Publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public’s perception of a company and its products. From a marketing perspective, publicity is one of the variables that comprise the promotional mix where as promotion is one of the variables that comprise the marketing mix.

Therefore, without a shade of doubt, companies stand to gain immensely by channeling significant investment levels towards SED initiatives not only by earning valuable BEE points, but also from a marketing perspective. Investing in SED builds a superb image and an explosive reputation for an organization.

Needless to say, it is of paramount importance for companies to note that modern consumers are incredibly well informed and educated. They identify themselves with reputable organizations. They recognize and appreciate the active involvement of a company in uplifting the society.

It makes sense therefore for companies to engage on those SED projects, which relate to their field of expertise. Amongst other issues, such projects may be targeted towards education, HIV/AIDS, projects for the disabled and other community building initiatives.

However, engaging in SED for the purpose of earning BEE points and building a good image is a misfired and twisted approach. The bottom line is, it does not support the ideal transformation of the society and certainly it is not good enough to create a meaningful and sustainable improvement. Such entities will enjoy in the short-term and definitely not in the long-term. A company’s SED policy should be based on the commitment to contribute to the constructive transformation of the South African society. In this way, an organization gains an enormous amount of publicity at the same time earning priceless BEE points.

To put this into perspective, let us take a company that identifies an orphanage whose walls are an eye’s nightmare. It then invests in painting those walls giving them a fresh and stunning look. Such an initiative does not give back anything physical like money to that particular organization. If those involved in such a project are doing it based on the commitment to make a positive difference, that instant improvement of the orphanage’s walls may be emotionally rewarding but moreover, the community recognizes and appreciates that effort. Through such an investment a company builds a respectable and sustainable image and an explosive reputation whilst at the same time improving on its BEE points.