BEE companies make their presence felt

JOHANNESBURG (01/14/2004) - Black-owned enterprise solutions provider, African Legend Indigo (Pty) Ltd. (AL Indigo), has scored an 'A' in an Empowerdex empowerment-rating audit.

The company is the first technology supplier to score this rating, and, according to MD, Ed Gassner, is implementing further measures to improve its status to the highest 'AAA' level, which has not yet been achieved by a privately-owned company in any industry.

Empowerdex is an independent economic empowerment rating and research agency. Its mission is to support both public and private sector entities in accelerating the economic empowerment process. Empowerdex also conducts economic empowerment research, economic empowerment ratings and empowerment risk management services.

57.5 percent of AL Indigo is owned by African Legend Technologies (Pty) Ltd., a subsidiary of black economic empowerment (BEE) company, African Legend Investment Holdings Ltd., while management and staff own the balance of the organization.

"Because the Empowerdex audit is conducted across the business model, focusing on more than just black ownership, we believe this rating gives an accurate portrayal of our empowerment stance. The A-rating says it all in terms of how AL Indigo is positioned," says Gassner.

"We are working to accelerate the empowerment process, and we are currently implementing a documented employment equity plan that we are confident will set us up for AAA status," he adds. "By the end of January we will have a detailed development plan for every member of staff to assist in the advancement of our staff members."

In terms of Empowerdex's ratings, the company scored well for BEE ownership and management, for which it received As, while it scored Bs for skills development, affirmative procurement and social development. A lower C rating was recorded for employment equity.

"The reality is that implementing an empowerment strategy is not an overnight solution; in the present market environment, we are not recruiting many new employees, so growing the number of previously disadvantaged staff members is a slow process. That said, we have a strict affirmative action policy when filling available positions," Gassner explains.

He dismisses a commonly held belief that skills availability is a significant issue for technology organizations. "We do not believe there is a challenge in terms of the skill levels of affirmative candidates. On the whole there are sufficiently qualified people are out there who can either immediately fill positions or who can be developed for certain roles."

Shonisani Makhari, a director at Empowerdex, says the fact that very few companies have achieved an A rating is a very good indication that AL Indigo has made a significant effort in contributing to empowerment.

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