IT & Operations

Participants blog study trip: 'still supply chain challenges in Africa'

August 6, 2014

South Africa is positioning itself as a gateway to the Sub-Saharan Africa, discovered participants of the the Executive Master of Operations and Supply Chain Excellence (MOS) studytrip. There are still challenges in the supply chain. Eric den Hartog, one of the participants wrote a blog about the study trip to Cape Town.

The study trip started with an introduction at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Cape Town by Sarah Babb. She prepared us for the start of colleges and company visits.

On Monday the week started with a lecture of professor John Luiz. He gave an excellent introduction on developments in South and Sub Saharan Africa. One main lesson learned is the enormous possibilities which occur now because of increased political stability and good economic policy focusing on reduction of governmental debt. Next to these developments the relatively young population can support the economic up rise of the continent if these people are properly educated.

Keep looking for disruptive innovations which bring 10 times more revenue. Start small with innovations en be humble, curious and sexy. This was the message of Sean Temlett on Tuesday. He gave us a lot of practical examples on innovation on products/services, processes, business models and market space during a very interactive college.

A good example of an innovation we saw at the Standard Bank, we visited in the afternoon. The visit was organized by Nicolas Pascarel and Pierre Coetzer from Reciprocity. Andre Jonker gave a in-depth insight in how people with hardly any money can use banking services. It is even possible to do financial transactions with someone else without having a bank account. The latest development is to scan your products at the shop with your mobile phone and pay automatically.

After this visit we met Mr. Robert in the Gugulethu-settlement. Mr. Robert told us about how he tries to help the small groceries (spazaa’s) in the settlements to improve their supply of goods and looks of the very small shops (max. 40 m2). In the early evening we had a company presentation of Bergflora, a big African flower exporter with lots of real challenges in the supply chain.  

The next day we visited the different townships with a guide to learn more about business, housing etc. in these townships. Our group was divided into 4 subgroups and every subgroup had one guide. The highlight of the tour was the visit to the houses of people in the townships; my group visited our guide’s home.

Examples of successful South African companies we saw on Thursday. The first visit was to the Newland brewery of SABMiller. The focus lied especially on supply processes in the brewery and about the optimization program SABMiller is running. The other company we went to was Woolworths, which delivers clothing and food through stores to the upper side of the economy. We visited 2 warehouse operations; hanging garments and packed garments. Louis Duffam , international supply chain manager, told us during an interesting presentation about supply chain challenges for Woolworths in Africa. Especially the lack of infrastructure leads to problems e.g. with the implementation of web shopping.  

Before we went home, we went back to college. Emeritus professor Norman Faull, Chairman of the Lean Institute Africa told us about supply chain challenges in Africa. After this Sharon Brand took over to show us examples of supply chain best practices focusing on Sales and Operations Planning and Customer Segmentation. After this professor Norman Faull took over. He further went into details on Lean in Africa with good examples from practice. Together with Kavitha Singh questions were answered about challenging South African Labor conditions. In the afternoon Fatima Hamdalay took over with a very fun and interactive session on the combination of Lean and people management.  

We have learned a lot about the culture and doing business in an emerging economy. Next to this it is clear that South Africa is positioning itself as the gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa. As a group we would like to thank the Graduate School of Business, all teachers, guides, etc. for a wonderful week in a wonderful country. '  

This blog is written by Eric den Hartog, student at TIAS, course MOS-2 about the international study trip Cape Town, South Africa.

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