IQbusiness has partnered with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to implement its Competitive Business Programme (CSRCB) for SMEs throughout Africa.

The comprehensive corporate sustainability management and disclosure framework is aimed at helping small- and medium-sized enterprises in the developing world use sustainability reporting to gain better access to global value chains, in addition to a host of operational benefits.

The globalisation of business today has provided SMEs in developing countries with vast opportunities to access new markets. This in turn contributes to long-term growth for their companies and greater national economies. However, a growing number of organisations and multinational enterprises are insisting on information from their SME suppliers on the measurable sustainability of their performance. Consumers too are demanding greater transparency from all organisations about the responsibility of their actions.

Unable to supply this information, or meet the stringent standards of sustainable business conduct, untrained and unaware SMEs miss out opportunities that would have had a positive ripple effect beyond stakeholders to the greater community.

IQbusiness, with GRI, equips SMEs with this critical competitive differentiator via the Competitive Business Programme and GRI reporting tool. The digital reporting platform automates and simplifies public sustainability reporting according to categories (economic, social, environmental), although its greater value lies in the process used, which guides SMEs through all key sustainability considerations – with unquestionable external and internal benefits.

These benefits include:

* Increased access to market

* Access to finance

* Improved operational efficiencies

* Addressing information/data needs from large company clients in a structured way

* A better position as sustainability-conscious suppliers

* Improved internal systems

* Better measurement and management of issues.

GRI reporting is a powerful method that SMEs can utilise to share information in a structured, standardised way with their clients, partners and other stakeholders, as well as build their reputation as sustainability-minded suppliers. This will allow easier access to finance. Just as important, sustainability reporting helps SMEs develop their internal systems, improve efficiencies and cost effectiveness, and focus their greater vision through reflection and analysis.

IQbusiness provides training in the use of the GRI sustainability-reporting framework direct to SMEs. The market-leading consulting firm also extends the offer to larger corporates who wish to empower their suppliers as part of their ESD programmes, as well as ensure their entire supply chain is operating in accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Kuda Mukova, head of sustainability and impact optimisation at IQbusiness, comments: “For small- and medium-sized enterprises to maintain a competitive edge and, of course, best serve the needs of their customers, it’s imperative that they’re geared with the correct tools that enable them to do so effectively. Larger organisations can certainly play a part in this process by equipping suppliers with sustainability reporting training, and consider it as contributing to their own broader sustainability strategy.”