Trust took years to develop. It could be eroded by a change in personnel or circumstance, but over time it was vital for the success of the projects.
Partnerships, dialogue and communication
Investments and Markets
Tourism
Business Process Outsourcing
Community Investment
Public Services
Education
Infrastructure
Public Works
Partnerships and Resources
Partnerships, dialogue and
communication
Resources
Communications
Corporate Partners
Board and Management
People in the Projects
Introduction
Exhibit
Stories
Credits
The Business Trust carried out its work by building partnerships and encouraging a cooperative approach to the pursuit of South Africa’s development objectives. The idea was that relationships could be built and trust enhanced by working together through the Business Trust and its projects, sharing perspectives on strategic issues, and communicating the value of partnership.
This approach was developed in the context of a world characterised by eroding trust and a country historically defined by division. South Africa’s democratic government was facing escalating demands and business wanted to show its commitment to the new democracy. There were few channels of engagement between a business community searching for new forms of organisation and a government cautious about engaging with business.
The strategy of the Business Trust was to:
build partnerships that enable business and government to work together
create a forum for business and government leaders to consult on strategic issues
share the experience and the results of working together in a manner that would encourage a cooperative approach to addressing South Africa’s development challenges.
By the end of the programme an extensive range of partnerships had been built. The Big Business Working Group facilitated dialogue between business and government at a time when it was the only avenue for such engagement. The results of working together were conveyed to the main stakeholders while underscoring the commitment of business to South Africa and the value of a cooperative approach to the country’s development.
The partnerships were strongest where there was leadership with a vision of the state that included social partners as co-creators of strategy and partners in implementation.
 

 
Results
Working together
Formally structured partnerships were established to enable business and government to work together
A corporate partnership
A corporate partnership was established among 140 companies across industries and sectors
The companies agreed to work together through the Business Trust. They were bound by a vision of South Africa as a stable, prosperous country in which business is a trusted social partner, by the strategies they agreed to support, the formula on which funding was based, and by their undertakings to fund the Business Trust.
A governance partnership
A governance partnership was established in the board of the Business Trust
Members were appointed by the President and the companies that funded the organisation. Over the life of the organisation, 25 cabinet ministers, deputy minsters and senior officials served on the board with the 49 corporate chairpersons or chief executives representing most of the major companies in South Africa.
Operating partnerships
A variety of operating partnerships were established
Cooperation agreements were signed with the responsible government departments setting out the terms on which projects would be undertaken.
Partnership committees were established to guide the implementation of the major projects. These were typically chaired by the minister responsible for the area of operation in which the partnership worked or by senior business leaders.
In some cases business and government leaders participated in project governing bodies, such as in the case of SA Tourism and the Tourism Enterprise Partnership.
Service partnerships were set up between the Business Trust and service providers for the delivery of projects.
Implementation partnerships were established at the level of local schools, municipalities, courts, businesses, training agencies and local communities.
Strategic partnership
The Big Business Working Group was established by the President at the request of the preparatory committee for the Business Trust
Its purpose was to provide business and government leaders with the opportunity to exchange opinions on a range of national issues.
These opinions did not seek to represent the mandated positions of business or any of its representative bodies. Neither did they purport to be expert opinions.
The Big Business Working Group sought expert advice when necessary and shared its opinions with other business organisations. The purpose of these engagements was not to negotiate agreements, but rather to develop a shared appreciation of the issues, to strengthen relationships, and enhance trust.
The Big Business Working Group served as a vehicle for an informal exchange of opinion between business and government leaders and from time to time linked business with members of the President’s other working groups through joint working group meetings. Issues discussed included:
• agriculture
• BEE
• confidence
• economic growth
• employment
• energy
• environment
• food security
• global economic crisis
• growth
• HIV and AIDS
• infrastructure
• investment
• land reform
• poverty
• reparations
• the Second Economy
• skills
• the currency
• the Growth and Development Summit
• tourism
• trust
• Zimbabwe
Over the life of the organisation, 25 cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and senior officials served on the board with the 49 corporate chairpersons or chief executives representing most of the major companies in South Africa.
 

 
Trust took years to develop. It could be eroded by a change in personnel or circumstance, but over time it was vital for the success of the projects.
Sharing the story
The Business Trust Long Run was created to bring business and government together to share the stories of working together
The Long Run was staged six times. Over 5 000 runners from business and government crossed the country in relay teams covering some 9 700 km in the world’s longest corporate relay.
Figure 7: Business Trust advertisement promoting the companies who joined the Long Run
Projects were visited, relationships built and wide media coverage secured
In addition the Business Trust published quarterly reports, annual reports, case studies and electronic bulletins. Annual report-back meetings were held as well as project briefings. A website was maintained for the Business Trust and websites developed for the Expanded Public Works Support Programme, Tourism Enterprise Programme, Business Process Outsourcing Programme and the Infrastructure Programme. A database of 4 000 people received consistent communication on the work of the organisation.
Capturing the lessons
Lessons were systematically captured and incorporated in the work of the organisation
External evaluations were undertaken of all major programmes, case studies were produced, surveys undertaken, and a series of leadership dialogues held.
Lessons
On working together
Partnerships require clear leadership and sound operating structures
The partnerships were strongest:
where there was leadership with a vision of the state that included social partners as co-creators of strategy and partners in implementation
at the operating level where the partners shared responsibility for results.
On thinking together
Sustained engagement on clearly focussed issues is required
In the absence of formal channels for engagement, the Big Business Working group filled a void.
Covering a wide range of issues with different leaders participating at different times, it had limited potential to build a sustained engagement on critical issues.
On sharing the story
Sharing the story of working together presents a significant challenge
  By choosing to work together, individuals and organisations gave up the roles of heroes and villains.
Care was needed to nurture the partnership and acknowledge the partners’ roles and contribution.
The Long Run provided a useful device for sharing the story.
On trust
Trust is slow to develop, but vital for progress
Trust often took years to develop at the project level. It could be eroded by a change in personnel or circumstance, but over time it was vital for the success of the projects.