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So what on earth is an INDABA?

A few months ago someone said to me are you going to the Indaba in Capetown in February?  I raised an eyebrow and thought to my myself, should I ask the obvious question?  At the risk of sounding stupid I muttered, “What on earth is an ‘Indaba’?”

The response further confused me.  I was told. “Its only the world’s biggest African mining conference!

Indaba 2012

Well there is more to it than that!  An indaba is I am wikiliably told, is an:

“important conference held by the izinDuna (principal men) of the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa. (Such meetings are also practiced by the Swazi, who refer to them using the close cognate indzaba.) These indabas may include only the izinDuna of a particular community or may be held with representatives of other communities. The term comes from a Zulu language word, meaning “business” or “matter”.

So then why do we care?

Well mines, breweries, refineries, mills, and manufacturers all want to buy stuff.  But from where? From the communities amongst which they operate?  Or from far distant suppliers?  Just like a UN or NATO peace operation, they are economic engines of a sort. The difference is that they are around for decades as opposed to a few years. They are sustainable, at least from the point of view of the profit imperative.  They stay, they employ, they buy, as long as they are in business. As their interests in sustainability evolve they are also becoming increasingly interested in their local supply chains. In fact they are also seeing it as being a matter not of CSR, corporate social responsibility, but of CSV – Creating Shared Value. Whereby using, and developing, local suppliers can create a partnership in creating value. A rising tide in which all boats rise, so to speak.

And that is the whole point of this story. Peace Dividend Trust has a tool which can play a small but important role in getting local business onto the rising tide. Its called the BuildingMarket.org initiative. It can help companies create value by engaging local supply chains, and assist local business in creating value by developing profitable relations with the global marketplace. Its all about jobs, jobs, jobs.

But its a crowded market, local content (as local procurement is known in the industry) is increasingly an area in which more and more people are seeking to help out.  But they tend to be consultants, offering advice without running projects that extend deep in local marketplaces.

What I think sets us apart is that rather than provide policy advice on local content or support a relatively small group of SMEs in the supply chain (eg. 30 companies through a training program), we have a project model that really drills down into the local market.  We gather way more info about local businesses than anyone else out there and we develop strong relationships with them through a strong team of local staff.  Now, we are actually not as cool as all that, but its mostly right. And the bits that are right, enables us to help the local supplier community and guarantees a different kind of success.

So?  If you are going to the “Investing in African Mining Indaba 2012″ look out for our very own Jenna Slotin and Ainsley Butler. One is flying in from Afghanistan, and the other from Liberia, and they are looking to see if people want to buy local and create jobs.

If you want to find them just email slotin[at]pdtglobal.org or butler[at]pdtglobal.org. They don’t bite.

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