Value Web: Our Approach to Economic Development

Simanye’s approach to development is what we have termed the Value Web.  We start with the sustainable livelihoods and Asset Based Community Driven (ABCD) approach by understanding that complex issues are interrelated and that communities must be the drivers of their own development through asset mobilisation.  Through grass-roots ABCD interventions and other community engagements we understand both what the key issues are as well as the key assets, and then help develop solutions by accessing deep community knowledge and expertise.

Our range of solutions following ABCD is focused on impact and real matching with what people are interested in and capable of.  For example, those with true entrepreneurial ability will be matched with business development services such as training, mentoring and finance, while those simply seeking jobs but lacking skills will be assisted with skills development programmes, bursaries, internship and general job seeking.  We are big proponents of social entrepreneurship as this aligns with our principles on a fundamental level.

The need for innovation in economic development is also great, and we try to learn from each engagement in order to improve and build on our service offering. For example, in realising that many organisations are focusing on SME development in South Africa and yet the positive impact in this space has been low, we concluded the main issue is that most people are simply not interested in or do not have the appetite for doing what it takes to succeed as entrepreneurs, and trying to force everyone to become entrepreneurs can only lead to inefficiency and lack of impact.  However, since good business managers are easier to find and train than classic entrepreneurs, finding models that reduce risk through using a proven business model and a more centralised structure led us to incorporate the concept of microfranchising in our work.

An example of how Simanye’s Value Web approach works is shown in the diagram below:


Most recently we have also come to the realisation that environmental and agricultural concerns are truly not being addressed at grass-roots levels and this is the result of our increasing focus on emerging farmers and sustainable practices.

Guiding principles to economic development

  • Start with an asset based approach where the development agent is a partner to the community and not a dictator
  • Understand root causes and how issues are interlinked
  • Support community interventions that show the most sustainability and determination to succeed
  • Design additional interventions based on community identified assets and link in to what community wants to do
  • Create linkages and interventions across the entire value chain – this requires partnerships with government and corporates
  • Find the right leader, champion or manager for the project
  • Ensure participatory monitoring and evaluation, using global standards as well as community definitions of success