Investing in Your People: The Role of Learning and Development in Attracting and Retaining Talent

Investing in Your People: The Role of Learning and Development in Attracting and Retaining Talent

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

People are one of the most significant assets that any organisation can have. However, for any asset to thrive or add value, there needs to be a continuous investment and intentional effort that drives this process.

Talent Management and Retention

According to a study by Deloitte (2019), 63% of millennials consider the availability of training and development opportunities a key factor when choosing an employer. Similarly, a survey by LinkedIn (2018) found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. Investing in learning and development is, therefore, essential for attracting new talent and retaining current employees.

Talent management is an essential HR component that should be considered. It can be used as a great tool to identify, attract, develop, and retain talent within the organisation. Talent management includes the processes of recruitment, hiring, engagement, development, performance management, recognition, and succession planning. It will also assist in identifying gaps in the skills or experience of employees, which can then be addressed through learning and development initiatives.

Understanding what each employee brings to the table, creating a matrix of aligning individuals to the right roles and duties where they can contribute the most helps improve engagement and efficiency. We can then further look into what learning and development employees need to succeed, and this is then addressed through the Workplace Skills Plan, which is submitted annually.

Employee Engagement and Productivity

Employee engagement and productivity are closely linked to learning and development. When employees perceive their employer to be invested in their growth and development, they are likelier to feel engaged and committed to their work. A report by the Association for Talent Development (2019) found that companies with a strong learning culture have a 30-50% higher employee engagement rate than those without. Additionally, research by Gallup (2017) shows that engaged employees are more productive, with companies that prioritise employee engagement outperforming those that do not by up to 202%.

“A company’s employees are its greatest asset, and your people are your product” – Richard Branson.

Innovation and Adaptability

Investing in people also drives innovation and adaptability within an organisation. Continuous learning and development enable employees to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices and assist in developing new skills and competencies that can drive innovation and growth. In a rapidly changing business environment, the ability to adapt and innovate is crucial for staying competitive. A survey by PwC (2020) found that 79% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills, and investing in employee development is one way to address this challenge.

In conclusion, investing in people is essential for attracting and retaining top talent, driving employee engagement and productivity, and promoting innovation and adaptability within an organisation. Companies prioritising employee development and creating a culture of continuous learning are better positioned to succeed in today’s dynamic business environment. 

“The best investment any company can make is in their employees.” – Bill Gates

Revitalise your workforce and improve your organisational effectiveness with Siyakha’s expert assistance in reviewing and enhancing your ‘people’ strategy through our specialised WSP and ATR process.

Sune Marais

E: | T: 011 706 9006

25 years making development happen

25 years making development happen

Siyakha is celebrating 25 years this year, in delivering solutions to our clients. Our team is focused, more than ever, on making development happen. Through the work that we do in fund-raising and growth, our consulting work to develop solutions and our development teams who are on the ground, driving change, we have never been more aware of the need for all of us to be a part of the solution.


The Siyakha Impact Trust© and the Siyakha Development Trust© are both vehicles that allow our clients to make contributions to SED and/or ESD respectively, allowing these Trusts as 3rd party providers, to then deliver programmes in the 12 months ahead.


Our FabLab© programme is there to support digital SMMEs. Our YOWZA!© platform provides comprehensive support to SMMEs through online learning, funding support, coaching, access to opportunities, an SMME marketplace and much more.


Our Project Hope© initiative provides employment, learning and development for unemployed mothers in townships.


We are working to raise funding for more than 11 000 initiatives, programmes, SMMEs, NGOs and registered charities across South Africa in a multitude of disciplines including forAfrika, a feeding scheme and Pothole Patrol, extrusion processes for environmental and food certainty, to name, but a few.


If you are grappling with how to build a strategy for Sustainability, submit ESG reports, need to rethink B-BBEE to make commercial sense, have Skills Development, Socio-Economic development or ESD spend that is not yet utilised, talk to our team so that we can ensure that you have the right solution that has maximum impact and measurable results.


Suzaan Bezuidenhout

T:011 706 9006

The Big Picture of the Small Business Funding Journey

The Big Picture of the Small Business Funding Journey

Securing funding for your small business is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. We look at how a personal touch can make the journey that much less stressful.

Looking for funding as a small business might appear to be a complex and overwhelming expedition. Finding an advisory firm that is exactly the right fit is vital.


For many small businesses, a smaller firm provides the personal touch and value for money they need, simplifying the funding process and providing a holistic approach. While larger corporations might have a greater range of expertise, smaller advisories can often provide a more tailored approach to each specific situation.


In this article, we look at the journey towards funding that a small advisory will take with you.


First steps

To begin, your advisor will assist you in preparing to get your business funding ready. This means

  • Making sure that your compliance and statutory affairs are in order
  • Ensuring that your business results reflect the ability to be funded
  • Aligning your projections and business strategy with your plan to win in the market in the future
  • A status quo assessment of your small business’s current performance and future expectations.


It is also at this stage that a smaller advisory will spend time getting to know you and your business on a more intimate level.

Strategic Approach

From here, the advisor will assist in devising an appropriate funding strategy guided by what is appropriate for your individual business, bearing in mind your desired outcome. With this funding strategy, your advisory will identify and assist you in approaching an appropriate target of funders for your specific type of funding.


In-depth knowledge of you and your business will allow the advisory to save time and effort by narrowing down the list of prospective funders to those most likely to show an interest in your enterprise.

Managing Destination Expectations

Along the way, a smaller firm will manage your expectations at every turn. While larger corporations might give you an inflated sense of what the outcome of your funding journey might be, smaller firms with a deeper insight into your anticipated outcomes will give you a more realistic view with regards to the cost of funding, the type of funding, and what collateral is required.


“People come in thinking any bank will fund them, any equity partner will buy into their business immediately and at the price that they think it’s worth. It’s our job to give an honest assessment of a client’s current situation and future trajectory, mapping out ideal solutions to help them achieve their plans,” says Ross Smith of Siyakha’s Capital Advisory division.

Overcoming Obstacles

A smaller advisory might be willing to take on challenging transactions and might even work on a successful outcome factor so that their cost varies depending on their ability to help you succeed. After all, why pay a tour operator if you don’t reach your destination?


This approach ensures that your chosen advisory will not only walk the journey with you but will steer you around obstacles and see the journey through to the end, not giving up along the way.

Destination Anywhere

As with any journey, it’s important to choose your travel companion carefully, taking time to research small and large firms to see which will fit your personal and business personality.


If you choose well, the sky really is the limit.


Stimulating SMME Growth Through Mentorship

Stimulating SMME Growth Through Mentorship

With small and medium enterprises emerging as the backbone of our economy, it is vital that bigger businesses and captains of the industry ensure that entrepreneurs and small business owners are guided, nurtured and mentored.

The handing down of knowledge via storytelling and oral traditions is an age-old custom – one that continues to thrive in the modern era, but in many and varied formats. The digital epoch has catalysed access to shared wisdom like never before. Small businesses that are struggling to find their focus, create strategies, develop talent and hone their offerings can benefit now more than ever from the advice of mentors.

Similar to the way that the youth rely on the sagacity of elders, small business owners rely on the guidance and examples of those that have gone before and succeeded, to find their way in a sea of opportunities. The responsibility to teach and mentor falls squarely on the shoulders of experts in their fields. But how do small businesses gain access to the wealth of information, knowledge and experience of stalwarts in their industry? Digital platforms are perhaps the best way to make content available to those who are thirsty for knowledge.

Digital Mentorship

Gone are the days of having to be physically present to link mentor and mentee. In fact, connectivity is the very essence of digital or virtual mentorship. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations were exploring ways to take mentorship to a broader audience, allowing greater connectivity in various business networks.

While one-on-one, in-person training is certainly engaging, it is, in many ways, restrictive. Time and geographical constraints limit access for both the mentor and the mentee and don’t allow the variety of options that digital mentorship does, options that now even include access to multiple and varied mentors. After all, careers in the present age are multifaceted and mentees may require more than one form of guidance.

There are several ways that digital mentorship can be implemented, from webinars to YouTube videos, apps to emails.


Over the past twenty years, web(semi)nars have become an invaluable device for knowledge-sharing. Whether live or on-demand, webinars allow mentors to teach, advise and share with a multitude of participants from all over the world. According to HubSpot, viewers in 2020 watched triple the number of webinars than they did in 2019 and the global webinar market is estimated to reach 800 million by 2023, strong evidence that webinars are in demand and hugely beneficial to viewers.

Mentors who tap into the potential of webinar tools can inspire, drive and empower entrepreneurs in an engaging and provocative way because they have a captive, interested audience who wants to learn from them and can do so remotely.


Videos that live online allow mentees to access the content at any time. YouTube has become an extremely popular content repository and mentors on the platform even have their own channels. It is important when creating YouTube mentorship content to ensure that your videos remain engaging always keeping the purpose of the video in mind and using tools such as titles and subtitles to underpin messaging. One of the greatest advantages of YouTube is the analytics that it provides. Content creators can measure viewership, click-throughs, time spent viewing, subscriber growth, demographics and audience retention to name but a few.


Statistics show that app downloads shot up by 23.3% during the pandemic. With the advent of remote working and unprecedented mobile engagement, apps are a tool that all businesses can leverage to their advantage and the advantage of their employees. Whether it’s using Zoom to engage with mentees, MicroMentor to connect small business owners with business mentors, WhatsApp to chat or Slack to create shared work environments, making mentorship accessible is easier than ever before.


Mentorship isn’t a one-way street. The most successful mentorship programmes allow for learning and engagement. It’s also not a one size fits all and each mentee is a unique individual with specific needs and wants. Customised email communication, whether following up on a session, checking on progress or presenting new material is one way to make sure that every individual in a mentorship programme feels seen, heard and nurtured.

According to, 94% of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if they had mentorship programmes in place and 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentorship experience. So, there’s no question that mentorship isn’t merely a nice-to-have, it’s an essential tool that does and will continue to contribute to the success and growth of small businesses.

Digital Platforms for SMMEs

Digital Platforms for SMMEs

What to look for in an online platform

Starting and running a small business can be daunting. But, in a world where access to information and learning is at the fingertips of almost everyone, help is always at hand. We look at how to identify the best online platforms for your small business to learn and grow. There are certain key features that any portal to SMME success should have.



Perhaps the most important attribute of an online platform for SMMEs is a networking platform. Similar to a social media feed such as Facebook or Instagram, the networking feature allows you to post ideas, chat with other business owners and share your thoughts on topical issues. Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs is vital. Support, learnings, networking opportunities, and potential business are just a scroll away.



Perhaps the most important attribute of an online platform for SMMEs is a networking platform. Similar to a social media feed such as Facebook or Instagram, the networking feature allows you to post ideas, chat with other business owners and share your thoughts on topical issues. Connecting with fellow entrepreneurs is vital. Support, learnings, networking opportunities, and potential business are just a scroll away.


Learning Management System

Continuous learning is half the fun of owning an SMME. An online environment where you can find a coach, download tutorials, engage with experienced mentors and access thought leadership articles can be a rich and exciting world for business owners. Whether you need an in-depth course in marketing or a quick refresher on HR, the platform should give you everything you need to expand your knowledge and maintain your expertise.



Which small business hasn’t been through the intense and sometimes demoralising process of accessing finance? Reputable online platforms will provide you with the opportunity to find and connect with the right funders. They may even provide you with a self-assessment tool so that you can make sure that you are funding-ready before approaching a potential sponsor.



Keeping your finger on the pulse of the business world is essential when operating your own business. Whether it’s a blog about customer loyalty programmes, an announcement about a new protection of personal information act or an article about tender fraud, the platform should provide you with important and interesting content on a regular basis.



Events are important tools for distributing information, connecting with like-minded people, and learning from experts. Webinars, conferences, product launches and summits, whether virtual or hybrid, are all accessible on a good online platform. And who knows, now that things are opening up, you might even see an invitation pop up on your online platform for a live event with actual snacks!



It can be difficult and time-consuming to find appropriate business opportunities. Trawling through tender sites, flipping through newspapers, and scrolling through Google searches can all take a significant bite out of your time. A platform that provides you with access to a single space where all opportunities are advertised is a vital aspect of a good SMME portal.



Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork… it can be the make or break of your business. Templates for business plans, contracts, leave forms, balance sheets and so much more should be provided on your chosen portal and should be consistent in appearance and quality, and easily customisable.


Added extras

Additional features such as chatbots or online coaches are an added bonus and can make your learning, connecting and working experiences easier, more effective and even a little bit more fun!

With all these informative and supportive functionalities, an excellent online portal for your business will take you closer to the dream that you have for your SMME, allowing you to pick and choose what you use, who you connect with and how much you learn.

The success of your business might be entirely on your shoulders, but a good digital platform has got your back!

Where there is a will, there is a way: The case of small business development in Rwanda

Where there is a will, there is a way: The case of small business development in Rwanda

The Rwandan government and its stakeholders have risen to the occasion, lowering Rwanda’s trade imbalance through unprecedented development and support of SMMEs


“When SMMEs work collaboratively within a cluster, they have new market opportunities, and this increases learning.”


It was not accidental…


A thought leadership piece by Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), highlights the true meaning of the adage “where there is a will, there is a way”.


Akamanzi asserted that when it comes to the development of SMMEs, the Rwandan government, its development partners and the private sector have not played victim to the horrors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.


Government and its stakeholders have risen to the occasion, lowering Rwanda’s trade imbalance through unprecedented development and support of SMMEs. As a result, Rwandan SMMEs account for about 98% of businesses and 41% of private-sector employment, according to Akamanzi.


This success story was a follow-through on the challenges identified to have hampered SMME growth in Rwanda.


A report by The Khana Group (TKG) lists the following key challenges:

  • Limited business development services
  • High cost of doing business
  • Limited technical and business skills
  • Lack of entrepreneurial culture
  • Lack of access to finance
  • Difficulty accessing market information and markets


The ‘will’ in practice


Creating an enabling environment


The Rwandan government, in collaboration with key stakeholders, instituted pro-business reforms that reduced the cost of doing business, subsequently creating a conducive environment for SMMEs. This earned Rwanda well-deserved recognition in the World Bank’s Doing Business report (Focus on SMEs in Rwanda, 2015).


Capability building


There seemed to be no rest for the Rwandan government as it endeavoured to remove roadblocks in the way of SMME development. To this end, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) ramped up its support for SMMEs. The IFC launched an online training programme and business solution centre that would help Rwandan SMMEs to develop entrepreneurship skills and build stronger businesses, (Supporting Smaller Businesses in Rwanda, n.d.).


Changing models…


Rwanda has embraced the new model of business development purported by renowned strategy thought-leader Michael Porter.

Siyakha Africa - Where there is a will, there is a way: The case of small business development in Rwanda: Changing models

Focused strategy…


“The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other.” – Thomas Stallkamp

The RDB promotes collaboration in SMME development by different stakeholders. Most important is the collaboration among SMMEs within a cluster. According to Akamanzi, “When SMEs work collaboratively within a cluster, they have new market opportunities, and this increases learning.”


Hide it under the bushel; no…


The positive ripple effect of the Rwandan government’s will to transform the nation has created unique national attributes (a country free from corruption, clean and secure, a promising regional leader in ICT, a central location in Africa, etc.) that support business growth and elevates Rwanda to the “Switzerland of Africa” (Porter, n.d.).