As Albert Einstein once said, “the only source of knowledge is experience.” We, of course, could not agree more.
Historians claim that historical perspective helps to sharpen one’s vision of the present, not the past. This has never been more true than today in South Africa. Political challenges aside, our economy is finding itself within a time warp last experienced around the collapse of Apartheid.
Having founded Blake, a business which has stood the test of time for over 27 years, affords one the ability to identify current challenges with reference to those of the past. Just like historical perspective, it is the present that presents challenges last experienced decades ago. This experience can and should be used to help limit current risks.
Through assisting major enterprises to manage the risks faced on their debtors’ books for nearly three decades, Blake has gained invaluable insights into trends. It has also generated a unique and credible understanding of past happenings. This, in turn, allows us to accurately assess the risks currently faced within this sector of the South African economy. Something that few others can do.
Global recession of the 90’s
Black Monday of 1987 would lead the global economy into recession, lasting until 1993. At this time, the credit director of a large sub-Saharan clothing retailer began consulting with Blake. They were seriously concerned by the contraction in the platinum sector and the unemployment it generated. Store closures in mining towns were imminent and support was needed at this difficult time.
With store closures came debtors migrating back to their homes, escalating the risk of non-performance on their loans. Part of the Blake-implemented solution used was a product called “Blake Mobility”. This entailed the construction of a network across South Africa that hand-delivered statements to debtors at their homes. This allowed Blake to personally engage with debtors in order to best understand their circumstances. The insights were unparalleled and the debtors appreciated the effort taken to assist them. As a result, Blake Mobility proved to be a strong mitigator of the unknown risks, which we quantified and dealt with through this service.
Available capacity in the Blake contact centre also enabled us to design and implement a strategy that would best address the risk faced at the time. Taking into account that the debtor was most likely to be unemployed and difficult to contact, we had to overcome these barriers to communication. Seeing as this came at a time just before mobile phones arrived in South Africa, the retailer and the service provider needed to work together on the most efficacious approach to this risk.
Little did we know that this was the first time an outside service provider in the credit risk business would partner with financial services in addressing a risk as specific as this.
2017 and moving forward
Whilst the past is notable, our vision of the present is what matters most now. By using experiences like the one above, we can identify similar situations and draw on our experience. This allows us to assist customers in dealing with the complex challenges we face today. South Africa is at an inflection point in our history. Our young democracy is being challenged by an uncertain political climate, which has negatively impacted on our economy. Such uncertainty last existed at the time of Apartheid’s fall. The ratings downgrade, comments by the IMF, and employment question marks are all too familiar. There are strong parallels forming with looming wide scale retrenchments as a result of current economic realities. We’ve seen it all before. Regardless of future developments, we remain certain that Blake is equipped with the expertise to guide clients through these challenging times. Come what may, we are ready.
Experience counts, period.
We’ve seen and assisted in all areas of risk navigation for nearly three decades now. We are both grateful and proud of our story and expertise. Through it all, we have become a stronger and more enlightened service provider that can identify, forewarn and empower our clientele. In all areas of our overall offering, our experience has come to make us the ultimate weapon in the face of economic uncertainty. Are you equipped to thrive in these challenging times?
Three companies have outlined plans in recent weeks to lay off more than 20,000 employees and shut mines, with the latest, Sibanye Gold, talking of illegal mining, poor productivity and the strong rand as the factors behind its plans to shed about 10,000 jobs.
Read the full story on BusinessLIVE.