Standard Bank KZN Top Business Women 2021, Monique Labat

Monique Labat was born in Mauritius, and she holds dual citizenship – Mauritian and South African. Her family moved to South Africa when she was five years old.

Monique reflects that it is advantageous to speak more than one language. French is her home language, she did German at school, and has enjoyed a basic isiZulu course. The reason she says is that it’s always wonderful to greet people in their home language. To this day, French has stood her in good stead as her company, Monique Labat Consulting engages with companies in Mauritius, Reunion Island and in France.

She established Monique Labat Consulting in August 2011 to provide valuable specialist skills to both public and private sector clients. Monique consults to local and international clients on market linkages and business to business opportunities, co-ordinates detailed programmes and itineraries for international trade, investment and inward buying delegations and compiles market intelligence reports for multiple industry sectors.

A learnt skill

Her career has spanned the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the City of Durban’s Investment Promotion Agency as well as Tradepoint South Africa Durban. These roles have meant extensive international and local travel promoting Durban as an investment location and presenting at Durban’s Sister Cities abroad and at the global World Trade Point Federation conferences.

“My business in community achievements means being able to communicate both with small and corporate companies. It’s a learnt skill which I picked up at the Durban Chamber of Commerce early on in my career. One of my team’s best achievements is that the Chamber was fielding over 60 000 business enquiries. What that meant, was that those Chamber members were able to use the research that we had compiled for them to grow their businesses in order to retain their staff, and to grow their export opportunities.”

Monique says that she got to where she is today thanks to her love of working at the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s senior management were instrumental in mentoring and teaching her about business processes and the role of effective lobbying to ensure retention of member companies for the Chamber. “The Chamber senior management, motivated and encouraged us to grow our own networks within the organisation and with the member companies. The reason I was inspired was that they gave us the time, the energy and the support needed to grow ourselves within the organisation. To this day, I’m particularly grateful to my senior manager, Nadia Thomson who played a wonderful role at the Chamber for many years.”

Being mindful to others

One of the challenges Monique has found is that in South Africa, people are quick to jump to conclusions and have pre-conceived ideas. In response, she finds that listening and being mindful to others stands you in good stead. “Rather ask questions and listen to those responses. That way you will learn far more, and you will gain a greater empathetic understanding of the colleagues that you work with, the clients that engage with you, as well friends and family,” says Monique.

An active Rotarian, Monique volunteers her time and resources to assist communities within the greater Durban area. Her core values are in line with Rotary’s motto, ‘Service above self ’. Her future goals are to continue learning, and to continue volunteering through her Rotary club.

“My husband and I look forward to leaving behind an education legacy through Rotary, which is the creation of an ambassadorial and peace scholarship. We are actively engaging with the youth on a new project at the moment, with my business associate, where we are looking at training youth to become drone pilots in various industry sectors.”

One of Monique’s passions is to support young women in Durban during August, which is Women’s Month. “It’s not difficult to put together business opportunities in a box for young women, so that they can start-up their own small business. That small business could be a greetings card business, it could be a start-up baking business from home, it could be sewing, it could be a knitting project. Buy a table for them at the eThekwini small business fair, it doesn’t cost a lot. Train them on what they can expect when they have people popping into visit them at their stands and see how they will grow themselves as entrepreneurs; thanks to that opportunity you have afforded to them.”

When asked how she strives to make a difference in her business or community, Monique says that is easy for her to answer. “By providing pro bono advice and assistance to small, medium, and micro enterprises throughout KwaZulu-Natal. By connecting those businesses to the larger corporates and demonstrating to them that opportunities exist and that they are not to be discouraged and rather to grab the opportunities with open hands and open minds. In this regard, Monique says that the advice that she would give to any young women, is to give back to the community within which you live and work, volunteer your time, and assist others where possible. Even if you don’t have employment at the outset, ask those that you are volunteering for, to write a letter of reference for you explaining how you’ve helped them and what you did.”

Living her dream

A foodie at heart, Monique lived her dream and 10 years ago, spent three months at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. Monique’s first cookbook comprising 100 recipes and full colour photographs was self-published. Monique gives presentations and food demos all over the country and has spoken at many Rotary Clubs and business organisations.

One of Monique’s favourite presentations is entitled “Mauritius: Two Centuries of Cuisine”, a nod to her birthplace in the Indian Ocean. For each cookbook sold, Monique donates R10 to Rotary Foundation’s #EndPolioNow Campaign.

 

Opportunities for manufacturers and exporters

Researching industry sectors

The global market is constantly changing and evolving. To be successful in exporting, it is important to research industry sectors and understand the latest trends. By doing so, you can identify new opportunities for your products and services. Additionally, it is important to have a good understanding of the competition in each sector and what differentiates your company from others.

Export strategy

Researching industry sectors will also help you develop a well-informed export strategy. You’ll need to consider things such as which countries to target, what distribution channels to use, and how much marketing effort should be put into each market. Exporting can be a lucrative venture but it’s important to do your homework first!

Growing your business through exports There are many reasons to export. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that exporting can help a business grow. When businesses export, they typically find new markets for their products and services, which can lead to increased sales and profits. Additionally, exporting can help businesses become more competitive by making them more efficient and effective in how they produce and sell their products.

New customers = significant business growth

Another reason to export is that it allows businesses to reach new customers who may not be available through domestic markets alone. In some cases, a foreign market may be much larger than the domestic market, providing significant growth potential for a business’ products or services. Additionally, selling products or services in foreign markets exposes companies to new ideas and technologies that they may not have access to otherwise. This helps companies stay ahead of the competition and improve their own operations over time.

Diversify risk through exports Exporting also provides opportunities for businesses to diversify their risk by spreading out their sales across different countries around the world. If one country’s economy weakens or experiences political turmoil, exports elsewhere can help offset any losses sustained by doing business in that one country alone.

B2B the answer to developing stronger trade relationships

Business to business linkages present opportunities for manufacturers and exporters to explore new markets, identify potential business partners, and develop stronger trade relationships. By collaborating with other businesses, manufacturers and exporters can create a global supply chain that allows them to reach new consumers while reducing the risk associated with exporting. There are several ways in which businesses can establish these linkages.

Trade shows and exhibitions

Trade shows provide a venue for companies from all over the world to come together and discuss potential partnerships. Exhibitors have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with buyers from around the globe, learn about new products and services, and form relationships that could lead to future business deals. In order to make the most of this opportunity, it is important for exhibitors to be prepared beforehand by doing research on the attendees and arranging meetings in advance.

B2B specialists identify potential buyers and distributors

When looking to export products, it is important to use a specialist who can help identify and navigate the complex web of export regulations. The specialists have the knowledge and resources necessary to help companies find new markets for their products, as well as connect them with potential buyers and distributors.

B2B specialists have a wealth of experience working with different types of businesses, so they are well-equipped to help companies of all sizes expand into new markets. They also have connections with trade organisations and other professionals in the export industry, which can be invaluable when trying to establish relationships with foreign buyers or distributors.

Advantages of B2B specialist in sourcing export markets

Overall, using a specialist to source export markets is an effective way for companies to expand their business overseas quickly and efficiently. By taking advantage of the resources that these professionals offer, businesses can save time and money while increasing their chances of success in foreign markets.

Challenges, lessons and opportunities

This is the third in a series of articles on Business to Business (B2B) linkages and the theme throughout these articles is access to relevant and verified information.

How do you gain the local knowledge and contacts required to operate effectively in a new market? How do you optimise cost, quality, flexibility and other considerations in the value chain that will lead you to gain a foothold and market share in the new market?

Cost pressure and presence combine to create an interesting set of challenges, lessons and opportunities for firms.

Challenges in B2B Linkages

Without access to reliable information, challenges in securing new markets, new suppliers and new clients could be costly in both time and resources. A B2B specialist takes into consideration whether the size of the market may be too small, whether there is a lack of information on the market products or whether there is poor market accessibility.

Challenges could also emanate from mistakes in selecting the appropriate B2B partner. Informed and careful selection of partners and setting up of proper management systems would make it possible to reduce these challenges dramatically, while maximising the benefits of B2B linkages.

An essential requirement is access to reliable and actionable information to reduce the risks inherent in transacting with companies in a new market. This endeavour can be especially costly in business models involving large numbers of small transactions, for example when sourcing agricultural products from smallholder farms or marketing consumer packaged goods through kiosks or pushcart vendors.

Lessons in B2B Linkages

A tough lesson is that as lifestyles and businesses shift to become climate-friendly, being sustainable is no longer enough. Instead, we understand the importance for brands, companies and communities to work together for a regenerative planet and future.

A dedicated staff or department set up specially for securing new markets for products or services could be a costly operation. Lessons learnt by existing clients is the cost effectiveness of securing the services of a professional with years of experience in B2B linkages when looking to identify potential local or international business partners.

An intermediary such as a B2B specialist can be very effective when companies in the same industry work together, helping to build trust among corporate partners.

OPPORTUNITIES IN B2B LINKAGES

Increased Customer Loyalty

When two or more businesses come together through alliances it often results in loyal customers who appreciate the added value these collaborations bring about such as exclusive deals, special offers etc. Strong customer loyalty is usually one of the key outcomes of successful B2B linkage arrangements.

Enhanced Competitiveness

Collaborating with a partner company can help you become more competitive by giving you access to new technology, ideas, or processes that you may not have otherwise had access to. Additionally, your B2B specialist can identify a partner company which has the necessary resources to help reduce costs associated with research, development, or marketing expenses.

Improved Access to New Markets

When companies work together, they can expose each other’s products and services to new markets that they may not have been able to reach on their own. This expanded market access can result in increased sales and revenue for both businesses involved thanks to the B2B specialist who created the linkage.

Increased Efficiency

By sharing resources and collaborating on projects it is often possible for businesses involved in B2B linkages to achieve efficiencies that would not be possible if working independently. This improved efficiency typically leads to reduced costs which then allows the businesses involved to pass these cost savings onto their customers resulting in better value for money offerings.

A clear business case ensures long-term commitment by the company and has a far greater chance of being sustainable with the advice and information supplied by a B2B specialist. The investment is worth it!

What is your strategic B2B approach?

Like anything in life or in business, you have to put in the time and resources if you wish to reap the benefits.

Don’t focus on the short-term outcomes, rather look to long-term outcomes. In that way you’ll be building sincere value with your clients and find ways to genuinely help your clients, which will build the foundation of your Business 2 Business (B2B) relationships. By taking action and putting in the work to scale, the results will start showing.

Fundamental to B2B is access to networks and information systems to create sustainable linkages. The basis of successful B2B opportunities is accurate and verified information.

Companies undertaking B2B look for integration into new markets and then have the ability to reach new customers. Research the Competition Part of the B2B approach is to analyse new opportunities in your clients’ businesses by better understanding their demographics. Ask questions and do your best to understand everything from their distribution channels to their direct competitors. As many B2B opportunities are the basis for the finding new clients abroad, an analysis of foreign markets and other potential industry sector openings is critical.

Research the competition and determine their best practice. By compiling intelligence reports for the client, you are providing more in-depth content and evidence that in turn will provide the client with accurate information upon which to base their decisions.

Leverage Global Platforms

During the Covid-19 pandemic many businesses moved part of their business online. Travel was limited and shipping and logistics proved to be very expensive. Using digital global platforms is cost effective and pays dividends.

B2B Business Growth Strategy For the B2B sector a growth strategy is a huge area of focus and clients on both ends of the B2B spectrum are seeking to build successful relationships. Having a business growth strategy is key when developing new markets.

The marketing for a growth strategy involves using your already established contact with clients. In order to be effective at achieving upselling and cross selling there are two different areas you need to consider. The one is relationship marketing. If your existing customers aren’t happy, they won’t buy more from you. Marketing, along with other factors such as product quality and customer service have a key role to play in delighting your customers.

Each interaction matters, from a face-to-face meeting, to an email, to a response, to a tweet. Successful businesses are taking advantage of marketing automation technologies to improve customer satisfaction. In order to create successful processes, you need to be able to create highly personalised communication, and highly useful content.

International B2B Networks

A company seeking to find distributors, stockists or resellers in a new market, may find difficulty in tapping into these foreign networks. Language barriers, cultural differences, managing global teams, currency exchange and inflation rates and the nuances of foreign politics, policy and relations all impact the cost of securing new markets. It makes sense when identifying partners to supply goods and services, to collaborate with skilled and experienced B2B firms who have the necessary experience in those countries.

Case Study Success

Managing inward buying missions delivers both exports and imports between regions and countries. By matching the participants of inward buying missions as accurately as possible with distributors, stockists or resellers in the visiting country, the manufacturer of the products or services has a quick grasp of whether the business may be successful.

Understanding the local business environment and knowing who to speak to within the company is crucial to providing the best B2B fit for the client.

The case study of an eyewear manufacturer is a case in point. Monique Labat Consulting was engaged to find new eyewear markets for a manufacturer. Online meetings provided a cost-effective way of determining whether there was potential to do business. The success of this B2B linkage was the first order for eyewear which will now be distributed through the clients’ nationwide group of 48 stores.

Why use B2B linkages?

Implementing a strategy of Business to Business (B2B) linkages has proven to be the solution for many companies seeking to secure new markets, new suppliers or new clients.

Fundamental to B2B is access to networks and information systems to create these sustainable linkages. What forms the basis of successful B2B opportunities is accurate and verified information. Companies undertaking B2B look for integration into new markets and then have the ability to reach new customers.

How does one go about securing leads to grow one’s business? A clever sales technique is to host an educational webinar about your services or products and participate in a buying or selling mission to target hundreds of contacts. This participation can develop into hundreds of valuable business relationships.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Capturing the content and recording the responses in the form of a customer relationship marketing database across the company means that at all levels of sales, marketing and management, the content is readily shared within the company. This database proves to be a great time saver.

B2B Databases

When creating researched databases be mindful to comply with The Protection of Personal Information Act 4 Of 2013 (“POPIA”). What B2B needs to deliver is access to local supplier and distributor networks. This entails contact verification, data mining and company profiling. To undertake B2B successfully ensure you find the key contact person and start building the B2B relationship. This involves researching and verifying the contact details of the leads and then you can conduct the initial qualification.

International B2B Networks

A company seeking to find distributors, stockists, or resellers in a new market, may find difficulty in tapping into these foreign networks. Language barriers, cultural differences, managing global teams, currency exchange and inflation rates and the nuances of foreign politics, policy and relations all impact the cost of securing new markets.

It makes sense when identifying partners to supply goods and services, to collaborate with skilled and experienced B2B firms who have the necessary experience in those countries.

B2B Matchmaking

For local businesses, connecting with one business can open up the way to future opportunities and help the local market integrate into a global supply chain. Business matchmaking can help facilitate and speed up this process.

Business matchmaking services help connect national and international buyers looking for goods and services with verified local businesses. Business matchmaking is an active approach of establishing contracts between international buyers and local suppliers. Both parties are able to identify the needs of the buyer and the capacities of the supplier.

B2B interventions include site visits, vendor promotion events, product sample collecting and networking events between buyers and suppliers. Inward buying missions arranged for importers or manufacturers have specific objectives. This begins the business conversation in a targeted manner resulting in exports of locally manufactured goods and services.

Virtual B2B Matchmaking

During Covid-19 many of these exhibitions and trade fairs have been undertaken online. Extensive growth in e-commerce and online B2B matchmaking has demonstrated that connecting buyers to suppliers virtually is successful.

Promoting B2B market linkages is an excellent strategy to make long-term investments develop into new business. B2B requires ongoing communication and will have long-lasting effects, which will promote your business growth. As B2B successes are made known, it will be easier to include more local manufacturers and buyers in the process.

Case Study Success

Monique Labat Consulting successfully manages inward buying missions. French companies from Reunion Island were asked to outline their objectives which had to be met for the inward buying mission’s success. The B2B matchmaking was facilitated. Manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) were invited to meet with the French companies. A B2B deal was signed and FMCG products manufactured in Durban are regularly exported to Reunion Island.

Global business comes with unique challenges but creates opportunity for excellent company growth. To prepare for challenges, follow foreign politics, use experienced B2B firms to prepare for today’s nuanced and interconnected business world.

Catch Monique Labat live 18th Nov 6.30pm Standard Bank KZN Top Business Women 2021 Gala Dinner

Founder of Monique Labat Consulting Monique was born in Mauritius and holds dual citizenship, Mauritian and South African.

A career spanning the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the City of Durban’s Investment Promotion Agency as well as Tradepoint South Africa Durban has meant extensive international and local travel promoting Durban as an investment location.

In August 2011, Monique established her company, (Pty) Ltd to provide valuable specialist skills to both public and private sector clients. Monique consults to local and international clients on Market Linkages and Business 2 Business opportunities, co-ordinates detailed programmes and itineraries for international trade, investment and inward buying delegations and compiles market intelligence reports for multiple industry sectors.

An active Rotarian, Monique volunteers her time and resources to assist communities within the greater Durban area. Monique’s core values are in line with Rotary’s motto, “Service above self”.

POST- COVID-19 L’Express Media Article

Rethinking the strategy Mauritius-Africa for a new economic partnership

The economic consequences of Covid-19 opens up new opportunities of doing business in Africa and is redefining Mauritius’ Africa strategy. This, essentially, is what emerged from a webinar organised by Mon Trésor Ltd, a subsidiary of the group Omnicane. This online conference united a group of specialists to address the issue. The identified channels went from global business to digitalisation, encompassing the manufacturing sector and the agro-industry sector.

Jacques d’Unienville, Director of Omnicane, was emphatic: the situation post Covid-19 signals a new strategy, a new way of thinking which will benefit both local and regional markets.  Thus, food security, energy and health sectors, he said, should translate as a matter of urgency in the wake of this crisis, to swiftly manufacture for the domestic market whilst simultaneously adding value.

The Group’s involvement in property development and the logistics of the freeport, heralded a new context which required a rethinking of Omnicane’s projects in this part of the country advised Jacques d’Unienville. He underlined the importance of the Freeport as a dynamic sector, embracing a turnover of US$ 1 billion. Omnicane has also extended an invitation to regional partners to accompany the Group in their new projects. «We would like to opt for high value-add products, whilst leaning on regional brands», emphasised Jacques d’Unienville.

The interim CEO of the Economic Development Board, Ken Poonoosamy asserted that with the arrival of the confinement, the importance of digilitisation as a future niche for operators seeking commercial opportunities in Africa was advantageous. He indicated that Mauritius, to this end, has developed a «cloud computing» platform destined to serve the continent. Conscious of the necessity of developing the pharmaceutical sector following the effect of the health pandemic, Ken Poonoosamy affirmed his conviction to see Mauritius position itself to take advantage of the vast regional market.

Faced with numerous challenges which confront global business today, the Mauritian jurisdiction has all the necessary tools to succeed. This was the view of Sridhar Nagarajan, Regional Managing Director  of IQ-EQ, ex-Cim Global. He insisted that the authorities multiply their initiatives to extricate Mauritius from the European Union’s black list and the Financial Action Group’s grey list.

This webinar, which was chaired by Amedée Darga, allowed other presenters to outline the economic partnership between Mauritius and Africa, namely Lilowtee Rajmun-Jooseery, Director of MEXA; Dr McLean Sibanda, Director of Bigen Global Ltd, and Monique Labat, of Monique Labat Consulting (Pty) Ltd.

Villen ANGANAN

B2B Business Linkages to grow your business

As a long standing member of the Durban Chamber, am thankful to the Chamber for keeping my company informed and aware of developments necessary for COVID19. Business networks have never been more important.

If you’re looking for B2B opportunities to continue growing your business during these difficult times, please get in touch.

 

With Brett Nadasen of Finfind and Njabulo Msomi of SMEasy