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What we're talking about...

Big business collaboration with smaller business

In a report commissioned by Fujitsu 58% of SMEs believe that small and large suppliers should work together to win business.

But such collaboration is not commonplace. 45% of SMEs (in the Fujitsu report) say that collaboration with larger firms rarely or never happens.

31% of Trading for Good members supply to FTSE 250 companies. And they believe it strengthens their own business to partner with larger business.

Why is such collaboration between large and small powerful?

Smaller businesses are well placed to be agile and can move quickly to provide a climate for innovation and creativity. Larger businesses often have the corporate machinery needed to win large contracts from both the public and private sectors and then have the infrastructure and finances needed to do the heavy lifting needed for larger scale complex programmes and operations. Smaller business can often mitigate their own risks if they partner with larger business. Larger business can demonstrate their commitment to local communities if they can point to a supply chain that supports smaller firms.

A partnership with a large business gives the smaller partner credibility and helps build trust in a brand. And of course let us not forget that most big businesses started out as a small entrepreneur with a great idea.

Britain needs to continue to achieve economic growth and much is written about SMEs being the backbone of the economy. And indeed with over 4 million smaller business employing 14 million people its tempting to place an over reliance on this statistic.

I believe growth will come from more innovative ways of working with larger businesses taking a more transparent and open way of working with smaller firms.

Large companies can help smaller companies (and 3rd sector organisations for that matter) in so many ways, providing access to their many programmes such as on-boarding apprentices, prompt payment schemes to get their cash in days not weeks or months, space, marketing support and access to expert advice.

I believe large business should look to showcase fresh ideas, open up their supply chains to find ways of giving young and local companies more opportunity to grow their business.

That’s why at Fujitsu we are embarking on a series of meet the buyer events and looking to see how we can offer our expertise and scale to help support smaller business.

Fujitsu was the first business to partner with Trading for Good to pilot a supply chain social value report. This report looked at the social value being created by the smaller businesses in our supply chain. The data has given us a greater insight into the added value we as a large business help to foster and support.

A practical example of this is knowing how much effort is being put into creating work for younger people in smaller businesses – this has helped to trigger our thinking into what else we can do to help create apprenticeships in our supply chain.

As Chief Operating Officer at Fujitsu its my job to make sure our business responsibility doesn’t just stop at our front door but extends down our supply chain and out into the communities where we work.

As 2014 begins I urge big business to ensure that their supply chains are supported in a new era of collaboration.

You can read more on Fujitsu here Fujitsu Collaboration Nation Report

Gavin Bounds
About the Author

Gavin Bounds

Chief Operating Officer at Fujitsu UK & Ireland

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