In a perfect world, there would be no poverty, unemployment or wealth gap. Our reality is far different. SA has one of the most unequal societies in the world. More than 50% of the population lives on less than R1,000 a month and 27% are unemployed. It has been touted that by 2030, small businesses will be responsible for creating 90% of jobs in SA.

But even with annual spending of R32bn on enterprise development, three out of four businesses fail within the first few years and just 10% will be around for more than a decade.

Unless we stimulate the economy and create real opportunities for small, black-owned businesses to enter the market, we are in real trouble. Couple that with the country’s shrinking customer base and it is clear we need to do more to have a lasting impact.

Supplier development – when coupled with stronger industry networks and a long-term view on supporting the growth of small suppliers – results in competitive advantage and a better future for all
Catherine Wijnberg

More businesses need to move beyond the legal imperative and realise they have a corporate and social responsibility to transform their supply chain. More businesses need to diversify procurement and initiate real enterprise and supplier development.

Businesses also need to realise that not every business is ready for the aggressive demands of a supply chain and that supplier development must be a hand-in-hand journey where big business and small and medium-sized enterprises work together towards a common goal.

One woman who understands the “together is better” approach is Catherine Wijnberg, CEO and founder of Fetola, a business development company. She is an advocate of economic transformation through small businesses and supplier development.

“Supplier development is a way to build future strategic advantage and, when coupled with stronger industry networks and a long-term view on supporting the successful growth of small suppliers, this results in competitive advantage and a better future for all,” says Wijnberg.

Supplier development is not easy. It has become a tedious tick-box exercise, with money spent on ineffective programmes.

Wijnberg championed the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards Programme in partnership with Cold Press Media and Tiso Blackstar Group last year to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary steps companies have taken to build diverse and thriving supply chains.

The awards aim to recognise companies that are doing it right and showcase winners that have had a profound effect in this area, moving beyond the scorecard and showing return on investment far exceeding the cost of seeing black economic empowerment as yet another tax.

Last year, Massmart, Hatch Africa, Reapso and Sappi won awards for their innovative and bold solutions. These companies stood out because they made supplier development part of their company culture and long-term strategy. In this way, both suppliers and corporate have a vested interest in the success of their long-term relationship.

They realised that suppliers were integral to their success. With clear, focused and well-delivered programmes, they take a long-term view of these commercially valuable relationships that generate genuine opportunity both for the corporate and for the small supplier.

Wijnberg believes that to transform and build a resilient economy and future-proof our country, collaboration is an essential ingredient in any supplier development strategy. By building a strong ecosystem, the results of true economic transformation will be felt by generations to come.

“For this reason, the awards offer more value than just the winner’s podium but also give delegates the opportunity to learn from one another, build partnerships and network with those leading the way in this field,” she adds.

Indeed, many South African businesses recognise that supplier development is a rapidly evolving space and a mechanism for the advancement of inclusive growth. They realise that skills transfer, mentoring and market access are essential elements to building capacity and that relationships and collaboration are key. After all, successful businesses thrive on successful partnerships - because regardless of the size, you do business with people.

About the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards 

The Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards are presented in partnership with Fetola, Cold Press Media and Tiso Blackstar Group. The awards recognise excellence in supplier development; shine a light on big businesses that deserve credit for their efforts in building a transformed and diverse supply chain; and encourage industry collaboration.

Aside from a place on the winner’s podium, applicants gain access to an annual benchmark report, a link to valuable peer networks and can engage those leading the field. Last year the awards attracted more than 400 applicants across sectors and showcased a high calibre of winners.

Visit the website to see the 2018 categories and winners.