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High achievers: winners of the 2021 Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards in Johannesburg earlier this month. Picture: SUPPLIED
High achievers: winners of the 2021 Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards in Johannesburg earlier this month. Picture: SUPPLIED

The winners of the fourth annual Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards were announced at a hybrid event held in Johannesburg on November 18.

The awards, presented in partnership with Arena Holdings, Fetola and Cold Press Media, recognise companies that are making significant strides in terms of their supplier development initiatives. 

They also acknowledge corporates that open access to markets, empower small and medium-sized enterprises, foster learning, build a community of best practice and encourage collaboration in their industries and in the communities where they operate.  

The awards programme is aimed at corporates, parastatals and government institutions with an annual turnover above R50m that implement programmes within their own supply chains to transform the supplier development landscape.

“At Absa, we are particularly pleased that since their launch in 2018, the Supplier Development Awards have grown significantly — in their importance, the number of participants and, more importantly, their impact,” said Vusi Fele, chief procurement officer at Absa Group, at the event held at The Empire Conference and Events Venue.

“The awards have truly come of age and continue to mature each and every year,” he said. “It is critical now more than ever for corporates in both the public and private sectors to use their supply chains to help develop and grow small suppliers, who are the real drivers of economic growth and job creation.” 

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and July riots in SA this year, the nationwide call for applications resulted in 117 awards entries from a range of participants. A shortlist of 55 applicants was compiled by a specialist advisory panel. 

“The increased interest from companies wanting to be part of the learning ecosystem and the high quality of this year’s finalists indicate that supplier development is becoming recognised as a valuable strategic lever to drive inclusive growth,” said Catherine Wijnberg, CEO of Fetola, a founding partner and the technical lead of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards. 

The expertise of the advisory panel helped refine this year’s winners. These key influencers in supplier development and sustainability helped ensure that the awards continue to lead the sector. They included:

  • Bridget Fury: head, Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies
  • Lisa Parkes: deputy director: Cape Catalyst, Western Cape government 
  • Lloyd Macfarlane: managing partner, GSA Campbell
  • Mamosa Motjope: MD, Wamobu Consulting
  • Sekai Chiwandamira: regional chapter manager: SA, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

The awards focus on supplier development strategy, projects, initiatives and integrated plans within the supply chain of a corporate or government entity. Applicants are submitted to an initial screening to pre-qualify and then submit a comprehensive application. 

Fifteen organisations that clearly demonstrated excellence “beyond the scorecard” were selected as finalists and invited to substantiate their application and answer the judges’ hard-hitting questions. 

The judging process is made public so that lessons can be learned and best practice shared. All results are also benchmarked for year-on-year comparison and collated in an annual report available on the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards website, to ensure access to the latest information on supplier development practices in SA and beyond. 


The judges 

The judges looked for winners that were committed to building a thriving, transformative and inclusive supply chain; embraced supplier development as a strategic priority and a driver of competitive advantage; fostered cross-sectoral and industry collaboration with diverse stakeholders; and demonstrated quantifiable impact by committing to best practice in this ecosystem.

The 2021 judges included:

  • Ajay Kanjee: financial director, Henley Business School Africa
  • Catherine Wijnberg: CEO, Fetola, and founding partner of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards
  • Christian Kabongo: project manager, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)
  • David Mparutsa: head: enterprise and supplier development (ex SA), Absa Group
  • Rethabile Melamu: general manager: green economy, The Innovation Hub
  • Elmarie Goosen: founder, Clinic with Purpose
  • Nosipho Khonkwane: MD, LEAP Enterprise Development
  • Mamosa Motjope: MD, Wamobu Consulting
  • Michal Pillay: senior manager: supplier diversity, Absa Group
  • Sekai Chiwandamira: regional chapter manager: SA, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
  • Vusi Fele: chief procurement officer, Absa Group

The winners

The 2021 results were audited by BDO SA. The winners were:  

The Newcomer Award acknowledges companies that have recently initiated a new and successful strategic supplier development programme or project.  

Winner: Uyandiswa Project Management Services

The Innovation Award acknowledges companies that have shown creativity and merit in design thinking and innovation in their commitment to catalyse small supplier success.  

Winner: V&A Waterfront

The Youth Focus Award, sponsored by Absa, acknowledges companies that are achieving exceptional results in supporting the success of youth-led small suppliers.  

Winner: Anglo American Zimele

The Women Focus Award, sponsored by Cold Press Media, acknowledges companies that are achieving exceptional results in supporting the success of women-owned small suppliers.

Winner: Empact Group

The Rural and Township Focus Award acknowledges companies that have achieved exceptional results in supporting the success of rural and township-based small suppliers. 

Winner: Spar

The Localisation Award acknowledges companies that have successfully supported local small suppliers that have notable import-substitution and/or export-market potential.  

Winner: Empact Group

The Emerging Technology Supplier Award acknowledges initiatives that are achieving exceptional results in supporting technology-related small suppliers, or in using technology as an effective tool to support small suppliers.  

Winner: Exxaro Resources

The Covid-19 Recovery Award (a special 2021 award) acknowledges companies that implemented innovative and impactful strategies to ensure supplier development resilience during the 2020—21 Covid-19 pandemic.  

Winner: Distell

The Collaboration Award, sponsored by Fetola, acknowledges companies for their strategic action to develop industry relationships and foster cross-sector collaboration for the benefit of the wider ecosystem.  

Winner: Tiger Brands

The Impact Award acknowledges a company whose supplier development initiatives have been shown to have a substantial impact on the value chain and provided evidence of the scale of the impact. 

Winner: Anglo American Zimele

The Small Supplier Award, sponsored by the IDC, acknowledges a small supplier, nominated by their corporate supplier development partner, that has excelled in accelerating its own and its clients’ success. 

Winner: Stellar Agri nominated by Distell

The Outstanding Growth in a Small Supplier Award (special award) acknowledges small suppliers nominated by a corporate supplier development partner that have accelerated their own growth to an annual turnover of more than R50m.

Winner: MB Resources, nominated by Exxaro Resources

The overall winner, sponsored by Absa, is the company that stands out as the leader in supplier development in SA and will be an ambassador for the awards in 2022. 

Winner: Tiger Brands


African focus

For the first time since their inception, the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards were extended to include nominations from sub-Saharan Africa to inspire African companies to join the supplier development ecosystem and participate in the awards:

Judges’ African Recognition for Commitment to Economic Empowerment across the Supply Chain

Awarded to Debswana (Botswana)

Judges’ African Recognition for Commitment to Women Inclusion in the Supply Chain

Awarded to Safaricom (Kenya)

 Judges’ African Recognition for Commitment to Localisation of the Supply Chain 

Awarded to Tullow Oil (Ghana)

Judges’ African Recognition for Commitment to Pioneering Supplier Development

Awarded to Vodacom (Mozambique)


Digital Dialogues

Like many similar initiatives over the past 18 months, the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards had to adapt during the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This gave rise to an ongoing and well-attended series of interactive online discussions with a panel of specialists hosted by Joanne Joseph. 

These Digital Dialogues have addressed issues related to supplier development, such as access to finance, job creation and ethics in the supply chain.  

For those who missed the discussions, the recordings can be found here.   

Insider Track series 

A new initiative this year is the Insider Track series of workshops, an ecosystem-building platform linked to an exclusive and growing community of procurement and supplier development professionals. Interactive online workshops have showcased specialists and inspirational supplier development stories to share both the corporate and small-business perspective with commentary provided by panellists and the insiders themselves. 

Click here to find out more about the Digital Dialogues, Insider Track workshops or express your interest in participating in the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards in 2022.

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