SDI helps get South African micro-suppliers back to work
The road to recovery for South African businesses will be a long and difficult one, especially for the small players. In a remarkable effort to help alleviate these pressures and assist micro-suppliers with getting back on their feet, Supplier Development Initiatives (SDI) will, in partnership with FNB, hand over eighteen vehicles to individuals who run micro businesses as part of SweepSouth and Loadit, as well Bolt e-hailing drivers. Not only will the vehicles enable these micro-suppliers to keep their small businesses going, they will assist with growth and expansion, giving them the opportunity to earn an income, contribute meaningfully to the economy and uplift themselves.
This SDI initiative aims to put small businesses and micro-suppliers back to work, and help keep their families and communities alive. These vehicles, purchased through FNB funding, will be donated free-of-charge to micro-suppliers from each organisation that have a professional, proven track record. All they will need to do is arrange their own insurance. It’s a move that will fundamentally change the lives of these individuals and their businesses. With unemployment on the rise, initiatives like this contribute to economic stability by creating self-employment opportunities.
SDI, an existing service-on-demand platform, has built its model around supporting and enabling micro-suppliers in multiple industries, giving them access to greater business opportunities. “We have always championed the little guys,” explains Andile Ramaphosa, SDI Co-Founder. “And in the current economic climate we’re ramping up our efforts to ensure that they don’t fall through the cracks.” The handover event, a small affair for less than 50 people taking place on Friday the 3rd of July, will be called Rishume Day, a Venda phrase meaning “let’s work to make things work.” The Katherine Street Bridge in Sandton has been chosen as a symbolic venue, as it acts as a connecting point between big corporates and the smaller businesses in neighbouring Alexandra.
Brad Fisher, Co-Founder of SDI, has a long history of developing projects that connect different aspects of business and society with local government, all for the greater good. “One of the key drivers for economic and societal change is developing bridges between the established and informal business sectors,” explains Fisher. “This is something I have personally been involved with for years, and so the site of the handover is of deep significance, as it truly represents the coming together of these two worlds.”
This initiative would not have been possible without generous funding from FNB. A portion of the bank’s R8 million donation has gone into hard assets such as these vehicles, helping to achieve the project’s main objective of giving these individuals the opportunity to grow their businesses without having to worry about monthly car repayments. “FNB is committed to helping small businesses grow,” says Heather Lowe, Head of SME Development at FNB Business. “As such, we are proud to partner with SDI for an initiative that will assist high-performing individuals in reaching their true potential. These are trying times for us as South Africans, and every life we can help influence for the better goes a long way to achieving economic recovery.”
SDI aims to be both a guiding light and helping hand to micro-suppliers during these tough times, assisting them to rebuild and revive. SDI has partnered with enablers like cleaning service SweepSouth, delivery and moving service Loadit, and e-hailing platform Bolt, because these companies have similar business models, and share the same commitment to keeping micro-suppliers employed. In SweepSouth’s case, SDI’s assistance – in the form of vehicle donations and PPE kits – has helped the company and its contractors branch out into the business market. SweepStars are being trained as disinfectors, up-skilling them and equipping them to help fight Covid-19. By owning their own cars, Bolt e-hailing drivers will enjoy real business growth, and Loadit contractors will be able to open their own logistics businesses now that they have their own transport and access to market.
FNB, in collaboration with SDI, Bridge Taxi Finance, The City of Johannesburg and micro-suppliers from SweepSouth, Loadit and WastePreneurs, are also helping implement Safe-Passage-to-Work / School, an initiative that tailor-fits taxis with protective measures to ensure that they are Covid-compliant. With close to 80% of South Africa’s workforce and scholars using taxi services, their safety is of national importance, especially given that commuting has been internationally recognised as the single most infectious space for the spread of Covid-19.
Five micro-suppliers from SweepSouth will receive BAIC D20 Hatchbacks, two from Loadit will receive JAC 3-tonne trucks, and 10 from Bolt will receive BAIC D20 Sedans. The D20 range of models are cost effective mobility options ideal for first-time buyers, families and businesses, offering a combination of style, comfort and features to SA buyers. Chinese-owned motor manufacturer, BAIC, a company with over half a century of experience, has generously given discounts on their vehicles to enable this project. Although new to the country, BAIC has started manufacturing in South Africa, and has aligned with SDI in the territory.
“This wonderfully generous donation by SDI to these five SweepStars comes at a critical juncture," says Aisha Pandor, the Managing Director of SweepSouth. “Even though we have been supporting SweepStars through the SweepSouth Covid-19 SweepStar Fund, many domestic workers have been hard hit by lockdown. The recipients of these vehicles all work for the government-approved SweepSouth Business Sanitisation service, and in addition to the potential for increased earnings, this huge opportunity to up-skill will make a profound difference to their lives.”
“Thank you to SDI and FNB for their fantastic donations to Loadit micro-suppliers,” says John Greenland, CEO of Loadit. “Our guys have had a very difficult time during lockdown, and as we emerge from it, every bit of assistance goes a long way to ensuring that they can continue to put food on the table. We see this project as a massive contributor, both to these individuals and to broader society. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
“e-hailing has enabled entrepreneurship opportunities for more than ten thousand drivers that use the Bolt platform to earn an income,” says Gareth Taylor, country manager for Bolt in South Africa. “Thanks to this partnership between SDI and FNB the recipients of these vehicles are now empowered - as owner operators and small businesses in their own right - to reduce their costs and increase the sustainable earnings that they take home to support their families.”
These initiatives are just a few of the many that SDI will be implementing across South Africa, working with big business to help repair our economy through ongoing grass roots supplier development. Businesses are urged to get involved and effectively utilise their ESD spend, and in so doing contribute to a future that is more prosperous for us all.
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