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Landing local suppliers on our shelves

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More and more local brands are being listed and sold in Massmart stores as the supplier development programme gains traction. The focus on growing black – owned small and medium – sized enterprises (SMEs) and introducing them into Massmart’s supply chain is starting to pay off.

Sherry – Lee Singh, Massmart’s Supplier Development Manager says: “We have helped list 162 smallholder farmers, 19 developing wine brands, and 5 SME manufacturing suppliers whose product range includes paint, adhesives, pottery and cosmetics. Consumers are also starting to gain awareness of these products and slowly choosing to purchase them over their usual brands.”

One participant in the programme is entrepreneur, Angela Chris Pitsi, who owns adhesives and sealants manufacturing company XChem Chemicals . Angela always knew she wanted to be in manufacturing and in 2006 she jumped at the opportunity to buy a struggling detergent manufacturing company when it came up for sale . “I didn’t have a clear idea of exactly what I wanted to manufacture, I just knew I wanted to be in manufacturing,” she says. At first Angela supplied five Builders Warehouse stores where her products successfully sold out. By the end of November this yea r Angela’s products will be sold at Builders Warehouse stores nationally.

Vusi Silora, CEO of Bio Lotion, has an entrepreneurial spirit. He started out as a business consultant for a large health insurance company in South Africa where he learnt a lot about innovative business strategies . A fter working part time for an America n biochemist Vusi started to become passionate about starting his own business . He resigned and took his life savings to start a panel beating business in Alexandra. After one year he sold this business and started researching skin care products and in October 2010 he registered the trademark Bio Lotion Cosmetics. “We have developed a powerful body lotion for stretch marks, scars, wrinkles and uneven skin tone with the help of a specialist cosmetics contract manufacturer in South Africa which currently produces for leading companies,” he says

“It wasn’t easy to introduce our prod ucts into the market place because as a new entrant you get blocked by the dominance of the few giants. We couldn’t have achieved this without the help of Massmart’s Supplier Development Fund,” he says. The fund has assisted Bio Lotion with listing their products in Ma ssmart stores including Makro , Game and seven Jumbo Cash & Carry stores. The company is currently developing another line called Bio Baby and are looking into a range of hair products.

Access to market continues to be one of the biggest challenges smallholder farmers face in South Africa. Kobela Mokgohloa owns Korema Farm, in Winterveld, where he has been farming since 2009. “I am a pilot by profession but independence and entrepreneurship suited me better,” he says. He has been working with Massmart since 2012 and, “besides access to marke t,” he says, “they’ve given me access to interest – free financial support. Massmart is very flexible, when you’re starting off, and this is ideal. You don’t want to have targets that you know you can’t meet and Massmart understands this. Massmart is a grow ing business and I’d love to grow under their wing.”

He currently employs 15 permanent staff and 22 when it’s picking season. Since supplying produce (cucumbers and peppers) into Fruitspot, Kobela has managed to expand his farming business from 7 tunnels to 14 tunnels in production.

Sherry-Lee says she has also learnt lessons along the way. “Choosing the right supplier is critical and making the effort to keep in contact and visiting them is very important. Maintaining strong relationships with our buyers is also vital.”

Massmart is currently working on labelling to make our customers aware of these products so they too can contribute to growing local businesses. Look out for the stickers on the bottles of our black – owned developing wine brands and soon other locally manufactured products.

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