As the country battles the Coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on lives and livelihoods, a company in the west of Johannesburg found a silver lining in the crisis.
Protective clothing manufacturer, Pello Yabasadi Business Enterprise was jolted into action by the health crisis and received an opportunity when South Africa’s leading construction materials producer, AfriSam placed an order of thousands of masks for its workforce. This was a profitable contract for a small manufacturer that was facing despair due to the lockdown and the subsequent slowing business activity.
Creating opportunities for entrepreneurs
AfriSam prioritizes local entrepreneurs and always try to create concrete opportunities for them, their businesses, and the society at large. When the COVID-19 outbreak began in March, the company came up with a strategy to turn this problematic situation into an opportunity.
According to government regulations it is a requirement for every individual to wear a face mask. AfriSam got in touch with Tumi Phooko, the owner of Pello Yabasadi Business
Enterprise, a woman-led company in the health and safety sector and placed an order of 5000 face masks for its workforce. Pello Yabasadi Business Enterprise is a beneficiary of AfriSam’s Enterprise and Supplier Development programme and the company wanted to use this opportunity to create an additional revenue stream for this enterprise.
“When I received the order from AfriSam, I was a bit overwhelmed because my company had never received an order of such a large quantity of products” says Phooko. The entrepreneur is a beneficiary who received business development training and mentorship from AfriSam’s Business Development Centre and graduated in 2018.
Supporting business during lockdown
Not only did AfriSam support this entrepreneur through the order of masks, the company also assisted the business to acquire a permit to conduct business during the lockdown period. In addition, AfriSam provided capital as part of its Supplier Development Programme to purchase some material which could also be used to supply masks to other customers.
AfriSam’s national procurement manager, Zunaid Rasdien, says the Pello Yabasadi Enterprise project was part of the company’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through provision of health protocol compliant products.
Pello Yabasadi Enterprise produces quality corporate clothing, uniforms, protective gear, safety shoes and now face masks and has been in operation for five years. “Samples of her products were tested and passed our safety quality control measures, enabling us to trust her masks to protect our workforce during this pandemic.” Rasdien adds.
Female owned businesses
In South Africa, women have been previously disadvantaged, marginalised and still find it extremely hard to secure tenders, contracts, good jobs or at least earn the same wages as their male counterparts. Unemployment remains high and the gap between the employment of men and women is exceedingly high.
Prior to the order of 5000 masks, AfriSam had provided support to Pello Yabasadi in 2019 by purchasing an embroidery machine at an interest free loan as acquiring funds remains a big challenge, especially for small businesses.
“The machine that AfriSam purchased for us enables us to do more beautifully branded products, quicker, something that we were not able to do before. This is certainly a game changer for us, and we are grateful for it,” Phooko concludes.
Over the years, AfriSam has been working to bridge the employment gap and empower entrepreneurs, especially women from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as those near their operations. The company has initiated several projects to uplift disadvantaged local communities.
During this difficult time, AfriSam will continue to adhere and support government’s lockdown laws, regulations, and initiatives to fight the outbreak and will carry on empowering local entrepreneurs where they can. “It is AfriSam’s desire to see more of the company’s enterprise development beneficiaries receiving continuous business support as part of their growth,” Rasdien concludes.