IN acknowledgment of the call by government to boost local manufacturing and job creation, Dis-Chem is working in close collaboration with the Department of Small Business Development in a national drive to stock more locally produced retail goods.
The initial goal is for major retailers, such as Dis-Chem, to stock about 400 locally produced items, in time rising to over 2 000, as part of a national strategy to grow manufacturing locally.
This comes at a time when many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in desperate need of life support during the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent economic lockdowns. The sector remains vital to South Africa’s recovery, notwithstanding growing numbers of liquidations. A Bureau of Economic Research study estimates the number of SMEs to be in the region of 2.2-million. These contribute considerably to the South African economy and create over 11 million jobs.
Estimates vary widely, because even without a crisis such as the pandemic, between 70% and 80% of start-up businesses typically fail within two years. Such numbers are staggering and tell a tale of the need for support to ensure more businesses survive and create employment.
“We have a long tradition of celebrating those pioneers who dream big and do whatever is needed to bring an idea to fruition. Dis-Chem started as a small business with one store, so we understand what it takes to grow an organisation. As a company that supports businesses, we support and mentor entrepreneurs and we are fortunate to have partnered with some small businesses that have grown significantly in recent years,” says Saul Saltzman, executive director at Dis-Chem.
“We are both gratified and excited that we can tell the real stories of everyday South African business owners. Through them we hope to educate, empower, and inspire more entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams, and ultimately contribute to the development of our country.”
Dis-Chem is renowned for its health products, a category that has grown in recent years through support of small suppliers whose products are ideally suited to Dis-Chem’s range and meets their quality criteria.
“From a commercial perspective Gauteng-based, True Earth, manufacturers of gluten free cereals and snacks, was given an opportunity to launch its products with us and grow their business,” says Saltzman. Dis-Chem provided guidance to Nokwanda Shabalala, founder of True Earth, on the typical manufacturing standards expected by a firm like Dis-Chem, and assisted her to select the correct manufacturing partners.
Gauteng-based Irene’s Gourmet has been a growing supplier of quality vegan products with a focus on high nutrition and ethically sourced ingredients. The business has been a supplier to Dis-Chem for the past five years.
Sion Venter, director of Usisi Brands in Cape Town has developed a variety of food herbs and spices targeting people looking for healthy alternatives which are sugar-free, non-irradiated, msg-free and contain no other fillers. Usisi has largely targeted the uniquely ethnic market, but as a healthy alternative to what is already available.
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