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  • Writer's pictureAndile Khumalo

Sanlam and SANParks Launch R10 Million SMME Support Programme

The Sanlam Group and South African National Parks (SANParks) today launched a R10 million programme to provide access to market, finance and business development support to SMMEs from communities surrounding South Africa’s major national parks.

The goal of the Sanlam SANParks SMME Support Programme is to create sustainable businesses by providing supply chain finance at the lowest cost possible.

At the launch event held in the Kruger National Park, on the date that the United Nations declared Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, Sanlam and SANParks said South Africa’s major parks contribute around R3 billion to the economy annually, creating and retaining jobs in the small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMME) sector.

Focused initially on the Kruger National Park – one of the largest National Parks in Africa – the programme aims to impact targeted SMMEs as identified in the SANParks overall supply management plan and will run for a one-year period.

The programme will offer short-term working capital through interest-free loans to SMMEs with whom SANParks can procure goods and services in and around the Kruger National Park. Sanlam, Africa’s largest non-banking financial services group, will contribute, as part of its pilot programme, R10 million in loan support, and development support will be implemented by I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR (IAAE), a leading enterprise development agency experienced in helping entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses.

The programme aims to create sustainable SMMEs with the capability to deliver goods and services to SANParks, thereby preserving and potentially contributing to job creation in and around the Kruger National Park.

Karl Socikwa, Group Executive: Market Development & Sustainability at Sanlam, said this is an example of the Group’s deep commitment to sustainable growth on the African continent. “Our purpose is to empower generations of Africans to be financially confident, secure, and prosperous. SMMEs are critical to the South African economy, they’re a major lever for growth. In fact, the National Development Plan forecasts SMMEs will create 90% of the 11 million new jobs our country desperately needs. This will not happen unless we, as part of South Africa’s corporate community, play our part.

Karl Socikwa, Group Executive: Market Development & Sustainability at Sanlam “The Sanlam Group is deeply committed to driving the development and growth of the South African economy. Our impact journey is not a new one – we’ve been committed to investing in communities and the environment for more than 100 years. Our parks are a pivotal part of our nation, and we need to treasure them – and the universe of people responsible for their maintenance and upkeep. We know many of these SMMEs have been severely impacted by the pandemic. We are delighted to partner with SANParks to offer vital financial and business development support to help these businesses thrive.”

He adds, “SMMEs are imperative for economic recovery and growth in all the markets in which we operate, and, within the context of our country’s unprecedented unemployment rate, they are a key catalyst in the creation and preservation of jobs.”

For SANParks, the programme forms part of a broader strategy to uplift SMMEs in the communities surrounding its parks. The organisation aims to secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development. A socio-economic transformation strategy whose vision is to initiate, facilitate, coordinate, catalyse and implement an integrated socio-economic development programme for the just and equitable benefit of current and future generations, has been formulated and this is one part of implementing the long-term strategy.

The Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, Hapiloe Sello, expressed her appreciation to Sanlam for the business development support initiatives saying, “Our incubation programme has yielded a group of young, determined entrepreneurs who have shown eagerness to transact with the park and to promote rural economic development. As an organisation, we buy services and goods and have always been ready to transact with our neighbouring communities. We are excited that the Board has endorsed this proposal and look forward to witnessing the empowerment of our rural communities” concluded Sello.

SANParks, through the SET unit, has embarked on Economic Transformation Roadshows to present available opportunities at various national parks, to local enterprises and suppliers. To date, three roadshows have been conducted, namely at the Kruger National Park – where 660 local businesses attended, in the Garden Route – which saw an attendance of 500 people, and at the Addo National Park where 300 were in attendance. The last roadshow for the year will be held in the Western Cape in October. All these initiatives form part of our biodiversity transformation agenda and are supported through different signed MOAs with our national public strategic partners.

Creating access to economic opportunities is a key pillar of the Sanlam socio-economic transformation strategy. Over the past few years, we have purposefully focused our energy on supporting the SMME sector. Some of the key SMME areas of impact include 2,964 jobs supported through the Sanlam Group’s ESD programme, the creation of 614 jobs, and R23 million spent on the development of SMMEs in our value chain. Sanlam’s procurement spend on SMEs in 2022 amounted to R4.4 billion and the Group invested R205 million in loan funding to black-owned SMEs.

Further to the above, opportunities were also made available where R57.8 million worth of contract work was awarded to our ESD beneficiaries.

SMMEs that are contracted to SANParks and are interested in accessing the programme should liaise directly with the SANParks Supply Chain Management Unit at the Kruger National Park.

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