On 27th June 2023, the Sanlam Group and South African National Parks (SANParks) unveiled a £10-million programme aimed at providing market access, finance, and business development support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) from communities surrounding South Africa’s major national parks.
The objective of the Sanlam SANParks SMME Support Programme is to foster sustainable businesses by offering supply chain finance at the most affordable rates possible.
During the launch event held at Kruger National Park on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, as declared by the United Nations, Sanlam and SANParks highlighted that the major parks in South Africa contribute approximately £180 million to the economy each year, generating and preserving jobs in the SMME sector.
Initially focusing on Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest national parks, the programme aims to support specific SMMEs identified in SANParks’ comprehensive supply management plan and will span a period of one year.
The programme will provide short-term working capital through interest-free loans to SMMEs with whom SANParks can procure goods and services within and around Kruger National Park. Sanlam, Africa’s largest non-banking financial services group, will contribute £10 million in loan support as part of its pilot programme, while the implementation of development support will be carried out by I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR (IAAE), a leading enterprise development agency with extensive experience in assisting entrepreneurs in building and expanding their businesses.
The programme’s goal is to establish sustainable SMMEs capable of delivering goods and services to SANParks, thereby preserving and potentially contributing to job creation in and around Kruger National Park.
Karl Socikwa, Group Executive for Market Development & Sustainability at Sanlam, emphasized that this initiative showcases the group’s strong commitment to sustainable growth in Africa. He stated, “Our purpose is to empower generations of Africans to be financially confident, secure, and prosperous. SMMEs are vital to the South African economy and serve as a significant driver of growth. In fact, the National Development Plan projects that SMMEs will create 90% of the 11 million new jobs our country desperately needs. However, this will only be possible if we, as part of South Africa’s corporate community, play our part.”
He further added, “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 – for over 100 years, we have been dedicated to investing in communities and the environment. Our national parks are crucial to our nation, and we must cherish them, along with the individuals responsible for their maintenance and conservation. We understand that many of these SMMEs have been severely impacted by the pandemic. We are delighted to collaborate with SANParks to provide essential financial and business development support to help these businesses thrive.”
Socikwa concluded, “SMMEs are essential for economic recovery and growth in all the markets where we operate. Within the context of our country’s unprecedented unemployment rate, they play a pivotal role in job creation and preservation.”
For SANParks, this programme forms part of a broader strategy to uplift SMMEs in the communities surrounding their parks. The organization aims to achieve ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting fair economic and social growth. As part of their Socio-Economic Transformation Strategy, which seeks to initiate, facilitate, coordinate, catalyze, and implement an integrated socio-economic development program for the equitable benefit of current and future generations, SANParks expressed gratitude to Sanlam for their support in business development initiatives.
Hapiloe Sello, CEO of SANParks, stated, “Through our incubation program, we have identified a group of determined young entrepreneurs who are eager to engage with the park and contribute to rural economic development. As an organization, we are committed to procuring services and goods from our neighboring communities. We are thrilled that the Board has endorsed this proposal and look forward to witnessing the empowerment of our rural communities.”
SANParks, through the SET unit, has conducted Economic Transformation Roadshows to present available opportunities at various national parks to local enterprises and suppliers. So far, three roadshows have been held, including one at Kruger National Park with the attendance of 660 local businesses, another in the Garden Route with 500 attendees, and one at Addo National Park with 300 attendees. The final roadshow for the year will take place in the Western Cape in October. These initiatives form part of SANParks’ Biodiversity transformation agenda and are supported through signed MOA’s with national public strategic partners.
Creating access to economic opportunities is a fundamental pillar of Sanlam’s socio-economic transformation strategy. In recent years, the group has focused on supporting the SMME sector. Key impacts on the SMME sector include supporting 2964 jobs through the Sanlam Group ESD programme, creating 614 jobs, and investing £1.15 million in the development of SMMEs in our value chain. In 2022, Sanlam’s procurement spend on SMEs amounted to £234 million, and the Group allocated £10 million in loan funding to black-owned SMEs. Additionally, our ESD beneficiaries were awarded £4.3 million worth of contract work.
SMMEs contracted with SANParks and interested in accessing the programme should directly liaise with the SANParks Supply Chain Management unit at Kruger National Park.