CAPTION: Saldanha business owner, Suleiman Adjiet, has grown his transport company from just one taxi in 1998 to 20 taxis and 12 cold storage freezer trucks today. The growth of his business is largely thanks to procurement policies at Sea Harvest where investing in local black suppliers is a high priority.
Welmarie Coetzee, Sea Harvest Procurement Manager, explains: “Long before enterprise development and supplier development were included in calculating broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) scores, Sea Harvest was investing in black businesses in Saldanha Bay.” The fishing company, which listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in March this year, has an overall B-BBEE score of 97%. “We are committed to doing more than just ticking the boxes,” says Coetzee. “As the single largest employer in Saldanha Bay, we are invested in this community. We want to see the area develop with new businesses as our own company continues to grow. Last year we spent over a hundred million Rand doing business with local small- and medium-sized suppliers on the West Coast, of which sixty-five million was with majority black-owned businesses.”
Sea Harvest’s sea-going staff are transported to and from work by Adjiet’s taxi business, which started with one driver but now employs 20 drivers. In 2004 the business-minded Adjiet had sufficient capital to diversify and start another company, SHR Transport. He bought a cold storage truck and started pitching for contracts to deliver Sea Harvest’s frozen hake to Cape Town. Today he is responsible for transporting frozen hake across the country.
Meanwhile, Mornay Kurtz is the owner of MCK Engineering, which has grown exponentially thanks to Sea Harvest’s procurement strategy that favours local black suppliers. “Mornay started doing welding and vessel maintenance for Sea Harvest 10 years ago with a staff complement of five. As he proved his reliability, we gave his business further opportunities and he won more contracts. Now he has 35 employees,” says Coetzee. Kurtz is just as keen as Sea Harvest to create employment opportunities and, in January this year, he opened a technical training school to teach welding skills to young apprentices. There are 54 apprentices at the welding school. “He just wants to plough back into the community, share his own knowledge and skills, and give people hope to find work,” says Coetzee.
A further example of how Sea Harvest is supporting new black enterprises is its procurement of stevedoring services from Enlee Traders, a 100% black-owned local business. Enlee is responsible for off-loading fish from vessels as soon as they dock. “Enlee was a family-operated business that has grown tremendously. When they first started, they only supplied services to Sea Harvest. Now we are but one of their clients and they are winning tenders with other big companies on the West Coast. I’m so excited for them to expand their client base because I’ve been a part of their business journey by guiding them with their books, how to cost items, and to grow the company,” says Coetzee. Enlee now employs 70 permanent staff and another 120 casual staff.
Business advice and coaching for entrepreneurs running small and medium-sized enterprises is critical for sustained economic growth. To formalise this mentoring process, Sea Harvest, together with other corporates based on the West Coast, established the West Coast Business Development Centre (WCBDC) 19 years ago. “The Centre assists people who have a business dream, with the technical skills and mentoring support required to turn it into a reality,” explains Coetzee, who is the Chairperson of the WCBDC Board. In the last financial year, WCBDC serviced 4648 people and helped 490 people to register new businesses.
“When local businesses thrive, the whole community benefits. It is rewarding to play a small role in helping Saldanha Bay residents grab hold of business opportunities and succeed as they create sustainable work opportunities for many along the West Coast,” concludes Coetzee.