Bridging the divide for excluded township economies – SASDC and Gauteng Provincial Government Partnership

By 16th December 2019News, SASDC, South Africa

The South African Supplier Diversity Council exists to address socio-economic challenges in South Africa through value chain diversity and inclusion in order to improve economic sustainability.  We strive to unlock the competitiveness of diverse SMMEs by creating access to procurement markets for marginalized Black business through the development of a collaborative eco-systems of partners from business and government.

In 2016, the South African Supplier Diversity Council (SASDC) partnered with the Gauteng Provincial Government to target marginalised township communities who systemically remained excluded from the South African main stream economy.

In South Africa, the term “township” refers to the underdeveloped racially segregated urban areas built on the periphery of towns and cities that during apartheid were reserved for non-whites, namely Indians, Africans and Coloureds.

Township communities remain impoverished with high levels of unemployment.   They predominantly do not have access to quality education leaving them with a lack of skills to compete in the mainstream economy.   These communities formed a key focus of the Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s State of the Province address in June 2014, during which he stated that “the significant participation and meaningful inclusion of the people of the township into mainstream economy of Gauteng through their own township enterprises that are supported by the government and big businesses will be one of the key game changers….The townships must be self-sufficient and vibrant economic centres.”

Township businesses most often started out of necessity as a response to high unemployment rates and the inability to find employment.  The result is that these businesses are often not compliant and need assistance to become procurement ready.

The partnership between the SASDC and the Gauteng Provincial government sought to tackle some of these issues by implementing a holistic intervention built on three development pillars.  The first pillar sought to assess the capability of township businesses in terms of their market readiness, secondly to provide access to capacity building programmes to supplement and/or address skills gaps and, finally, to provide access to procurement opportunities through linkage events.


We bid farewell to our 2018 interns, who were an integral part of the success in achieving the assessments target

An important component of the project was the inclusion of unemployed graduates to provide capacity for the procurement readiness assessment pillar.  Fifty youth, residing in the different townships in which the targeted SMMEs are based, were recruited and employed as interns for the project.  This allowed them to gain valuable work experience and up-skilling, preparing them for the world of work and giving them key insights into the components required for running a competitive business.  The interns played a vital role in meeting the assessment target set for the project. Together, they assessed a total of 2,617 township enterprises, exceeding the original project target by 8%.


Facilitator Gontse Mope and his class who completed the Integrated Safety Systems of Work programme for SMMEs in the construction industry

Building on the knowledge gained through the procurement readiness assessment process, and to address the skills deficit for many township-based SMMEs, the second project pillar offered these business access to training and development programmes in order to improve their capacity and to compete better for opportunities in the market.  Interventions ranged from 1-day workshops to 12 month intensive development programmes.  2491 SMMEs benefited from accessing 1-day workshops with a further 777 on-boarded and completing 3 to 12 month programmes.  These training and development programmes were mainly delivered by experienced development specialist drawn from the SASDC’s diverse pool of more than 700 certified black owned suppliers.

Through linkage events, procurement-ready township businesses met with prospective buyers in the private and public sector, providing them access to potential market opportunities.  The SASDC hosted 10 corporate linkage events and a further 5 supplier engagement events involving the Gauteng Provincial Government Supply Chain representatives.

The SASDC is pleased with progress being made by township-based businesses who seized the opportunity to up-skill themselves and are growing their businesses by applying the knowledge and tools they have accumulated through this intervention.  The SASDC will continue to advocate that this intervention should be replicated in the rest of the country to ensure that all previously disadvantaged communities get the support and attention they need in order to change and better their circumstances.