Supply-chain solutions company CHEP has launched an exciting programme to empower small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). 

CHEP’s Step Up: Empowering SMMEs initiative gives small businesses exposure to big-brand manufacturing organisations, such as Tiger Brands, empowering them to expand their operations through networking and partnerships.

SMMEs make up more than 98% of South African businesses. They are also responsible for the employment of 50 to 60% of the active workforce contributing to the country’s economy. 

Despite being absolutely necessary for South Africa’s growth and sustainability, SMMEs are also the most at risk – having faced the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the July 2021 riots in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng, and the rising cost of living, with little cover or security. 

“At CHEP, we believe in collaborating with our customers to grow the economy. So, when the pandemic hit in 2020, we made the strategic decision to expand our solutions so that we could also focus on SMMEs across Africa,” says Hermann Haupt, Vice President at CHEP Sub Sahara Africa. 

“Our Step Up initiative allows CHEP to play a significant role in developing South Africa’s SMMEs while delivering sustainable, profitable growth for the economy.” 

CHEP holds good relationships with several major manufacturers across the country, which puts it in a good position to open doors for South African SMMEs. By providing the necessary resources, it can support emerging customers and partners that are still adjusting to supply-chain dynamics. 

“The support given to SMMEs will not just be to provide a helping hand to navigate the complexities of supply chains. It will also facilitate key introductions with our network of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers,” adds Haupt. 

Throughout the country, there is greater awareness amongst larger companies that they need to collaborate closely with their SMME supply chains to compete in global markets. There is recognition that the development of collaborative relationships along the supply chain is not only compatible with success but can also be a driver of it. 

Tiger Brands, through its Venture Capital Fund, has come on board as the first partner to join CHEP in their Step Up: Empowering SMME initiative. 

“We’re always on the lookout for innovative, founder-led, high-potential, high-growth companies. We are excited, through this partnership with CHEP, for the opportunity to hear and see from the selected SMMEs, offer our insight, and also take the opportunity to learn from them,” says Barati Mahloele, Tiger Brands Venture Capital Fund Director. 

The Tiger Brands Venture Capital Fund was launched in mid-2021 and its first investment was made in early 2022. The aim of the fund is to drive growth for Tiger Brands by investing in innovative businesses based in sub-Saharan Africa which offer healthier eating options in line with the latest consumer movements towards Health and Nutrition, Snackification and Economical Food Options. 

Within a few months of launching, the investment vehicle received more than 500 expressions of interest from eligible businesses operating within the FoodTech and AgriTech sector, where its focus is. 

By combining the expertise, perspectives and skills of different people and organisations, all parties involved in the Step Up: Empowering SMMEs initiative are now better able to innovate and grow. 

The initiative from CHEP also provides opportunities to access work not normally available to individual companies, potentially increasing market share and supporting a healthy supply chain. 

“The fund will assist entrepreneurs in securing the much-needed capital and capability required to grow their businesses, while also helping our business explore new opportunities locally and across the African continent,” adds Mahloele. 

“It’s a mutually beneficial partnership, where we learn from these businesses while also offering our capital and expertise.” 

Through this collaboration to empower and develop SMMEs, CHEP will help small businesses compete with larger brands by combining knowledge, consumer reach, and technology. 

Having implemented more than 80 value-based solutions, including supplier integration and one-way pallet conversion within CHEP’s small business development initiative in the past year, the company’s dedication to developing SMMEs is evident. 

Through its broad portfolio of partners across sectors, CHEP has managed to help SMMEs make it onto the shelves of retail stores and expand their national footprints.