Sanlam champions entrepreneurs through new enterprise and supplier development programmes

Supporting the owners of SMEs is one of the best ways to foster greater financial inclusion and a life of confidence for all, says Sanlam

Sanlam has partnered with Black Umbrellas to support 30 black women entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journeys.
Sanlam has partnered with Black Umbrellas to support 30 black women entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journeys.
Image: Getty Images via Sanlam

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) comprise about 90% of all formal business in SA, contributing 34% of our country's GDP, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

However, the IFC has reported that SA’s rate of early-stage entrepreneurship is three times lower than it should be, with SME sector growth of just 14% in nine years.

Businesses are being held back by myriad factors, but primarily lack of funding and skills development.

As a purpose-led group, Sanlam is committed to using its enterprise and supplier development (ESD) initiatives to champion SMEs. Along with its existing ESD programme, in collaboration with the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa), Sanlam is introducing two new programmes in partnership with Black Umbrellas and Zevoli Growth Partners.

Small businesses hire up to 60% of the country's workforce. Empowering entrepreneurs means shifting our nation’s narrative. It’s also a critical part of SA’s National Development Plan (NDP), which aims to amplify SME's economic contribution.

Our entrepreneurs are our problem-solvers and community builders. Entrepreneurship is the biggest opportunity for SA to capture all the potential of our demographic dividend, our greatest untapped asset. It's one of the best avenues to amplify socioeconomic inclusion and give more people purpose, independence and dignity.

Sanlam's ESD programmes are about creating ripples of economic sustainability for generations to come.

Sanlam and Asisa

The Sanlam-Asisa ESD programme was launched in 2013 and has created and sustained 3,578 jobs to date.

It aims to transform Sanlam’s distribution network and contribute to job creation through the development of sustainable businesses that can grow and contribute to SA’s economy.

The programme allows Sanlam to invest in its supply chain-aligned SMEs through three strategic projects:

  • Project Accelerate is an 18-month intervention that assists 14 SMEs through business development support, with a focus on accessing markets, funding and relevant skills.

  • Project Elevate concentrates on distribution development; it provides specialist practice management training to 24 black-owned financial planning businesses in Sanlam’s BlueStar network, with a focus on instilling practical skills and knowledge.

  • Project Migrate provides specialist business development support to 11 financial planning businesses through an intensive coaching-based approach with targeted mentorship, combined with workshops.

Sanlam and Black Umbrellas

Sanlam has partnered with Black Umbrellas to support 30 black women entrepreneurs in their business journeys through three intensive programmes:

  • The Masakhe programme aims to unlock the potential of 15 early-stage beneficiary SMEs, igniting their business ideas and paving the way for their full establishment as start-ups.
  • The Siyakhula programme seeks to fuel the growth of nine established SMEs, empowering them to operationalise and scale their businesses, with a focus on increasing their key financial metrics.

  • The Asindize programme will propel two existing SMEs that are ready to accelerate their growth to increase their revenue and create greater employment opportunities. Participating businesses must be at least 51% black-owned, with five permanent employees or more.

Sanlam and Zevoli Growth Partners

Zevoli Growth Partners helps to formalise township-based stokvels, transforming them into viable businesses. There are about 800,000 stokvels in the country, collecting about R50bn per year, with estimated membership of 11-million South Africans. They have a critical role to play in changing the nation’s savings rate. 

Supporting stokvels means indirectly supporting vulnerable individuals. Their success is vital to the country’s growth. Sanlam and Zevoli will assist participating stokvels through business mentorship, financial literacy and operational support, to position them for growth.

Sanlam recognises that supporting the owners of SA's SMEs is one of the best ways of fostering greater financial inclusion and a life of confidence for all. Our country's entrepreneurs are key to solving the nation’s shared challenges. We owe it to them to help turn their big ideas into big business over the long term. We need to create an environment where they feel supported to succeed.

For more information about Sanlam's ESD programmes, and to find out how to apply for one, visit the Sanlam Foundation website.

About the author: Nozizwe Vundla is the head of the Sanlam Foundation.

Read the 2023 Sanlam Transformation Gauge report

The annual Sanlam Transformation Gauge, presented in partnership with the Sunday Times Business Times, is the only consolidated, sector-focused research report to take a holistic measurement of economic transformation in SA, accounting for all elements of BBBEE.

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This article was sponsored by Sanlam.