Unilever Southern Africa has agreed to collaborate with the Department of Small Business Development to increase investment in small, micro and medium enterprise (SMME) development.
“Unilever [has] already identified input materials which can be manufactured locally and committed to work with the department to build the capability of SMMEs, particularly black, women and youth-owned, and those owned by people with disability, to participate meaningfully in this manufacturing,” the department said on Wednesday.
Other commitments include increased SMME access to Unilever’s third-party manufacturing, logistics platforms and SMME products ‘route to market’ assistance.
Unilever CEO Luc-Olivier Marquet made the commitment during a recent meeting with the Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
The meeting followed the publication of a racially offensive advert on the Clicks website by Unilever hair brand, TRESemmé.
“Unilever has since also set up an advisory board with internal and external experts to review how Unilever hair care products in South Africa can offer consumers the solutions they want in positive and empowering terms.
“Working with the new advisory board, Unilever will develop programmes to deliver immediate support to Black hair stylists and small professional salons.
“It was noted that although 95% of Unilever products sold in South Africa are manufactured within the country, the bulk of the input materials for such manufacturing are imports, which significantly dilutes the benefits to South Africa in the Unilever supply value chain,” the department said.
Ntshavheni said the current R80 million Enterprise Development Fund of Unilever is not sufficient for SMME development. However, she accepted that if commitments on value chain participation made by Unilever are fulfilled, it will improve this contribution.
The department undertook to also use its existing support mechanisms to accelerate the qualification of SMMEs to participate in the Unilever value chains, such mechanisms include the Manufacturing Support Scheme, and fast-tracked certification of products with the relevant standards bodies.
The department will partner with Unilever’s programme to support Black hair stylists and small professional salons through its programmes to support informal and micro personal care services.
The Minister accepted the offer by Unilever to partner on the Spaza and General Dealers Support Programme to ensure the success of spaza shops as the next frontier for convenience shopping in townships and rural areas.