Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call on South Africans to support the local economy, another leading retailer is now on the lookout for social entrepreneurs whose produce can be sold in their stores nationwide.
Food Lover’s Market invites small-scale farmers and other suppliers to apply for their Seeds of Change supplier development programme. Now in its second year, the programme promotes local entrepreneurship.
Suppliers across Mzansi are encourage to apply before Monday, 14 March 2022. Food For Mzansi caught up with Travis Coppin, chief executive of Food Lover’s Market’s retail division, to find out more about the initiative.
Zolani Sinxo: As the home for small-scale and newly commercial farmers in South Africa, Food For Mzansi was inundated with queries about the Seeds of Change application call. What’s the deal? It sounds like a great opportunity.
Travis Coppin: Following the success of the last Seeds of Change supplier development partnership, Food Lover’s Market has opened applications for the second consecutive year to allow aspiring social entrepreneurs to join the company as a supplier.
Although we received close to 900 applications last year, the winner was announced after a thorough selection process that included a two-day webinar, assignments, a week-long boot camp for the top 10 social enterprises, and a final pitching event to senior buyers and executives.
Often, small businesses do not have access to the supplier networks and marketing tools to grow their business. This initiative, therefore, aims to provide the opportunity and the means for small suppliers to get the tools and training they need to be successful and operate their business as sustainable suppliers to the retail market.
So, what is the selection criteria and who can apply?
We are interested in social enterprises that fit into the fresh produce and food retail environments. The retailer intends to prioritise applications from businesses that will add value to the Food Lover’s Market shopping experience. These include smallholder farmers, freight businesses, commercial services, produce and products that sit within in-store departments such as bakery, confectionery, groceries and liquor.
Some of the requirements to apply include:
- The business should be operational for [at least] 12 months.
- The business should show financial stability.
- The business should have a business plan showcasing successful implementation.
What challenges does the initiative seek to address?
Despite the business opportunities we want to provide for our entrepreneurs, the country is confronted by unemployment which threatens the livelihood of many South Africans. This is chief among the issues that made us create this project. Unemployment in South Africa stood at 28.5% in September 2020. In August of 2021, the unemployment rate had risen to 34.4% – undoubtedly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At Food Lover’s Market, we are deeply passionate about our communities and our environment, and Seeds of Change is a natural extension of this. We believe that this is an opportunity to create employment and make a critical social impact in communities across South Africa.
We are looking for suppliers that mirror these values and are socially and environmentally focused, are passionate about retail and are motivated to deliver the best quality product or service.
What are you looking forward to in this year’s selection process?
We are excited to see what the 2022 call for applications will bring. Last year we uncovered a few social enterprise gems, and we believe this year will be no different.
How will this initiative benefit those who will be selected?
The top 20 will be selected and will attend a two-day workshop on 8 and 9 April 2022, which will give them a taste of the retail experience and what will be required to become part of the supplier network. The top 10 will be announced on 19 April 2022 and will attend a four-day boot camp between 9 and 12 May 2022.
In this bootcamp, they will receive the guidance, mentorship and necessary skills to market their business. They will also be exposed to a macro view of the global and South African retail landscape including trends, challenges and opportunities within the sector. The top 10 businesses will then do a final “Fertile Ground” pitch to the Food Lover’s Market board on 13 May 2022. The successful applicant will be announced on the same day.
Seeds of Change will be facilitated by the Social Enterprise Academy, who are the foremost specialist learning and development organisation supporting social change organisations in South Africa.
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