Through the Black Industrialists programme, a Western Cape company has been able to grow its business to become a pet food supplier for one of the country’s giant retailers.
Efforts by three women, who were determined to defy the odds and make a success of their business, paid off when they became the first beneficiaries of the Black Industrialists Programme, which is run by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).
K9 Pet Foods, which is based in Milnerton in the Western Cape, received funding to the tune of R20 million from the dti’s Black Industrialists Incentive Scheme and the balance of the funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Woolworths.
The funding was used to expand their business by setting up a manufacturing plant to produce long shelf life pet foods for Woolworths.
Today, the company’s Managing Director, Fazielah Allie (48), Financial Director Candice Stewart (38) and Operations Director Shireen Davids (47) are looked upon as shining examples of the radical transformation that government can achieve through the programme.
“When we bought K9 in 2014 after working for another pet foods manufacturing company for more than 14 years, not many people believed in us. We were summarily dismissed and written off because we are women and black. Fortunately, that made us even more determined and eager to succeed. We believed in ourselves,” said Allie.
She said the launch of the programme by the dti could not have come at a more opportune time.
The company had been producing frozen pet foods for other retailers and private customers and when Allie approached Woolworths to be their potential supplier, a symbiotic relationship developed.
“Woolworths saw a bigger opportunity for us in long-life products, which we were not producing at the time. They showed confidence in us. They were not only prepared to give us an opportunity to produce the products but were ready to invest in us to make sure that we produced and supplied them with products that would be an improvement on the product that they were importing.
“Despite this being in line with their import replacing initiative, it was also part of their Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme,” Allie said.
In order to produce the long-life products, K9 had to expand their operations and acquire new machinery.
Woolworths shared their knowledge on long-life pet food production and worked closely with them on their factory expansion plan.
That was when the company applied for funding from the dti and the IDC.
First consignment to Woolworths
On Thursday, the women felt a huge sense of achievement as a truck left their factory to deliver their first order of a range of pet food products to the Woolworths distribution centre.
“That was a momentous milestone for us indeed. We are grateful that the dti, IDC and Woolworths believed in us when many dismissed us. Today we have increased our staff complement from 11 to 28 as a result of this support. We are determined to forge ahead,” Allie said.
She expressed confidence that the trio would grow the company to achieve an annual turnover of R45 million in the next two years.
At a post Cabinet media briefing last week, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said government had supported 27 black industrialists from the first quarter of 2015/16 to the third quarter of 2016/17 to advance economic transformation.
The dti launched the Black Industrialists Development Programme in August 2014 and is aimed at creating more than 100 black industrialists within three years and put black industrialists at the forefront of South Africa’s industrialisation efforts.