Barend Petersen, Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines.

De Beers Zimele Business Hubs have created over 2,000 jobs in South Africa’s rural and regional urban areas with loans exceeding R60m.

Barend Petersen, Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM,) launched the latest De Beers Zimele Business Hub in Cape Town, South Africa last week. The first in the Western Cape region, the De Beers Marine Zimele Business Hub joins others operated by DBCM to support budding entrepreneurs in the Northern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng and the Free State.

Petersen said, “De Beers has supported many initiatives from historically disadvantaged, and often the most marginalised, people in South Africa. We are proud to have funded 233 new SMEs in 2014, thereby creating 2,335 jobs in rural and regional urban areas with loans amounting to R60.7m. I am encouraged by the progress to date and know that De Beers and Anglo American Group share a vision for Zimele with South Africa to transform and build a better future, especially for those South Africans who are proof that job creation can come from unexpected places, sectors and regions.”

In his speech, Petersen said, “In taking a broad and optimistic view of our role in our country:

• De Beers Consolidated Mines in 2014 concluded an extension of its Black Economic Empowerment partnership with Ponahalo Holdings, a bespoke transaction that brings these partners together both in ownership and in operational management. These transactions far exceed the requirements of the Mining Charter and point the way for true transformation of the realities found in South African mining. Shareholders include the previously disadvantaged, women, disabled people, and all De Beers Consolidated Mines’ employees and pensioners.

• As a transformed company, we are pro-active in our recruitment practices in communities where we operate, with a commitment to employment equity that is actively being driven throughout our operations to promote a broadly representative workforce; ensuring fair equality of opportunity for all; redressing imbalances caused by past practices; managing diversity for long-term benefit; and valuing the contributions made by all our employees.

• There is still much to do, and our efforts are committed to getting it done. . But I am pleased to note that in just the three-year period from 1 October 2011 to end-September last year, at De Beers Consolidated Mines our top management profile of Historically Disadvantaged South Africans had improved from 33% to 50%, in senior management from 33% to 41%, and in general management from 47% to 54%.

• Transformation at De Beers includes a strong focus on bringing to prominence women in mining engineering, metallurgy, research and exploration, with technical positions well in excess of the 10% Mining Charter requirement. Indeed, at out Voorspoed Mine, more than a quarter of such positions are occupied by women.

• Promoting education and skills development is also to be found through our strong commitment to promoting mineral beneficiation processes – to the point where diamonds are now the leading mineral beneficiated in South Africa. This has happened through projects that improve local cutting and polishing skills, and in close collaboration with the State Diamond Trader and the set-aside of mine production for emerging cutters.

• In addition, De Beers has for a long time been a leading practical supporter of educational training projects throughout the country, including in its recent support for the establishment of the Sol Plaatjie University in Kimberley – South Africa’s first to be built since 1982. Then there are our rural schools infrastructure projects carried out in partnership with the Department of Basic Education; support for near-operations programmes such as at Kimberley’s Lesedi Technical Training Campus; and a myriad projects across communities where we operate, often through the work of the De Beers Fund and the Ponahalo De Beers Trust.

These initiatives are part-and-parcel of our deep belief in South Africa and of our role as a leading player in the diamond industry.  This is what underpins our Zimele initiatives which work to promote practical small business generation, and its successful longevity.

Already, in working to establish small business support through our operations in Limpopo, THE Free State, Northern Cape and now here in Cape Town, De Beers Zimele has:

  • Funded 233 SMEs,
  • Created 2,335 jobs, and
  • Approved loans of R60.7m.
  • Percentage of women supported is 43%
  • Percentage of youth supported is 21%

Yet we are careful not to insist that businesses supported must in some way be directly connected to our own work – rather, we take a broader view of societal progress and our role in promoting it. That is why the businesses we are celebrating today are an eclectic mix, whose common denominator is their excellence, potential for success and long-term growth and sustainability.

These supported businesses include the following:

  • Jewellery beneficiation
  • Telecoms fibre optic cable installation
  • Construction of RDP houses
  • Municipal building cleaning services
  • Railways laundry cleaning services
  • Production of protective clothing

Each of them is a partner of De Beers Zimele for the long haul.”