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Dunlop launches programme to empower township tyre traders

Southern Africa

Although Dunlop – Sumitomo Rubber SA’s iconic brand – has for the past five years proactively employed its depth of heritage and experience to unlock small business ownership in the informal sector, the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme was officially unveiled at the 2017 NAACAM Show in Durban as a transformational catalyst to create and grow township tyre traders.

The National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers of South Africa (NAACAM) Show is a platform from which to grow the automotive component and related manufacturing sectors in South Africa, and the first trade show was held this week at the Durban ICC from 5-7 April.

Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber SA, said the company took a stance in 2012 to pursue this programme and saw the role that they could play in economic inclusion by working with government to accelerate transformation, thus helping to alleviate the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Dunlop branded containers are transformed into tyre fitment centres and provide opportunities for unemployed youth and women to be trained and mentored in tyre sales and repair. “By fostering greater entrepreneurial activity in townships and informal areas, the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme encourages self-employment and stimulates job creation,” he explained.

He said the company had noticed there were many informal tyre businesses in the townships operating at the roadside and some were operated out of containers. However, such businesses had little access to reputable tyre manufacturers although there was a market for professional tyre services. Meanwhile, second-hand tyres and even re-grooved tyres were in high demand.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, we saw it as our role to make safe and high quality products available to this market and took the gap,” Haffejee said.

He said the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme was the first of its kind in the tyre market, and has been a key focus area in Dunlop’s distribution channel growth strategy.

“With the support of a widely recognised brand, the container programme has already enjoyed exponential growth and success in the tyre market,” he said, adding that the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme was initiated to develop micro-entrepreneurs trading within or serving marginalized communities. The programme also provides branding, tyre training, mentorship and marketing support to container owners and their staff.

“The informal economy is not disconnected from the first or formal economy, but functions according to different entrepreneurial rules. We have acknowledged this, and can demonstrate that through proper skills transfer and training, township tyre traders can run profitable and sustainable enterprises that offer stable self-employment and sustainable livelihoods,” Haffejee highlighted.
Since inception, 83 Dunlop container tyre outlets have been established in townships throughout South Africa, 17 of which are based in KwaZulu-Natal. To date, more than R50 million worth of tyres have been sold from township container outlets.

“We are proud to have partnered with several local and provincial government bodies to help realise these opportunities in the marketplace,” said Haffejee.

Haffejee was grateful to eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support Unit for assistance given to the container tyre traders to set up their businesses, including access to services such as electricity. This unit had also provided traders with training in various business processes such as procurement.

Dunlop’s partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Small Business Growth Enterprise’s (SBGE) Township and Rural Revitalisation Programme has created employment for unemployed graduates in and around KZN province.
So far, grants totaling R4.1 million have been allocated for the supply, branding and fitment of containers, including start-up stock, with the first two container businesses being award in November 2016 in the Estcourt and Ladysmith regions. Technical tyre training and business mentorship will also be provided jointly by Sumitomo Rubber SA and SBGE.

Speaking at the opening of the Naacam Show, eThekwini Mayor Councillor Zandile Gumede made special mention of Dunlop’s efforts. “The mentorship offered by Dunlop to the SMME’s in this programme is to be commended. This programme is not another opportunity without support,” she said.

The KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, speaking at the launch event, lauded the tyre manufacturer’s efforts.

“When we talk about radical economic transformation, we are talking about programmes like this. True transformation can only take place when previously disadvantaged individuals are given access to more economic opportunities that allow them to participate in the mainstream of the economy,” he said.

As testament to the value that the programme has imparted to her, Smangele Dladla, container owner of Stormza Tyres in Ntuzuma spoke at the launch event. “For five years, I was a vendor selling food on the roadside. Today, I have my own business and employ two staff members,” she said.

“Since becoming a Dunlop tyre trader, my business has really taken off and I am proud to be offering top-class service with an established brand behind me.”

“I am thankful to Dunlop for its faith in supporting me to enter a male-dominated industry,” she said.

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