South African Airways pledges to nurture and develop black business, entrepreneurs and industrialists

A first in the history of South African aviation

South African Airways (SAA) pledged its support on Friday 13 June 2015 to black industrialists, women and youth, and black-owned businesses, in the first initiative of its kind in the South African aviation industry.

Dudu Myeni, Chairperson of the SAA Board, addressed a gathering of over two hundred entrepreneurs in Midrand, Johannesburg, with words of inspiration, support and encouragement.

“Your presence is testament to our belief that there are a multitude of talented, skilled and successful black-owned businesses in South Africa – a collective with whom we can engage and together work towards realising our country’s true potential,” Myeni said.

The meeting took place following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed just under three weeks ago between SAA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Following the signing, SAA invited SMEs that are 50% or more black owned, black, women owned, disabled or youth owned to its series of Suppliers’ Engagement Summits. Friday’s event was the first of its kind.

This initiative marks – for the first time in the history of South African aviation – a concerted effort to seek out, nurture and develop black business, entrepreneurs and industrialists.

“Traditionally and by legacy, aviation represents what has been symptomatic of perhaps many aspects of our economy – there’s always been a lot of talk and not enough doing. Now is the time for inclusive participation. Now is the time for organic development and support for business. And SAA is putting its money where our promises are – SAA is open for business,” Myeni said.

She continued to say that the future of SA is largely dependent on state-owned enterprises nurturing SMEs.

“Small business drives our economy and represents the vast majority of the formal and informal sector. It employs the majority of South Africans. Insights from the 2013 study by Oxford Economics show that the SAA Group contributes R9,2 billion to the South African GDP (0.3%), of which R1,6 billion is contributed through spending by employees and the company’s supply chain. The study also notes that 16 400 jobs are created directly through SAA’s supply chain.”

“At SAA, we’re committed to empowering entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds by levelling the playing field to deliver inclusive opportunities. It is SAA’s intention to assume an active leadership role in enterprise development in South African aviation and this summit marks the beginning of many initiatives towards achieving this goal.

“The public procurement arm of SAA has massive capacity to incubate an efficient and dynamic group of black industrialists. This will be a first step towards a broad procurement strategy by all state-owned enterprises and government departments to incrementally set procurement targets which will boost the entrepreneurial efforts of these black industrialists,” she said.

Myeni invited the gathering to: “learn about procurement procedures and governance. Consult us, read the literature and familiarise yourselves with the process. Tenders, requests for quotes and many other governance instruments are in place to protect, streamline and govern the fair awarding of business”.

These engagements will also be held in other major areas in the country, such as Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

The summits should provide opportunities for SMEs to directly engage with the SAA Group Buyers. There will also be an opportunity for them to network and share experiences with other black-owned businesses. An overview of SAA’s Procurement Transformation mission and the SAA Annual Procurement Plan 2015 will be shared at these gatherings.

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