Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) spending is probably not welcomed by many South African corporates. But if more companies took the time to see – and where possible, control – where their money goes, the difference it can make to the development of worthy enterprises, as well as the national economy, could prove enlightening.
KBAC Flooring, as part of its BBBEE commitment, has come to know how its financial participation in the BBBEE “Enterprise and Supplier Development” (ESD) programme, is helping the PBM Group, Pretoria North-based suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and corporate clothing, not only to survive in the most challenging of conditions, but to grow – in production, sales and acumen as well as the implementation of new operational systems that will reap rewards for the future.
Ashleigh Keefer, KBAC Flooring’s Chief Financial Officer, is in charge of the flooring supplier’s BBBEE programme. After appointing the entrepreneurial development company, LEAP (Lean Enterprise Acceleration Programmes) to find a worthy recipient for KBAC’s BBBEE Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme spending, it was decided that KBAC should become a corporate sponsor for the PBM Group.
The 100% black women-owned SME company which started operating in 2015 by a dynamic and committed lady from Marikana, Refilwe Sebothoma, whose family worked for the mining industry in the North West Province town. Growing up, PPE was part of her life as it was worn daily by nearly everyone she encountered so it was no surprise when she saw the potential of making health and safety clothing the focus of her career. The company she founded now produces a complete range of top-brand name PPE workwear, including specialised bespoke and SABS-approved garments, safety footwear, corporate clothing and branding solutions.
KBAC Flooring partnered with LEAP in March this year to provide assistance for the development and economic growth of the PBM Group. LEAP has since conducted extensive research and met with Refilwe and her PBM team to determine what type of interventions were needed to address the company’s business objectives. Financial, technical and operational assessments; entrepreneurial scans; marketing evaluation; and general business needs were some of many of the company’s activities that were thoroughly analysed and rectified. KBAC regularly receives feedback from LEAP on how its BBBEE payments are helping PBM.
Ashleigh says: “It was the first time that I gained knowledge of how KBAC’s BBBEE spending was being utilised. I was exceptionally thrilled to learn how PBM was benefiting from it. I was also introduced to the company’s founder, Refilwe – an incredible woman. We have kept in contact since meeting in February this year and KBAC now feels as if we have become partners in PBM’s growth and successes.”
PBM had already begun to make its mark in the PPE industry and last year Refilwe was among the finalists for the Standard Bank Top Women 2019 Awards which recognise female entrepreneurs’ efforts toward gender parity in the male-dominated African business world.
Refilwe says: “The support given to us by KBAC was much needed. They provided encouragement and assistance toward implementing our growth and continuity strategy. The financial investment allowed LEAP to invest time, resources and their expert knowledge in our business. But the most powerful element was the decision KBAC took to become partners of PBM and not just throw money in to tick the box. I am truly grateful for the partnership and looking forward to many more years of collaboration.”
PBM has as its mission “to ensure that safety becomes a way of life in the workplace, by supplying and distributing service-oriented products of reliable quality to satisfy clients’ needs”. And that mission is being recognised and supported. The company is now no longer an Exempt Micro Enterprise (EME) but has grown to become a Qualifying Small Enterprise (QSE), and its workforce is also increasing steadily – helped to a large extent from corporate SD contributions and the advice and guidance supplied by LEAP, Refilwe has no hesitation in stating.
But such corporate assistance would be meaningless unless the recipient is also committed. Refilwe is committed, and has never lost her passion for PBM and its cause.
“Sometimes things don’t hit home until you confront the facts. Despite safety regulations to protect workers, many are still having to work in circumstances that cause detrimental consequences to their well-being and the safety of others. This is widely documented through shocking facts and figures. Safety should always be a priority and must be at the forefront of the minds of both employers and employees. Industry should look after its sons and daughters ….and PBM is so proud to be able to play in part in worker safety in this country,” Refilwe states