Absa’s Supplier Development programme, led by Absa Group Procurement, assists small-to-medium enterprises with access to advice, resources, finance, products and services. In fact, in 2019, 50% of the bank’s total procurement spend went towards 51% black-owned entities. What makes these businesses tick? Here are some of their stories.
From HR to logistics? Mpume Mhlongo, now a seasoned entrepreneur with over 15 years’ experience in business leadership, decided to make the brave change from corporate to entrepreneurship, all in the name of empowerment and transformation.
Mpume’s business started out as most, a dabble in a few things here and there - renovations and construction for the Department of Public Works, to reading water meters for various municipalities. A bid to supply and deliver materials then came her way and logistics seemed the right way to go.
It was decided, after much consideration, that all business partners leave their respective corporate jobs and literally hit the ground running, dedicating all their efforts to operating MicroVBE Couriers full time. An opportunity to transport blood specimens throughout KZN to various laboratories soon followed, setting a positive trajectory for accelerated business growth.
Pursuing strategic growth opportunities
After cementing a name for itself in construction, MicroVBE Couriers won an Absa courier RFP in 2015 to deliver point of sale (POS) devices for the bank. There is no doubt that a black female owned business within the courier space was a rare find. Finding one that perfectly aligned with Absa’s values? Even less likely.
Eventually the relationship shifted from MicroVBE being a long-standing Absa client, to the business becoming a trusted supplier. Focusing on its core competency, logistics (and giving the bigger guys a run for their money), MicroVBE Couriers was also selected to be the first company to participate in the bank’s Supplier Development programme; receiving a R2 million grant, helping to launch the business in Jozi.
Going the extra mile
What’s more, with the support of Absa’s Third Party Service and Commercial Payments Department team, MicroVBE Couriers was able to design a state-of the art track and trace system (the same way you track your Uber driver, but for packages) that would embed itself comfortably into Absa’s supply chain. The company is also focused on capacity building within the sector, hoping to train up and coming courier drivers, equipping them with the skills needed to find meaningful employment.
In addition to the big corporates already mentioned, MicroVBE Couriers is also servicing Altron Bytes Technology Group and TradeLink Retail Systems PTY LTD. The company’s newest remit is transporting Green Coffee PTY LTD’s supplies to the world's largest fast food restaurant chain stores as well as Redbox Marketing campaigns nationally. Compliance is, of course, at the forefront and through Absa's programme, MicroVBE has received its PCI P2PE for relevant work, and also recently attained its ISO9001 and ISO14001 certifications.