02 August 2022

Lebone uplifts SMMEs with “bakkie brigade” initiative

Submitted by Duduzile Mphahlele
Lebone uplifts SMMEs with “bakkie brigade” initiative

The impact of Covid has hit businesses hard in South Africa – and it has been especially harsh for the small business sector. But the disruptions of the pandemic did not affect all businesses equally – some remained open and even thrived in the new, tougher trading environment while others sadly had to close their doors.

Some of the fortunate ones stepped up to the plate by taking the opportunity to empower less-fortunate businesses through meaningful collaborations.

Leading specialised heavy-duty printing company, Lebone Litho Printers (Lebone), is one of these. It identified the value of delegating transportation tasks and processes – which don’t form part of its core specialities – to small businesses that needed them the most.

Independent transport contractors lining up outside furniture or hardware stores hoping to get customers to use their services are a common sight in townships. But this does not always offer a reliable source of business and income.  

South Africa has at least 1.5 million informal businesses mainly in the wholesale, retail and accommodation sectors. So, building a fully functional and formal transport business by small providers can be especially challenging and even unfeasible at times.

Lebone has taken the lead in uplifting Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) by collaborating with independent bakkie owners and contractors to deliver the millions of school workbooks it prints to thousands of schools nationwide. The localised bakkie owners play a key role in Lebone’s distribution efforts while also boosting their small businesses.

Lebone Litho chooses the owners, communicates with them, and arranges all the logistics to ensure a seamless delivery of the workbooks. The bakkie owners also receive training and financial support to enable them to fulfil their allocated delivery slots.

So far, the company has made use of 92 distributors in the Eastern Cape and 498 others countrywide. This ranges from distributors with one bakkie to others with vehicles of various sizes. Some are paid upfront to allow them to hire additional vehicles and warehouse space to meet delivery demands.

Since the start of Covid-19, Lebone’s main focus has been to retain jobs and not to cut them.

The rallying call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to corporate South Africa to create jobs and maintain them has been heeded by Lebone. So far, it has created another 52 jobs and upskills internal staff to provide them with better opportunities.

The “bakkie brigade” has provided many job opportunities and through it, Lebone has witnessed the growth and expansion of the distributors in this initiative.

Zukiswa Mpondonqe, the director of Iliqhayiya is one of the people who have benefited from this great initiative. “As an African female, this project brought back my dignity. As a single mother, I am now able to provide for my family’s needs as well as pay for my daughter’s tuition fees,” says Mpondonqe.

Spectra Upfront, a scholastic materials supplier mentions that the project has enabled them to employ 21 full time staff as well as 30 temporary staff during the busy season. Through the sustainable income, the company has purchased extra vehicles for distribution.

Some bakkie owners have expanded their services by growing their fleet from just one vehicle to eight vehicles in two short years – which proves that the Lebone initiative is a resounding success for its role players.

Hlengani Associates

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