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Tackling youth unemployment and building a stronger economy: How procurement can help



The future of the global and local economy depends on the youth, but this is something many of us appear to have forgotten in the last 20 years. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to look after the economies we inherited from previous generations and prepare the way for the youth to step into our shoes. But with 63% of young people in South Africa aged 15 to 24 currently unemployed, it’s clear that we’ve missed the mark. Whether this is as a result of poor leadership, corruption, wasteful expenditure, or simply being too busy with what’s in front of us to plan for what lies ahead, is up for debate. However, the fact remains that if we don’t urgently prioritise job creation and youth skills development, the future of the South African economy looks perilous.      

Fortunately, we can take steps to address our shortcomings. Solutions rely on big companies stepping up to make a difference, small companies sprucing up to do better business, and government letting them get on with it. Here’s how I think we could work together to help the youth of today become prudent leaders and powerful consumers of tomorrow.

Addressing the experience gap

Both government and private entities have, for the last few years, focused on skills development. We’ve seen an increase in training programmes, technical skills institutes, support structures, and government-run agencies like the SETAs. So, ostensibly, the knowledge and skills are there. However, the third element in workforce capability – experience – is what’s lacking. And, without it, our youthful job seekers are at a loss.

A friend use to say that we have to allow future leaders to make mistakes, because that’s when they learn. Knowledge and skills can be taught fairly quickly, but experience takes time. To solve this problem, big and small companies need to commit to running meaningful, beneficial internships for the ‘green shoots’ in our workforce. Not tea-making internships, but ones where the trainee gains valuable experience and insight into their chosen industry. So that, at the end of the programme, they aren’t disappointed when the internship doesn’t turn into a full-time position, because they’ve got two other job offers on the table.

The next step is where procurement comes in. Even a skilled, experienced job seeker faces unemployment if they enter an economy where there are no jobs. So, how can we make skills development programmes and meaningful internships productive? How do we create opportunities for young job seekers in South Africa?  

Sending your procurement spend in the right direction  

In my 20 years in the procurement industry, I’ve noticed that the big organisations we assist have around 3 000 vendors on their books, but 80% of their spend goes to 100 suppliers. Why is that? In some cases, it’s in the interest of speed and efficiency. But how will we grow our economy if the same few names continue to dominate the market?

At Dante Deo, we’ve been doing things a bit differently. When we work with the big-name vendors, we award contracts – worth millions of rands – on condition: that they agree to employ and develop smaller players in the market.

This doesn’t just mean outsourcing 20% of the job to small businesses – as government tenders stipulate, but leveraging that established and renowned company to make a real difference. In a service integrator role, they could assist with practical skills training, as well as help take a small business from good to great. I want to see big players leading and developing smaller players, building everything from practical skills to sound finance and marketing departments. Because, in my experience, that’s often where small businesses fall short. They offer a good service, but don’t have the knowledge or experience to run a business. With a bit of help, they could start hiring their own accountants, tax experts, operations managers, and HR teams. Which will create job opportunities and open up the market to more than a handful of vendors.        

Why rural sourcing deserves the spotlight

Initially, those of us in procurement were excited about outsourcing. Then, when international fees became too high, the trend towards near-sourcing emerged. Now, with COVID-19 proving that we don’t need to be in offices or even city centres to be productive, rural sourcing or onshoring has become an appealing option. With a laptop and Internet connection, people in Rustenburg, Estcourt, and Langebaan can service projects anywhere. And, because the cost of living is substantially lower in outlying towns, there are cost-saving advantages to rural sourcing, too. Why should we drive people from Joburg or Pretoria to service a mine in Middelburg? Surely businesses in that community would benefit from doing the job themselves?   

Now, if there’s a project in the Midlands, let’s ask the big-name vendor not only to help develop 10 smaller players as part of the job, but to make sure that those small players are within a 50km radius from where the project is based. That way, we’re building small sustainable businesses, increasing job opportunities, and developing skills in previously neglected communities. If that isn’t a win, win, win, I don’t know what is.

In helping the youth, you’re helping yourself  

In 2016, Microsoft South Africa partnered with the city of Joburg to train 1 million citizens in digital literacy. An indirect benefit of this was that they probably also increased the number of Microsoft license users. This is what companies should realise: solutions like internships, innovative procurement, and active rural sourcing have the potential to change the lives of South Africa’s youth and significantly increase your bottom line. The youth of today will be the consumers of tomorrow, and if they’re going to buy your product one day, they need your help now.  

We don’t need to rely on government to incentivise strategies like this; we should be pursuing them because they are right for the economy, and right for business. Let’s let government focus on building infrastructure, improving network connections, providing proper roads, sanitation, and rubbish removal, and let businesses do what they do best – grow. As business leaders, we should focus on productivity, output, and growth, three key ingredients to economic activity. Hopefully, we’ll pass the recipe down to future leaders so they can confidently take South Africa’s economy into the future.      

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Wanted! South Africa’s most exceptional drivers for #ThankYouTrucker competition



What makes an exceptional truck driver? Is it time-keeping and being reliable? Good behaviour? Going beyond the call of duty? Excellent people skills? Outstanding driving skills? An impeccable safety record? From the variety of entries being submitted for the 2022 #ThankYouTrucker competition, it is evident that it is all of this – and more!

Launched in June, the #ThankYouTrucker competition aims to recognise and celebrate truck drivers across the country. The competition is a partnership between IVECO SA and the Road Freight Association (RFA). Entries for this year’s competition are pouring in – with fascinating, inspiring stories being shared.

Here are some of the reasons truck drivers are being nominated:

  • He has been with us since the inception of the business, which is now 15 years old. He lives and breathes trucking. The love for trucking and being on the open road pumps through his veins! Never have we met an individual who would rather be on the road, than at home with his family. He is a specialist in his field!
  • When he leaves South Africa, he has a truck load of food for the border runners and children along the way and always shares this. He always has friendly words of encouragement for others and a smile on his face.
  • He is passionate about his occupation and we are very proud he is ours!!
  • He is always on the job and always treats our customers with respect. A week ago, a lady had an accident on the N2 and he was the first person on the scene. He helped her out of her vehicle and warned oncoming traffic. A few years ago, he also helped a family who had an accident while he was on his way to make a delivery. His vehicle is always neat and he looks after his truck as if it is his own.
  • He is the best and youngest driver in the firm. He’s 24 years old this year, but the maturity in his driving is exceptional. As a long distance and short distance driver, he always finishes even the hardest loads. The future is really bright for him! He’s constantly upgrading his skills and qualifications. He once said he’s going to be the first person to obtain a degree while driving trucks full time!

“Being a top truck driver is no easy feat,” explains Martin Liebenberg, Managing Director of IVECO SA. “It requires dedication, hard work, patience, excellent technical and soft skills, ongoing training and development, a lot of sacrifices – and more! The #ThankYouTrucker competition aims to inspire our truck drivers to keep on doing their best – particularly in these challenging times.”

How to Enter

Fleet owners and managers can nominate any number of drivers they believe meet the criteria for being our top trucker. Entries close on 3 September 2022.

The winner will receive R50 000. The driver in second place will win R10 000, with the third placed driver receiving R5 000.

To enter, go to 

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Using decelerated globalisation in favour of your supply chain sourcing strategy



How SA’s motoring industry is using it to their advantage – Bidvest International Logistics gives the inside take.  

JOHANNESBURG, 20 July 2022 –  The war in Ukraine and its impact on the world economy has once again exposed the risks inherent in globalisation.

The conflict has further disrupted global supply chains already strained by the Covid-19 pandemic, and according to Simon Geale, executive vice-president at supply chain consulting firm Proxima, the deceleration of globalisation is now a certainty.

Given all that’s transpired internationally in the past two years, businesses are now near-shoring their operations in an attempt to negate issues of cargo congestion and suspension of goods and services provision globally.

The shift to new strategies emphasising local sourcing has become critical.

In June, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) reported that the continued spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant, the ongoing effects of the war in Ukraine as well as other constraints had pushed cargo volumes in South Africa to their second lowest level in the past 12 months, despite freight rates remaining astronomically high.   

Shoring up local supply networks is vital if South Africa is to keep its head above water amid speculation that another recession is imminent.

Businesses would do well to follow the example of South Africa’s automotive sector, says Bidvest International Logistics’ Supply Chain Solutions Manager, Willem Bekker.  

“South African automotive manufacturers have been implementing local sourcing strategies for years – well before the war in Ukraine or even the pandemic.

“This has been driven by the automotive industry incentive programmes put in place by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC), specifically the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP), called APDP 2 in its current form.

“In order to qualify for the significant incentives offered by this programme, the locally-based automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have had to implement increasingly high targets for sourcing locally produced content for manufacturing. This means that when it comes to local sourcing, our motor industry is in a far better position than other countries.”

The APDP is reviewed every few years. Its major impact, with its strong focus on localisation, is that it starts to create an entire value stream of locally manufactured goods and services linked to the automotive industry.

Newer versions of the policy stress activities outside of the direct manufacturing operations, such as second and third tier component suppliers, service provision, distribution and logistics systems and infrastructure.

Bekker also points out that because South Africa is  geographically isolated from major economic hubs, the cost of moving goods to the country from Europe or the US is far higher than moving goods within the US or Europe.

“This means that localisation has a significant logistics cost benefit, while also allowing far more flexibility in the supply chain through not being dependent on long global shipping lead times.”

Port and border congestion, which remains a threat to supply chains, further strengthens the case for localisation.  The BUSA report indicated that massive delays persisted on the busiest trade lanes, with an average of 17,5 days’ worth of delays on a full rotation between North-West Europe and the Far East.

According to Bekker, it is essential that clients are provided visibility into their supply chains through visualisation and tracking tools.

A May 2022 white paper by the World Economic Forum indicates there is growing demand for cross-border regional integration in southern Africa, with South Africa’s ports and borders playing a significant role.

South Africa has been proactive in this regard, introducing electronic supporting documents, a mobile application tool that allows inspection results to be captured, and a web-based platform for end-to-end processing of customs clearances.

The effect has been a reduction in the time needed for physical inspections from eight hours to two on average, a simplification of real-time customs declarations to as little as seven seconds, and halving the number of days to import goods.

Cargo scanners and electronic cargo tracking systems have also now made it possible to monitor goods in transit in real time.

The shifts occurring are all about building resilience, Bekker says. The traditional Just-in-Time model has become one that emphasises Just-in-Case as supply chains are redefined.

“You have to consider first-tier suppliers exposure to the risks you are trying to avoid. This works best by strong collaboration throughout the supply chain, building long term relationships and partnerships with key suppliers, and jointly understanding the macro-level benefits of realising a successful localisation strategy.”

Bekker says the localisation focus is likely to carry on as long as South Africa continues to assist in the development of a globally competitive motor industry.

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Historic milestone achieved: 95 women graduate with an international qualification in logistics and transport



In a major milestone for women in logistics, transport and supply chain in South Africa, 95 ladies recently graduated with an international qualification in logistics and transport. It is part of the pioneering Women Inspiring Women to Lead in Transport programme, the brainchild of Nicci Scott, founder of the Commercial Transport Academy. Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Programme will see one thousand women completing the Programme, aimed at uplifting the skills of women in management, entrepreneurship and truck driving.

The graduates – currently employed in logistics, transport and supply chain organisations across the country – underwent an intense 10-month training programme aimed at improving their knowledge, learning new skills and advancing their management and leadership abilities to secure senior-level employment.

Benefits for all

The CTA Excellence Programme has resulted in benefits – to employers, the graduates and the broader industry. Worldwide Flight Services – South Africa (WFS) is an active supporter of the Programme. “WFS now has the edge in the market, with two ladies having participated and successfully completed the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT) International Diploma in Logistics and Transport,” explains  Elvis Maleka – Operations Manager at WFS Johannesburg. “The knowledge is valuable to our organisation and to the two ladies.”

Maleka adds that the CTA’s focus on women will assist in addressing the skills gap in the industry:  “This is a gain for us as a ground handler and WFS is proud to be part of this change.”

As a result of her successful completion of the Programme, WFS’s Zethu Dlamini received a promotion from Senior Imports Team Leader to an Administration Manager for their Imports Department. For Zethu, who shared her journey, life has been full of hardships and challenges. From losing her mother at the tender age of four and her father when she was just 21 years old, Zethu has had to endure and overcome many obstacles. “If it wasn’t for this great initiative of the CTA, I would never have been able to graduate with an international Diploma. I am so grateful to WFS Managing Director Malcom Tonkin for enabling me to improve my skills and leadership abilities.”

With their CILT Diploma and industry experience, the graduates will be able to apply to carry internationally-recognised designations after their name – an increasingly important asset, given National Treasury’s initiative to professionalise the supply chain.

Top Students

Special recognition was given to the top three graduates:

  1. Jo-Anne de Jager – Solutions Manager: Unitrans Supply Chain Solutions
  2. Annah Mmatshwene Ncube – Operations Controller: Transnet Pipelines
  3. Malebo Ndamase – Policy and Planning Chief Directorate as Director: Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport

Special Awards

A special award was given to Jabulile Mtsweni, an Operations Supervisor. Jabulile was awarded funding from training provider Commerce Edge to enable her to study for the CILT International Advanced Diploma in Logistics & Transport Level 6.

Transport, logistics and supply chain play a critical role in economic development. Transport contributes 8% to the total GDP and has the ability to create four jobs per R1 million invested. “Yet transport is the least gender-transformed sector,” says Nicci Scott, CTA’s founder. “Urgent interventions on scale that have an impact, are vital. Our Women Inspiring Women to Lead in Transport Programme is one such initiative that will have a positive impact on industry transformation.”

To enrol on one of the Programmes, email [email protected]

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