By Karl Socikwa, Group Executive: Market Development & Sustainability at Sanlam

The symbiotic relationship between SMMEs and SANParks is evident in the economic contributions of the country’s major national parks, estimated to be around R3 billion annually. The economic impact translates into job creation and retention within the small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) sector, benefiting local communities and fostering sustainable development.

This is a core reason that we at Sanlam were proud to announce our new groundbreaking partnership with South African National Parks (SANParks) in June this year. Through it, we aim to further boost this contribution to the economy, and transform the lives of thousands of South Africans who are directly or indirectly involved with the SMMEs that surround and support one of our nation’s most treasured and important wildlife areas.

Through the R10-million Sanlam SANParks SMME Support Programme, we’ll provide SMMEs with access to market, finance, and business development support. By creating sustainable businesses through supply chain finance, this initiative not only enriches the economic landscape but also contributes to the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity.

Another one of our seminal partnerships, the Sanlam Transformation Gauge – an annual survey which measures transformation across all sectors of the economy – found that socioeconomic development was one of the only aspects of the B-BBEE scorecard that did not improve in the 2023 study. Initiatives like this programme are still very much needed to help drive successful transformation and community upliftment in South Africa.

One of the primary objectives of the programme is to offer interest-free loans and business development support to targeted SMMEs identified in SANParks’ overall supply management plan. The programme’s implementation will be supported by I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR (IAAE), a reputable enterprise development agency experienced in empowering entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses.

The choice to begin the programme in the Kruger National Park is strategic, as it is one of the largest national parks in Africa, renowned for its rich biodiversity and captivating wildlife. By focusing on SMMEs in this region, the initiative aims to maximise its positive impact on both economic growth and conservation efforts.

The importance of SMMEs in fostering economic growth is complemented by Sanlam’s extensive socio-economic transformation strategy. Over the years, Sanlam has supported thousands of jobs through its Group Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme. The company’s significant investments in SMME development and its procurement spend on SMEs demonstrate the tangible impacts of its commitment to inclusive growth.

As we move forward, it is essential to recognise that economic growth and environmental conservation are intertwined. Sustainable development requires a delicate balance between economic progress and the preservation of natural resources. The Sanlam SANParks SMME Support Programme embodies this balance by empowering SMMEs to contribute to the preservation of South Africa’s national parks.

The Sanlam SANParks SMME Support Programme is a transformative initiative that bridges economic growth and biodiversity conservation. By empowering SMMEs with access to finance and business development support, the program fosters sustainable businesses while preserving South Africa’s natural heritage. Sanlam’s unwavering commitment to socio-economic development and SANParks’ vision for justifiable economic growth make this partnership a beacon of hope for the future. As we move forward, let us rally behind this program, celebrating the success stories that will emerge from the SMMEs thriving within the shadow of the magnificent Kruger National Park.

The success of this initiative relies on the collective efforts of Sanlam, SANParks, local communities, and the broader public and private sectors. By supporting SMMEs, we pave the way for a prosperous future that celebrates both economic growth and environmental stewardship. Together, we can create a lasting legacy that benefits generations to come, harmonising the needs of people, planet, and prosperity.

To download your copy of the 2023 Sanlam Transformation Gauge, click here

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