Volkswagen SA brings together black-owned suppliers

VW logo. (Odd Andersen, AFP)
VW logo. (Odd Andersen, AFP)

Cape Town - Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) wants to work with new black- and women-owned manufacturing suppliers to help South Africa reach its economic transformation goals, it said in a statement on Thursday.

This after the group hosted its first ever Black-Owned Suppliers' Day in Uitenhage where 45 companies were approved to profile themselves to the local automotive industry.

A total of 430 companies that applied to be part of the event, which was attended by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, and MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Eastern Cape, Sakhumzi Somyo. Other guests attending the day included the chief executives of Toyota, Ford and Mercedes in South Africa.

"The concept of this pioneering suppliers' day in our industry originates from Volkswagen's determination to expand its business to black-owned suppliers," said Thomas Schaefer, VWSA chairperson and managing director.

"This will ensure that we continue to support the economic transformation in South Africa."

Schaefer said Volkswagen takes the issue of procurement from black-owned suppliers as a priority from both a moral and legislative compliance perspective.

"We understand government's priority elements of the BBBEE codes and the drive for ownership."

However, he added that the group was experiencing difficulty complying with the Enterprise and Supplier Development element set out in the recently-revised BBBEE mandate.

"This is not because we do not want to, but because it is virtually impossible given the scarcity of black-owned suppliers to the local automotive industry. In our case, this is compounded by our high level of local content in the manufacture of Polo and Polo Vivo," explained Schaefer.

VWSA contacted over 100 organisations, ranging from industry associations, organised businesses, business support bodies and government agencies, to request assistance in compiling a list of potential suppliers.

The contact list included companies from other industries such as Defence/Military, Agriculture, Mining, and Information Technology. As a result of this initiative, Volkswagen now has the first ever database of potential black suppliers to the industry and government agencies associated with the automotive industry.

Said Schaefer: "The compilation of this list motivated us to organise this event in the hope of attracting new black- and women-owned manufacturing suppliers to help us meet, comply with, and earn the relevant points.

"Today is the start of a new beginning that will allow us to increase the spread of our own and the industries' supplier base, as well as grow the number of suppliers that meet the BBBEE criteria for the Enterprise and Supplier Development element."

The organisations present at the event had to have a minimum of 51% black ownership (includes coloured, indian and chinese as per BBBEE guidelines) and/or a minimum of 30% black female ownership. Another key requirement considered by VWSA was companies that are owned or managed by disabled persons or war veterans.

VWSA said in his speech Minister Davies thanked Schaefer and his team for "their vision, for showing their commitment to transformation through action, and for providing insight into the challenges that the automotive industry faces in securing relationships with black-owned suppliers".

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