Cape Town - While transformation appears to be happening at a slow pace within the overall South African economy, the fishing industry, in particular the hake trawling sector, continues to out pace many sectors in its transformation pursuits.
Over the past 10 years, the Sea Harvest Group (Sea Harvest) has been at the forefront of this ambition in the industry, propelled by its majority black ownership since 2008, when black-managed and owned Brimstone Investment Corporation Limited (Brimstone) invested over R700m to buy-out the then m ajority shareholder, Tiger Brands Limited.
Since then the group has seen itself listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and elevate its black ownership to 80% and achieve the milestone of becoming a Level 1 broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) contributor.
Through its broad-based black shareholding, Sea Harvest continues to strive to incite societal change by providing access to the formal economy to those who were previously marginalised and distribute the wealth to all its shareholders, which includes its employees.
"As a JSE-listed company, our driving force is not just generating profits. While we are in business to make money and create wealth, we want to be a part of the solution to the challenges facing South Africa," explains Sea Harvest and Brimstone Chairman, Fred Robertson.
Sea Harvest's senior and middle management is over 70% black, one of the success stories of the company's commitment to transformation.
As the company has grown over the past few years, what has been instrumental has been the transformation of Sea Harvest's workforce supported by its training and skills development (over R80 million spent since 2009) on African and Coloured designated employees.
With its holistic approach to transformation, a string of 100% black-owned businesses have also benefited from Sea Harvest's procurement policies that favour black suppliers, resulting in an annual average spend of R100 million doing business with local SMMEs on the Cape West Coast.
"Together with our procurement strategy we are proud to be a founding member of the West Coast Business Development Centre, which focuses on developing entrepreneurs by offering business advice and coaching to assist them in achieving sustained business growth," says Sea Harvest CEO, Felix Ratheb.
The company's philosophy on transformation is one that is constantly changing with the needs of the business and the industry at large. However, for the group, it's the new normal.
Robertson explains: "Our vision is to partner with government and become a leading black- owned and responsible diversified global agri-business with maximum beneficiation in our own country . We are focused on growth, sustainable jobs, developing skills and investing in new black businesses in the fishing industry and local communities."
* This article was sponsored by the Sea Harvest Group.