Since its inception in 2011, the Supplier Development Fund, an investment worth R242 million towards developing Massmart’s South African-based small suppliers, has deployed funding to 183 black-owned group suppliers.

The supplier fund, set up as a condition for Walmart’s purchase of a majority stake in Massmart, focuses on areas such as farming, manufacturing and services.

Cucumber and pepper farmer Kobela Mokgohloa runs the Korema Farm in Winterveld, outside Pretoria. Mokgohloa, who is part of the supplier development fund, said the programme had helped him secure a market for his crops.

“Every farmer worries about the market. This programme has secured this part of business for me.”

Before the fund, he produced only cucumbers but has added peppers to his fresh produce.

Mokgohloa produces about 15 000 to 16 000 cucumbers a week, up from 13 000 a week before becoming part of the programme. His turnover has increased to R2.5 million a year from a previous R1.6m.

The farmer said the fund had helped him access an interest-free loan to grow his business and that he appreciated the fact that Massmart paid its suppliers within two days of receiving supplies.

“The turnaround time is perfect. It is good for cash flow consistency in the business.”

Mokgohloa is one of about 164 smallholder farmers who have benefited from this programme.

Last year total smallholder farmer sales were R4.3m.

During the same period, 800 tons of vegetables, accounting for 45 percent of total sales of the farmers, were supplied to Massmart.

The remaining 55 percent was supplied to public feeding programmes and other retailers. – Nompumelelo Magwaza