Raising self-awareness of what went into one’s basket of goods every month could give one a clear picture of what made up a typical basket of products, as reading the ingredients demonstrated raw material inputs for that item and what products one could manufacture, say business women Zahra and Nadia Rawjee. File photo.
Raising self-awareness of what went into one’s basket of goods every month could give one a clear picture of what made up a typical basket of products, as reading the ingredients demonstrated raw material inputs for that item and what products one could manufacture, say business women Zahra and Nadia Rawjee. File photo.

Women can play ’more meaningful role’ in FMCG

By Given Majola Time of article published Aug 3, 2021

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THE GROUND is ripe for women in manufacturing to take charge and drive localisation by playing a meaningful role in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector through capitalising on development finance incentives, says niche consulting firm Uzenzele Holdings (UH).

UH, which was founded by sisters Zahra and Nadia Rawjee in 2010, boasts more than 60 years of combined experience in business development capital raising and accessing governmental funding.

The company provides specialist professional advice in business case development, financial and economic modelling, and funding applications facilitating access to grants, incentives, equity and loans.

It partners with established and growing companies to access developmental funding from local and international development funding institutions, non-traditional financiers and commercial banks focused on growth in South Africa and other selective African countries.

The firm said yesterday that women needed to take up more space in the FMCG sector by capitalising on incentives from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (Dtic), such as the Agro-Processing Scheme and the Black Industrialist Scheme.

UH director Nadia Rawjee said there was massive room for industrialists to establish themselves within the FMCG sector.

“The country’s transformation agenda, Covid-19 shocks and recent riots across the country make the playing ground ripe for women to take charge to drive localisation by playing a meaningful role in the sector, not only in South African markets, but the broader consumer base on the continent,” said Rawjee.

She said an interesting way for women looking to grow their ventures in the FMCG sector and related industries, such as manufacturing, was to take what many considered to be a disempowering reality, being a home maker, and converting it into a pool of knowledge.

Raising self-awareness of what went into one’s basket of goods every month could give one a clear picture of what made up a typical basket of products, as reading the ingredients demonstrated raw material inputs for that item and what products one could manufacture.

Zahra Rawjee said although there was an improvement in women benefiting and taking advantage of incentives from the Dtic, it remained tipped heavily to male-owned businesses.

“What we have to remember with manufacturing is that at the end of the day incentives such as the Black Industrialist Scheme look for value addition, and right now that value addition is generally still found in male-dominated or -owned businesses. This is why partnerships play such a huge role in success,” said Zahra.

She said although the FMCG sector had been one of the more resilient sectors in the economy in recent years, this was mainly because of it was typically deemed as essential goods. She, however, warned that markets were changing, and women looking to grow their businesses in the sector needed to change along with it.

According to Zahra, businesses needed to remember that these were very different types of markets, different types of buyers, with different sets of pros and cons, and it was critical to understand who they could partner with to build strong relationships.

She said although the final product was important, building relationships with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders in the value chain were equally important.

Big brands were looking for transformed manufacturers to supply them with products – think no-name brands – and many small businesses were looking for contract manufacturers to make their own products and bring them to market.

“So we’re saying to women, the opportunities lie not only in the manufacturing of the end product, raw inputs to that product or packaging of the product, but also in the business structure itself. We encourage women to look for opportunities where they bring their expertise into an existing business in exchange for shareholding,” said Zahra.

The move to high capital-intensive industrial-type businesses could be a good option for women moving from the professional services space and having a deep understanding of professional and effective record-keeping, she said.

Her sister, Nadia, said these were critical skills for acquiring the business data required in managing a business’ day-to-day tasks and in getting ready for expansion.

UH said it expected the sector to continue to feel the brunt of Covid-19 and the recent riots, despite its resilience over the past year, as international trade continued to be disrupted from an import and export perspective.

They cautioned women to ensure that their businesses had the right structure and were always compliant in how they did business, because this could mean the difference between being in or out when it came to Dtic incentives.

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