The objective of the programme is to lower the cost of goods for small and emerging retailers to enable them to be competitive, thus expanding their market share and participation in the retail value chain.
Traders will be able to place their orders using paperless technology from a state-of-the-art warehouse in Mandeni, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and have their goods delivered to their shops.
Complementing the initiative is a rural banking programme spearheaded by Ithala, which will see automatic teller machines being rolled out across KZN in the form of a cashless self- service device.
The uniquely designed ATM enables the store owner to build up his financial history and deposit the cash generated from sales at the store directly into the machine, without having to travel to a bank that would otherwise have levied a fee for transacting on the account.
Shane Moodley, head of retail and business banking at Ithala SOC Limited, said: “As a pioneer in banking the unbanked in KwaZulu-Natal, we are serious about ensuring the participation of historically disadvantaged individuals in the economy. Providing them with access to basic and affordable financial services is a step in the right direction.
“Under the prevailing tough economic conditions, we are proud to be associated with a programme that proactively assists emerging black traders to thrive in the fast-moving consumer goods sector.”