As we commemorate Human Rights Day we remember the price paid for our treasured rights almost 60 years ago when police fired on a peaceful crowd that gathered to protest the Pass laws. This makes me reflect on the power of coming together to effect change for the benefit of many – there is power in collaboration.

I am passionate about collaboration, and as a founding partner of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards, which recognise excellence in Supplier Development, I have aimed to make this a platform for partnership and learning in the Supplier Development space.

Too often we hear media, government and working groups portraying business as the baddie, the exploiter of people, the white monopoly capital. As a business owner myself, I find this to be untrue. As business is the only driver of growth in the economy it is also extremely unhelpful to foment such a negative story. I worked with my partners to design something that gave business a chance to tell their good story, by identifying corporates that are going beyond the scorecard and creating amazing growth opportunities for small suppliers.

Big business can drive enormous positive impact through their supply chain initiatives and there is great power in collaboration in this sector – power of collaborating with suppliers to accelerate improvements across the value chain and power in collaboration across organisations within the Supplier Development ecosystem to share lessons, encourage best practice, and to focus on issues that are relevant and import to the collective. This transforms our supply chains and fosters resilience of economy.

One organisation who shares this passion is last year’s overall winner, Massmart, who believe that collaboration can drive the greatest value and impact in industry. Massmart’s Supplier Development programme impressed the judges and proved that they are truly committed to empowerment. Check out this short video clip where Brian Leroni, Group Corporate Affairs Executive at Massmart Holdings speaks about this lever for change!

Don’t miss an opportunity to be part of this amazing process today. You can enter here. Entries close on March 25.


Watch the video here:



In a perfect world, there would be no poverty, unemployment or wealth gap. Our reality is far different.

South Africa has one of the most unequal societies in the world. More than 50% of our population live on less than R1000 a month and 27% are unemployed.  It has been touted that by 2030, small businesses will be responsible for creating 90% of jobs in South Africa, but even with a R32 billion annual spend on enterprise development, three out of four businesses fail within the first few years and just 10% will be around for more than a decade.

We are at a crisis level, and unless we stimulate the economy and create real opportunities for small, black-owned businesses to enter the market, we are in real trouble. Couple that with the country’s shrinking customer base and you will realise that we need to do more to have a lasting impact.  

More businesses need to move beyond the legal imperative and realise they have a corporate and social responsibility to transform their supply chain. More businesses need to diversify procurement and actively engage in real Enterprise and Supplier Development initiatives.

More businesses need to realise that not every business is ready for the aggressive demands of a supply chain and that Supplier Development must be a hand-in-hand journey where big business and SMEs work together towards a common goal.

One woman who understands the ‘together is better’ approach is Catherine Wijnberg, the CEO and founder of Fetola, a business development company and an advocate of economic transformation through small businesses and supplier development. “Supplier Development is a way to build future strategic advantage and, when coupled with stronger industry networks and a long-term view on supporting the successful growth of small suppliers, this results in future competitive advantage and a better future for all,” says Wijnberg.

Supplier Development is not easy, it has become a tedious tick-box exercise, with a lot of money spent on programmes that have not been effective. Wijnberg championed the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards Programme last year, to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary steps companies have taken to build diverse and thriving supply chains. The Awards aimed to recognise those companies that are doing it right, showcased winners having a profound impact in this area, moving beyond the scorecard and showing return on investment far exceeding the cost of seeing BEE as yet another tax.  

Winners, Massmart, Hatch Africa, Reapso and Sappi, won awards for their innovative and bold solutions. These companies stood out from the pack because they made Supplier Development part of their company culture and long-term strategy. In this way both suppliers and corporate have a vested interest in the success of their long-term relationship.  They realised that suppliers are integral to their success. With clear, focused and well-delivered programmes they take a long-term view of these commercially valuable relationships that generate genuine opportunity both for the corporate and for the small supplier.

Catherine Wijnberg believes that to transform and build a resilient economy and futureproof our country collaboration is an essential ingredient in any Supplier Development strategy, and that by building a strong ecosystem we will see the results of true economic transformation, felt by generations to come.

“For this reason, the awards offered more value than just the winner’s podium but also gave delegates the opportunity to learn from one another, build partnerships and network with those leading the way in this field,” she adds.

Indeed, many South African businesses recognise that Supplier Development especially is a rapidly evolving space and mechanism for advancement of inclusive growth. They realise that skills transfer, mentoring and market access are essential elements to building capacity and that relationships and collaboration are key, after all successful businesses thrive on successful partnerships – because regardless of the size, you do business with individuals, with people.

Okay, January is done already, and a review of the year’s intentions finds me wanting. Grand plans for new results are already slipping as the pressure of daily life builds up.

But, luckily, just before I beat myself to a pulp over this, I read the book Originals by Adam Grant, in which he poses the argument that ”procrastination serves to provide a platform for creativity”. He gives some great illustrating examples, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting ‘Mona Lisa’ that took 21 years to complete, and Martin Luther King’s shape-shifting “I have a dream” speech was a last-minute, on-the-spot addition to his bold narrative.

Grant goes on to say that tasks which are done immediately, under pressure and ‘to the rule’ result in in-the-box thinking, and those that are completed with less haste result in creative, innovative flair.

This is food for thought in a world where innovation seems increasingly held as the holy grail of success. Which makes one ponder if this implies that in future successful businesses will be those infused with the ongoing chaos of last-minute-itis? I don’t think so. I hope not!

Innovation is a deliberate culture and a measured intention. It requires the permission to try (and to fail) with the breathing space for teams to think in fresh and creative ways. But this needs to be coupled with structure and systems if ideas are to be turned into tangible results.

As the wise man says “no one ever got rich from a good idea – it’s the implementation of it that counts”, the answer is to place a value on fresh thinking and innovation by rewarding it, and couple creative teams to strong commercial minds in order to make the right things happen.

In this issue, we look at innovation in its various forms and we start with a small business, Water Chemicals & Technology, who is dedicated to protecting our most valuable resource.

We look at successful businesses that started with nothing but gave themselves some time to grow. 2019 is well on its way and it’s time we all get stuck into our budgeting plan – both personal and business.

Click here to read more about this issue of The Catalyst.

Catherine Wijnberg

Fetola CEO

Oh, yeah baby, bring it on!

December is halfway done, and the year a few days from over.  It’s time to breathe in some deep holiday breaths and recharge for 2019. Time to swop the stuffy suits for a swimming cozi and elbow out team talks for cricket, walks on the beach, and braais with family & friends.

I love the South African tradition of ‘total shutdown’ over this season (with apologies to my friends for whom this is the busiest period; your time at the beach will come later).  Research says that holidays of three weeks have a greater impact than little ones, so thumbs up to that!

Personally, my favourite holiday activity is a New Year hike – walking out of one year into the next, shedding the skin of the past as I go. Traditionally one reaches a point around day three when the roles of mother, daughter, employer, partner, etc, fall away, and one is left with the beautiful, liberating question: “Who am I really?”.

This year in my quiet moments I shall be pondering the question: “What if I reached my full potential?” and working on ways to shed the blanket of fear that keeps the mind dodging away from the answers. I look forward to an ongoing diet of uplifting books such as the Power of the Subconscious Mind (Joseph Murphy PhD), Becoming (Michelle Obama), 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (Yuval Noah Harari), and definitely Start with Why (Simon Sinek)

My hope is that this edition of Catalyst will bring some new thinking and unlock expansive thought for you too, for 2019 promises to be an amazing year – filled with possibility.

In this edition of Catalyst, we tour the country and visit some different attractions and how you can do so while reducing your carbon footprint, and we help you prepare for seasonal dips and spikes. The SAB Foundation released an impact report which highlights the Tholoana Programme and the great things the entrepreneurs on the programme have achieved. It’s a great read!

Click here to read more about this issue of The Catalyst.

Catherine Wijnberg

Fetola CEO

Growing up on a plot gave Lilian Kokera her green fingers. “My parents raised chickens and pigs that they sold to the church and around the community,” she explains.

Read more

Arthur Sithole, 32, shows that vision and an appetite for risk pays off.

Read more

When asked what their advice to aspiring business owners is, many entrepreneurs agree that if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.

Read more

Nkashi Mphahlele (28) has always known that he is an entrepreneur at heart. However, he wanted to impress his parents and studied for a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Chemical Technology.

Read more

Gerold Keffers is proof that hard work, persistence, and self-belief — values he lives by — pay off. He went from working as a security guard at a winery to a driver at a wine tank manufacturing company, Velo SPA, where he rose to the rank of chief technician.

Read more

Growing up Mbudzeni Musie says that many nursery schools in Venda were run like a babysitting service instead of institutions for nurturing early childhood development.

Read more