BUSINESS NEWS - Having been a first-mover and leader in the transformation of South African industry with the adoption of the first transformation charter, the fuel industry has unfortunately fallen behind.
There is recognition in the fuel industry that transformation is the responsible thing to do and that it can yield good results and growth for our country by addressing challenges of economic inclusion and representation within the industry.
In addition to the skills and experience gap that exists, the absence of role models for young people and particularly women from historically disadvantaged groups has meant that few have been inspired to participate in this industry.
Nedbank, through its Business Banking Unit, aims to lend its financial expertise to accelerate transformation of this key industry. To this end Nedbank has partnered with the fuels industry consultancy PetroCONNECT to offer finance to aspiring black franchisees participating in the PetroCONNECT Readiness Programme so they can acquire fuel stations.
Participants go through a 12-month programme of mentorship and training in fuel retail operations focusing on finance, systems and processes, technology and administration and people management.
First prize for the programme is the creation of sustainable black-owned and -managed businesses.
The timing of this initiative is key, as we believe the South African energy sector is on the cusp of significant change, with the Liquid Petroleum Sector Codes soon to come into effect. We anticipate enormous potential as the industry sets about aligning itself with legislation.
The fuel industry was also the first South African industry to agree on a transformation charter, aimed at ensuring ownership and control by approximately 25% of historically disadvantaged South Africans across the industry value chain by 2010.
The Charter for the South African Petroleum and Liquid Fuels Industry on Empowering Historically Disadvantaged South Africans in the Petroleum and Liquid Fuels Industry, known simply as the Liquid Fuels Charter, was signed in 2000.
To accelerate the pace of transformation of the energy sector Nedbank needs to facilitate the entry of a new type of entrepreneur in the fuel industry. These new entrants will be positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that arise from transformation through the charter, as well as new extraction sites that will become available.
PetroCONNECT Director Sbonelo Mbatha, who has experience in running fuel service stations, acknowledges the support he received from Nedbank when the going got tough. He attributes his desire to mentor others through the PetroCONNECT Readiness Programme to his philosophy of giving back.
Nedbank's own franchising philosophy is to understand the challenges, complexities and mutual dependencies in a franchise ecosystem and the importance of partnerships – hence our partnering with PetroCONNECT.
The bank's role will be to engage with oil companies on differentiated funding structures and identify the most viable opportunities for those companies. The bank will also assist borrowers with managing their businesses, reducing risk and improving efficiencies.
However, there is no greater endorsement than from Mbatha, who says that, as an entrepreneur, he needed a bank that understood his business and appreciated how Nedbank supported him and PetroCONNECT on their growth journey.
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