B-BBEE Level 1 – Merchants remains committed to transformation
Merchants is proud to announce that it has retained its Level 1 B-BBEE rating for the second consecutive year after becoming the first major BPO provider to achieve this status in 2020. The Level 1 status is based on the 2020/2021 financial period and follows a rigorous audit by South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited verification agency, EmpowerLogic. This announcement comes at an exciting time for Merchants, as the business celebrates its 40th anniversary.
“This achievement is the direct result of our commitment to meaningful and sustainable transformation at every level of our organisation,” says Dr Sydwell Shikweni, Director of Transformation at Merchants. “Following last year’s results, we continued with unrelenting efforts to prioritise the elements of our business strategy that would further drive transformation and act as a catalyst for change within the communities in which we operate.”
Shikweni notes that these elements include enterprise and supplier development and socio-economic development initiatives. Through the audit, Merchants was awarded the maximum points for Ownership, Enterprise Development, Supplier Development and Socio-Economic Development while also being recognised beyond the maximum score with bonus points for Supplier Inclusion and Diversity.
“Our supplier strategy involves procuring and developing entrepreneurs and small businesses, and integrating them into our supply chain,” he says. This commitment was also recognised through TopCo’s Supplier and Enterprise Development Awards, where Merchants was named 2021’s Top Empowered Company.
Shikweni notes that Merchants remains committed to building and developing a diverse workforce. “Our employees, leadership team and partners are all aligned and working toward the same goals. Our transformation journey, like our business, is centred around our people.”
Similarly, Shikweni highlights that the business’ Level 1 status provides the business and its clients with a competitive advantage. “This is equally as important to our international clients as it is to our local clients,” he says, noting that the business boasts 135% procurement, 51% black ownership and 30% black female ownership.
“The journey does not stop here,” he says. “Going forward, our focus will be on intensifying our skills development efforts, as this is central to sustainable transformation, and will ensure we are playing our part in developing the country’s talent pipeline.”
Through the Merchants Academy, Shikweni explains that the business is able to drive skills development into local communities, particularly focusing on preparing youth for employment. “We are already developing strategic partnerships with organisations that share our vision, such as Social Coding SA and SA Youth – the presidential youth initiative. We continue to make progress with the Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative – where we have already provided employment opportunities for more than 170 participants.”
Merchants Group Chief Revenue Officer, Mathew Conn, notes that these efforts go beyond the B-BBEE scorecard for Merchants. “We believe that genuine transformation and empowerment goes beyond a simple tick-box exercise. While this achievement is extremely important to us as a business, Merchants remains committed to driving transformation that has a ripple effect far beyond our business and into the lives of the people who power this business, and their respective communities.”