Matshidzula from the Coega Dairy is producing private label milk for the Shoprite Group, expanding the business from only being able to sell to the local community.

Another company, Verigreen, which was a recipient of Shoprite’s 2017 Supplier of the Year award, supplies plastic bags to the group.

With an annual turnover of R165 million, Verigreen is the only black-owned plastic manufacturing and recycling company in South Africa.

According to Shoprite, Verigreen and its brand of plastic bags, Supa Mama, empowers unemployed black women in KwaZulu-Natal through its waste collection and recycling programme.

It pays the women a premium rate for the uncontaminated plastic waste they collect, which is recycled and used to manufacture Supa Mama products.

Thina Maziya, the company’s co-owner, describes the partnership with Shoprite as a massive boost for their business.

Another entrepreneur, Edwin Mabotsa, started hydroponic farming in Windsorton in the Northern Cape, an area which was reeling after mining investment dried up. Beset by start-up difficulties, he almost gave up when Shoprite approached him to ask if he would plant cucumbers, as there was a shortage of growers.

The Tshwaraganang Hydroponics cooperative has grown from being able to supply a few crates a week 10 years ago to being a national supplier, employing 14 permanent workers.

Elias Pangane, who is a vegetable grower from the Hazyview community in Mpumalanga, has seen his business expand substantially since doing business with Shoprite.

Pangane, who started out selling vegetables to tourists and locals along the side of the road, now supplies butternut, green beans, chillies and tomatoes to stores across the group’s Gauteng division.

Each year, he has been able to supply more produce to the stores as his business continues to grow, and he now employs 30 people, some of whom are provided with a place to live on the farm.

The Matsamo Community Property Association in Mpumalanga, founded through the Land Restitution Act, has leased land to Tomahawk, which farms papayas, bananas and sub-tropical fruit and employs 1 400 people, including seasonal workers.

Matsamo Chairperson Moses Thumbatho says Tomahawk is transferring skills to the community who one day may take over farming operations.

The Matsamo Community Property Association in Mpumalanga has leased land to Tomahawk.

Shoprite invites potential suppliers to make contact on its Become a Supplier webpage.

Last year, the group invested more than R177 million in enterprise and supplier development in line with its continued commitment to giving market access to an increasing supplier base.

A large percentage of its fresh produce suppliers are small- to medium-sized businesses, with more than half of them delivering on contracts worth less than R500 000 a year.