While Boikano Sekoane’s Chuck Chilli did not walk away as the overall winner of a Food Lover’s Market initiative, she is now a supplier for the supermarket chain. The Seeds of Change Supplier Development Programme seeks to give participants the tools they need in order to compete in the retail sector. Sikwane told Vutivi News that the programme did just that, and more.
Her orders have increased from 3000 units to 15,000 units. Sikwane said that the mentorship and guidance she received during the Bootcamp and workshops were the ultimate experience for the business she co-founded, and for her as an entrepreneur.
“They assisted us with pitching our businesses to potential investors, and taught us things like the principles and techniques of pitching, learning who you are pitching to, what message you must deliver, understanding the psychology of the buyer and a lot more,” she said. Sikwane said that she was selected as part of 60 businesses and attended a two-day webinar and the week-long boot camp, which compelled her to do a lot of homework such as business planning and management, and market strategy.
“A few months after the competition Food Lover’s Market called us and said that they would list our product in their stores under the Seeds of Change programme,” she told Vutivi News. “We did not even win as only the business to emerge at the top is guaranteed a listing of their products. “We have been supplying them since November last year, and Food Lover’s Market drastically changed the company,” she said.
Sikwane said that the business was able to employ more people, and now had four permanent staffers and 12 casual employees on call for big orders. Food Lover’s Market head of HR and sustainability, Andrew Milson, said that the programme, which was still open for new applicants, was an extension of the outlet’s passion for communities and the environment. It was also an opportunity to create employment across the country.
“Small businesses do not have access to the supplier networks and marketing tools to help grow their business,” he said. “We aim to provide the opportunity and means for small suppliers to get the tools and training they need to be successful and operate their businesses as a sustainable supplier to the retail market while making a meaningful, sustainable and long-lasting social and environmental impact in our country.” Applications for the programme are open until 14 March and can be found on the Food Lover’s Market’s website.