Printing company Lebone Litho has partnered with township SMMEs to deliver workbooks to thousands of schools across the country. Lebone Litho CEO Keith Michael said the company decided to work with independent bakkie owners and contractors as small businesses had been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the distributors received training and financial support so that they could deliver the books according to their allocated slots.
They ranged from people who owned a bakkie to small businesses with a fleet of bakkies. Michael also said that some of them were paid upfront so that they could hire additional vehicles and warehouse space to meet demands. “So far, the company has made use of 92 distributors in the Eastern Cape and 498 others countrywide,” Michael said. “Since the start of Covid-19, Lebone’s main focus has been to retain jobs and not to cut them.”
Michael said that the company identified the value of delegating transportation tasks and processes to small businesses that needed them the most. “Independent transport contractors lining up outside furniture or hardware stores hoping to get customers to use their services are a common sight in townships,” he said. “But this does not always offer a reliable source of business and income.” Michael also pointed out that the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa to corporate South Africa to help create jobs and maintain them had been heeded by his company.
So far, another 52 jobs had been created. “South Africa has at least 1.5 million informal businesses mainly in the wholesale, retail and accommodation sectors. So, building a fully functional and formal transport business by small providers can be especially challenging and even unfeasible at times,” he explained. Zukiswa Mpondonqe, who is the director of Iliqhayiya and one of the distributors, applauded the initiative.
“As an African female, this project brought back my dignity,” she said. “As a single mother, I am now able to provide for my family’s needs as well as pay for my daughter’s tuition fees.” Spectra Upfront, another distributor that supplies scholar material, noted the positive changes the opportunity afforded it. Thanks to the initiative, the business has been able to employ 21 full-time staff as well as 30 temporary employees. And due to a sustainable income, it has purchased extra delivery vehicles.