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Dunlop empowers township tyre traders

Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber SA (second from right), with three VIP guests at the launch of Sumitomo Rubber SA’s Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme. They are, from left, Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; Smangele Dladla, container owner of Stormza Tyres in Ntuzuma; and Councillor Sipho Kaunda, chairperson of eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development and Planning Committee.

Heeding government’s call for radical economic transformation, Sumitomo Rubber SA (Pty) Ltd has launched the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme to empower township entrepreneurs through employment creation, skills transfer and training.

Dunlop – Sumitomo Rubber SA’s iconic brand – has officially unveiled a transformational catalyst to create and grow township tyre traders.

Dunlop branded containers are transformed into tyre fitment centres and provide opportunities for unemployed youth and women to be trained and mentored in tyre sales and repair.

“By fostering greater entrepreneurial activity in townships and informal areas, the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme encourages self-employment and stimulates job creation,” Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber SA, explains.

The company had noticed there were many informal tyre businesses in the townships operating at the roadside, and some were operated out of containers. However, such businesses had little access to reputable tyre manufacturers although there was a market for professional tyre services. Meanwhile, second-hand tyres and even re-grooved tyres were in high demand.

Sandile Sithole, Felicity Sithole and Themba Thabede with Riaz Haffejee at the launch.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, we saw it as our role to make safe and high quality products available to this market and took the gap,” Haffejee says.

The Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme was the first of its kind in the tyre market, and has been a key focus area in Dunlop’s distribution channel growth strategy.

“With the support of a widely recognised brand, the container programme has already enjoyed exponential growth and success in the tyre market,” he says, adding that the Dunlop Enterprise Development Programme was initiated to develop micro-entrepreneurs trading within or serving marginalised communities.

“The informal economy is not disconnected from the first or formal economy, but functions according to different entrepreneurial rules. We have acknowledged this, and can demonstrate that through proper skills transfer and training, township tyre traders can run profitable and sustainable enterprises that offer stable self-employment and sustainable livelihoods.”

Since inception, 83 Dunlop container tyre outlets have been established in townships throughout South Africa, 17 of which are based in KwaZulu-Natal. To date, more than R50 million worth of tyres has been sold from township container outlets.

As testament to the value that the programme has imparted to her, Smangele Dladla, container owner of Stormza Tyres in Ntuzuma, spoke at the launch event. “For five years, I was a vendor selling food on the roadside. Today, I have my own business and employ two staff members,” she said.

“Since becoming a Dunlop tyre trader, my business has really taken off and I am proud to be offering top-class service with an established brand behind me. I am thankful to Dunlop for its faith in supporting me to enter a male-dominated industry.”

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa