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The dynamism in South African township’s economic
activity is often trapped by the illusion, that it is a narrow band of
informal activities who have little to no returns for corporates in
South Africa. This is a myth that PPC is aggressively working against,
as we continue to leverage our 128 year experience within the
community and provide sustainable value for all our stakeholders. Lead
by the PPC sales team, brick makers in the township have now begun to
ask for the PPC brand by name.

PPC’s outlook on township economic development is anchored in the
business’ ongoing efforts to empower the community to experience a
better quality of life. We understand that South Africa’s highly
concentrated core economy may seem far removed from the challenges of
confronting township entrepreneurs. As detailed in the National
Treasury’s Cities Support Programme: the wider economy frames the
competitive context in that township entrepreneurs operate as it has a
direct consequence for the nature of opportunities within township
operations. The production of bricks and cement products no longer
needs to seem like the sole task of corporates. As an African
operation, PPC has seen a positive impact on small enterprises in the
rest of Africa, thereby reducing the transportation and overall costs
of products manufactured/provided to the townships. For this reason,
we maintain that improved access to raw materials and education on the
right product for purpose to brick makers has strengthened the
township economy.

We understand that the challenge for local entrepreneurs is to
understand this competitive context and to find ways to differentiate
their products, to add value in some way – including from convenience
– and to identify niche opportunities not already taken. In practice,
this is where the successful action in townships can be found. The
thriving brick makers in Venda are one example:
with consumers willing to pay for building materials from a hardware
store like SB Hardware, Mathacs Civils, and Munzhedzi Brickyard.
These PPC customers offer a collective building solution to the
community that has provided visible employment prospects. With 100%
locally manufactured products such as doors, window frames, bricks and
cement readily available, the adoption of local products, following a
concerted effort by PPC to improve the quality of all cement products
provided, is noteworthy.

Our people understand what they can do with their hands to achieve
their home development goals. Skills such as brick making and roofing
are passed down from generation to generation giving them confidence
in their ability to sustain their families. To live up to our brand
ethos of ‘Strength Beyond’, PPC’s brick-making workshops have vastly
improved the skills of local brick-makers, enabling them to understand
the science of accurate mixing of all the necessary materials to
produce great quality bricks, thus running their brick-making business
efficiently and profitably.

The workshops are led by PPC technical specialists, who pass on their
technical knowledge to offer individual brick-makers the required
support to grow and manage their businesses effectively.
With ongoing mentoring to complement the technical expertise that is
transferred at the workshop, we have been able to instill the fact
that better quality bricks make better houses which ultimately results
in a more stable community.

The National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme: Township Economic
Series clearly states that manufacturing activities continue to be
notably limited in the townships, along with the jobs and business
services that are often associated with their presence. Those that
exist are rarely linked into value chains or markets outside the
township and most jobs are considered informal and precarious. For
township entrepreneurs, residents provide an obvious target market.
PPC understands that South Africans have limited disposable income and
buy a predictable range of goods, making the income available for
building supplies/projects discretionary.

We believe that the informality of brick makers in the country is not
a constraint to their growth, nor do township enterprises have to
limit their horizons to township markets. We have witnessed their
direct sales within the township market which offers a sufficient
scale of demand. For those who progress into a more formal business
operation, the township market may become a limiting framework.
PPC’s access to a wider market positions us as a partner that is well
placed to educate and empower them on engagements with hardware stores
and/or additional access to retail intermediaries/construction

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