PPC’s outlook on economic development
South Africa’s township economic activity dynamism 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 that township entrepreneurs operate which has a direct consequence for the nature of opportunities within their operations.”
The Role of PPC’s workshops in the township
The production of bricks and cement products no longer needs to seem like the sole task of corporates. As an African construction operation, PPC has seen a positive impact on small enterprises in the rest of Africa, thus 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 the right 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 we find successful action in townships. 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 the importance of 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, helping them to run their brick-making business efficiently and profitably.”
“The workshops are said to be led by PPC technical specialists, who pass on their technical knowledge to offer individual brick-makers the 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 reiterate 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 further 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, surrounding 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 non-compulsory.
“Moreover, 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 sufficient balance in demand.”
“For those who progress into more formal business performance, 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 projects.”