A thriving supplier development programme between Enterprise Development from Absa Bank Ltd (Absa), member of Barclays, and Massmart has been expanding access to opportunities for entrepreneurs in Gauteng by deploying funding to black-owned suppliers.

As a result, a R6,5 million deal has been secured to support Biscotti Biscuits’ new owner, Bheki Zondo to take on the biscuit sector’s giants at key stages of his development.

Zondo has doubled his workforce from 35 to 70 staff and added an extra shift to keep up with demand from his corporate clients such as Pick n’ Pay, Spar, SAA, Chipkins, Famous Brands and Netflorist. This has had a direct impact on the local community in Duncanville, Johannesburg as more than 100 family members are supported through the new jobs.

Absa is the only financial partner supporting the Massmart Supplier Development Programme , while the R6,5 million deal concluded last year includes a R5 million loan from Enterprise Development with Massmart guaranteeing 50% of the loan. The balance is covered by Absa. A R1,45 million grant was provided by Massmart to upgrade the biscuit factory and ensure compliance with food safety standards.

Oscar Siziba, Provincial Head of Business Banking for Absa in Gauteng says: “In teaming up with Massmart, through the supplier development programme, we are able to build businesses that create income and opportunity. This is vital to champion economic activity and social cohesion in Gauteng.”

Childhood dream

He adds: “This is why enterprise development is an important pillar for us and we are proud to have opened the doors to Biscotti Biscuit’s prosperity in our mission to continue to make a difference in this sector.”

As a participant of the Massmart Supplier Development Programme, Biscotti Biscuits has been assisted with listing its products in Massmart stores. Makro has grown sales to 3000 units per month. Game will stock Biscotti products from July 2015. The company is still in discussion with Cambridge Foods.

“It has been a childhood dream of mine to run my own business. Today this is a reality thanks to Absa and Massmart. All this success has fuelled our plans for expansion. New on-the-go Cantucci biscuits - Italian style made biscuits with almonds - will round out our portfolio and are currently being piloted in Makro,” says Bheki Zondo, owner of Biscotti Biscuits.

Zondo is a qualified chemical engineer who took over the biscuit factory from the Italian Valle family in 2014.