One of the most powerful contributions we can make to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is through the jobs we create and sustain and through the economic growth and investment that our business stimulates. This is why we strive to create a growing world where everyone has the opportunity to improve their livelihood.
Small and medium-sized enterprises play a critical role in supporting economic growth and job creation. Globally, they account for nearly 70% of employment1. However, many face significant challenges in starting and growing their businesses – from limited business skills and management experience to lack of access to markets and affordable financial products.
We are working to accelerate growth and social development across our value chain – from growers to retailers. We help drive agricultural productivity, innovation and resilience, supporting our growers and their communities. We are also committed to helping small retailers expand their businesses – providing the next generation of entrepreneurs across our markets with the business skills and opportunities they need to thrive.
Critical to our approach is working in partnership with others. We recognize no organization alone can address the challenges small enterprises face. We can have a greater and more sustained impact by working in collaboration across the private sector, government and civil society.
Our agriculture programs in South Africa are focused on driving competitive and sustainable volume growth behind the local production of hops, maize and barley, while also leading a transformation agenda within the broader agricultural sector. Underpinned by a strong and diverse agricultural team of agronomists and researchers, SAB maintains active contracting and development programs across the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and Kwazulu-Natal provinces, among others.
As part of the AB InBev – SAB combination in 2016, SAB committed to investing an incremental 610 million rand into agricultural development within South Africa through 2021. Investments will focus on driving four main objectives,
- Expanding barley production to 475,000 metric tons per annum (off of a 300,000 metric ton base)
- Enabling South Africa to pivot from a net importer to a net exporter of hops
- Incorporating an additional 800 emerging growers into the hops, barley and maize supply chains
- Catalyzing the creation of over 2,500 jobs within the agricultural sector
Signature programs driving the achievement of these objectives include Women in Maize, where targeted infrastructure investments are made into women owned farms that improve their productivity and profitability, and the Thrive fund investment into FarmSol, a black-owned agricultural services company focused on developing emerging growers and establishing their market access across various cropping systems within South Africa.
SAB has recently established an internal agricultural research and development organization, which will partner with SABBI (South African Barley Breeding Institute), the ARC (Agricultural Research Council) and other research partners to drive game changing advancements in variety development, crop practice and management, and innovative field and data technologies.
To provide the company with the future malting capacity required to meet consumer demand for its brands and to reduce the amount of malted barley it imports, SAB is constructing a R700 million Maltings plant next to its Alrode Brewery in Gauteng. The construction of the new plant will see the company increase its requirements for locally sourced barley by more than 30%.
The company’s focus on outsourcing key services to local businesses, and thus creating wealth for new players, is not new. In 1987 SAB introduced its owner-driver project, which saw former employees of SAB form their own companies to distribute SAB’s product brands to the trade. More than 60% of SAB deliveries are carried out by owner-drivers. The programme produces drivers who are empowered, develops sustainable businesses and jobs, and allows SAB to develop superior routes to market. Well over R3 billion has been invested in this project since inception.