The winners of the 4th Annual Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards, in partnership with Arena Holdings, Fetola and Cold Press Media, were announced at a hybrid event held at The Empire Conference and Events Venue in Johannesburg on November 18 2021.

This awards programme recognises companies who are making significant strides in terms of their supplier development initiatives and acknowledges corporates who go beyond the scorecard to open access, empower SMEs, foster learning, build a community of best practice and encourage a collaborative spirit within their industries and within the communities in which they operate.

It is aimed at corporates, parastatals and government institutions with an annual turnover above R50 million, who implement Supplier Development programmes within their own supply chains and are positively impacting and transforming the landscape in Supplier Development.

“At Absa we are particularly pleased that since their launch in 2018, the Supplier Development Awards have grown significantly – in their importance, number of participants and, more importantly, their impact. The Awards have truly come of age and continue to mature each and every year. It is critical now more than ever for corporates in both the public and private sectors to use their supply chains to help develop and grow small suppliers, who are the real drivers of economic growth and job creation” says Vusi Fele, Chief Procurement Officer at Absa Group.

In spite of the pandemic and riots this year, our nationwide call for applications was well received and met with 117 entries from a wide range of participants.  A shortlist of 55 applicants was narrowed down through a technical screening process, shaped by a specialist advisory panel.

“The increased interest from companies wanting to be part of the learning ecosystem and the high quality of this year’s finalists, indicates that supplier development is becoming recognised as a valuable strategic lever to drive inclusive growth”, says Catherine Wijnberg, CEO of Fetola, founding partner and technical lead of the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards.

The advisory panel played a pivotal role in shaping the Awards and their expertise helped shape and refine this year’s winners.  These key influencers in the Supplier Development and sustainability space helped ensure that the 2021 Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards continue to lead the sector. They included:

  • Bridget Fury – Head, Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies
  • Lisa Parkes – Deputy Director: Cape Catalyst, Western Cape Government
  • Lloyd Macfarlane – Managing Partner, GSA Campbell
  • Mamosa Motjope – Managing Director, Wamobu Consulting
  • Sekai Chiwandamira – Regional Chapter Manager: South Africa, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)

The Awards focus on Supplier Development strategy, projects, initiatives and integrated plans that occur within the supply chain of the corporate/government entity. Applicants go through an initial screening to pre-qualify, and then submit a comprehensive application. On careful review of submissions, 15 organizations who clearly demonstrated excellence “beyond the Scorecard” were selected as finalists. These finalists were invited to present further information to substantiate their application and answer some hard-hitting questions to convince the judges that their programme had the winning edge.

The judging process and the reasoning behind the final decisions are made public so that the lessons learned and best practice are shared. In addition, all results are benchmarked for year-on-year comparison and collated in an annual report, available on, with a view to making visible and accessible the latest information on SD practices in South Africa and beyond.

Our panel of experienced and highly competent judges were looking for winners who: demonstrate commitment to building a thriving, transformative and inclusive supply chain; embrace Supplier Development as a strategic priority and driver of competitive advantage; foster cross-sectoral and industry collaboration with diverse stakeholders; and demonstrate a quantifiable impact through their commit to best practice in the ecosystem.

The judges were selected based on their reputation, integrity and experience in the sector.  The 2021 judges included:

  • Ajay Kanjee – Financial Director, Henley Business School Africa
  • Catherine Wijnberg – CEO, Fetola and Founding Partner the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards
  • Christian Kabongo – Project Manager, IDC
  • David Mparutsa – Head: Enterprise and Supplier Development Ex SA, Absa Group
  • Rethabile Melamu – General Manager: Green Economy, The Innovation Hub
  • Elmarie Goosen – Founder, Clinic with Purpose
  • Nosipho Khonkwane – Managing Director, LEAP Enterprise Development
  • Mamosa Motjope – Managing Director, Wamobu Consulting
  • Michal Pillay – Senior Manager: Supplier Diversity, Absa Group
  • Sekai Chiwandamira – Regional Chapter Manager, South Africa Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE)
  • Vusi Fele – Chief Procurement Officer, Absa Group

The 2021 results are audited by BDO South Africa, and the winners are as follows:

THE NEWCOMER AWARD acknowledges companies that have recently initiated a new and successful strategic Supplier Development programme or project.

Winner: Uyandiswa Project Management Services

INNOVATION AWARD acknowledges companies that have shown creativity and merit in design thinking and innovation in their commitment to catalyse small supplier success.

Winner: V&A Waterfront

YOUTH FOCUS AWARD sponsored by Absa, acknowledges companies that are achieving exceptional results in supporting the success of youth-led small suppliers.

Winner:  Anglo American Zimele

WOMEN FOCUS AWARD sponsored by Cold Press Media, acknowledges companies that are achieving exceptional results in supporting the success of women-owned small suppliers.

Winner: Empact Group

RURAL AND TOWNSHIP FOCUS AWARD, acknowledges companies who have exceptional results in supporting the success of rural and township-based small suppliers.

Winner: SPAR

LOCALISATION AWARD acknowledges companies who have successfully supported local small suppliers that have notable import-substitution and/or export market potential.

Winner: Empact Group

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY SUPPLIER acknowledges initiatives that are achieving exceptional results in supporting technology-related small suppliers, or using technology as an effective tool to support small suppliers.

Winner: Exxaro Resources

RECOVERY AWARD (SPECIAL 2021 AWARD) acknowledges companies who implemented innovative and impactful strategies to ensure Supplier Development resilience during the 2020/2021 Covid-19 pandemic.

Winner: Distell

COLLABORATION AWARD sponsored by Fetola, acknowledges companies for their strategic action to develop industry relationships and foster cross-sector collaboration for the benefit of the wider ecosystem.

Winner: Tiger Brands

IMPACT AWARD acknowledges a company whose Supplier Development initiatives have been shown to substantially impact the value chain and provide evidence of scale of impact.

Winner: Anglo American Zimele

SMALL SUPPLIER AWARD sponsored by IDC, acknowledges a small supplier, nominated by their corporate supplier development partner that has excelled in accelerating their own, and their client’s success.

Winner: Stellar Agri nominated by Distell

OUTSTANDING GROWTH IN A SMALL SUPPLIER AWARD (SPECIAL AWARD) acknowledges small suppliers nominated by a corporate SD partner that have accelerated their own growth to an annual turnover of more than R50 million ($3.4 million)

Winner: MB Resources nominated by Exxaro Resources

OVERALL WINNER sponsored by Absa, is for the company that stands out as the leader in the Supplier Development in South Africa and will be an ambassador for the Awards in 2022.

Winner: Tiger Brands

For the first time since inception, the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards has been extended to include nominations from Sub-Saharan Africa.  We believe that this will inspire African companies to join the Supplier Development ecosystem and participate in the awards in future.

Judges African Recognition for Commitment to Economic Empowerment across the Supply Chain

Awarded to Debswana (Botswana)

Judges African Recognition for Commitment to Women Inclusion in the Supply Chain

Awarded to Safaricom (Kenya)

Judges African Recognition for Commitment to Localisation of the Supply Chain

Awarded to Tullow Oil (Ghana)

Judges African Recognition for Commitment to Pioneering Supplier Development

Awarded to Vodacom (Mozambique)


Digital Dialogues

Like most similar initiatives over the past 18 months, the Supplier Development Awards has had to pivot and create added value during the disruption of the pandemic.  These challenges gave rise to an ongoing and well attended series of interactive online discussions with a panel of specialists hosted by Joanne Joseph. These digital dialogues address current issues related to supplier development, like access to finance, job creation and ethics in supply chain.  For those who missed the Digital Dialogue discussions the recordings can be found at


Insiders Track Series

A new initiative introduced this year is the Insiders Track Series workshops, an ecosystem building platform linked to an exclusive and growing community of executives and procurement and supplier development professionals.   Interactive online workshops host specialists and inspirational supplier development stories, showcasing both the corporate and SME perspective with insight and commentary provided by panellists and the Insiders themselves.


To find out more Digital Dialogues, Insider Track workshops and express your interest in participating in the Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards in 2022, visit