The next time you find yourself in the warm Durban and cooling down via Ola Ice Cream; take a moment of pause; because you will be more likely licking part of an impressive black economic empowerment (BEE) story.
It is the story of Sticks and Licks, an independent Durban based sales and distributing firm that has a contract with Unilever’s Ola Ice Cream. This is a big deal for the black owned operation as reflecting an embrace its operational expertise and sales power by the global supplier of fast moving consumer goods, Unilever.
Sticks and Licks has been operating a freezing facility from Pinetown for eight years and has advanced to meet an expansion need. This is on the back of a five years contract with Ola Ice Cream. The ice cream specialist, Ola, delivers its products to Sticks and Licks, which then drives sales and distribution of the products to customers.
Armed with R15m funding from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), Sticks and Licks is taking a giant leap. The enterprise resolved to develop a new and bigger storage and distribution facility in Ballito, North of Durban.
Sticks and Licks executive Nischal Jairajh said “after eight successful years based in Pinetown, the move will provide for the additional capacity requirements and long-term growth and development of the business whilst at the same time reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact”.
Jairajh said the move will increase the company’s cold rooms from the current 180 pallets -portable fridges- to 600 pallets.
“The new Ballito facility will provide for all the Sales, Warehousing and Distribution requirements of Ola Ice Cream, covering as far north as Tinley Manor, Prospection in the South, Hillcrest in the West and Durban Central,” said Jairajh.
He added that the new facility will create additional employment opportunities for those living in the surrounding areas. “Our vision is to become the preferred sales and distribution company in Durban, delivering this in a socially responsible manner by empowering and growing our people with sustainable business opportunities.”
The NEF said it jumped into the ice cream deal after realising a good and sustainable empowerment story. The NEF, an agency of the department of trade and industry was established in 1998 with the mandate of fuelling BEE. In the past nine years the NEF has approved funding to a total of 519 black businesses amounting to about R5billion.
NEF KwaZulu-Natal regional manager Phakamile Madonsela points to the fact in addition to the BEE credentials the fundamentals in Sticks and Licks business are solid. The coastal Durban is one of the few South African areas that lend itself to a lucrative all-year ice cream business, said Madonsela. “Sticks and Licks is supported by Unilever which has products sold in over 190 countries and used daily by over 2 billion people”.
He further pointed out that Unilever which is backed by 171 000 employees worldwide, spends €1 billion in research and development worldwide. Of the total group revenue of €46.5 billion (R623.3 billion) in 2011, the ice-cream business contributed about 19% to group revenue.
“Sticks and Licks is a black-owned company with a strong management team and significant operational experience ably led by Mr Jairajh’s 18 years’ experience. We are confident that the company will do well” said Madonsela.