In 2016, the Department of Trade and Industry, together with the Industrial Development Corporation, introduced the Black Industrialist Programme, which provided $160-million USD of funding to 102 black industrialists.

The programme has since created almost 18 400 jobs across agro-processing and manufacturing in South Africa.

During the programme, Faziella Allie, managing director of K-9 Pet Foods, explains how she, and the company’s partners, took a risk by buying a struggling pet food factory in 2014. Allie says K-9 was only producing 1 500 packets of pet food each day.

Allie adds, "I found K-9 and liked the concept because it was premium pet food and at this stage was imported. I thought there was a gap in the market, thinking that maybe if I can start to do some pet food myself, in the premium sector, that’s the market where it’s needed."

According to Marketplace Africa, in order to create demand, Allie realised she needed to ramp up supply and therefore needed more funding in order to expand the business.

As a 100% female and black-owned company, Allie decided to tap into the government’s Black Industrialist Programme in the hope that this would take the dog food company to new heights.

K-9 received $3.4-million USD and is now producing 20 000 packets each day in a 3 600 square metre factory in Cape Town.

"I come from an era where I knew what it’s like to be told that you’re not good enough, and not necessarily because you don’t have the capacity pride-wise, but because you’re black and you’re female. I come from that era where you put back and you had to do all the work, but you had to stand at the back of the queue," Allie says.

However, Jacquline Sibiya, CEO of Thaleka Manufacturers, says securing $2-million USD from the Black Industrialist Programme wasn’t easy and that business for her company has remained difficult. “Our biggest challenge is market access. The government thinks that they can solve our problems by just giving us funds all the time," says Sibiya.

Sibiya says she has been through many down cycles, but she’s now hedging her business by servicing Southern African Development Community countries, such as Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia.

Rob Davies, South African Minister of Trade and Industry, says he believes there will be more programmes that will encourage black-owned businesses to grow in numbers.

"I think there is an unrealised potential that exists among our people, [and] hopefully, the Black Industrialists Programme will be just one initiative that we can begin to untap," says Davies.

Marketplace Africa says, for K-9 Pet Foods, it’s on to the next challenge. Allie says she wants a larger share of the South African pet food market, which is worth almost $360-million USD.

"We need to get that 15% market share, and we’re not sure what’s going to happen thereafter. But, I mean, I’m not the type of person that can sit back and say, 'okay, I’ve done enough'. I always want to move forward and get another challenge," concludes Allie.

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