The annual initiative was launched by Food Lover's three years ago, driven by the company's acknowledgment of the need to source local suppliers, specifically small businesses, that have integrated social change into the core of their operations.
“We are deeply passionate about our communities, and Seeds of Change is a natural extension of this. We realise that there is a big gap between launching a product and then being able to scale up through the engine of a big retailer like Food Lover’s Market. Seeds of Change connects those dots while enabling us to discover exciting fresh products and services that will delight our customers,” says Terri Coppin-Harris, culture and communication manager for the Food Lover’s Market Group.
“This is an opportunity to create employment and make a social impact across South Africa. We are looking for suppliers that mirror these socially focused values, are passionate about retail and are motivated to deliver the best quality product or service.”
As an emerging sector, social enterprises work to solve many of the prevalent social and environmental problems in South Africa while contributing to economic growth and job creation. Unfortunately, this sector is still not prioritised as a key driver in the South African economy, notes Food Lover's, which aims to challenge this mindset by presenting a unique opportunity for social enterprises to become part of the corporate supply chain.
Applications to the Seeds of Change Supplier Development Partnership open on 13 March 2023 and close on 17 April 2023. A free-to-attend introductory webinar will be held on 22 March to assist aspiring applicants in asking any questions about the entry process.
The top 10 applicants will be announced on 15 May 2022 and they will attend a four-day bootcamp between 19 and 22 June 2023 at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town. In this bootcamp, they will receive the guidance, mentorship and necessary skills to market their business. They will also be exposed to a macro view of the global and South African retail landscape, including trends, challenges and opportunities within the sector.
The top 10 businesses will then do a final 'Fertile Ground' pitch to the Food Lover’s Market board on 23 June 2023, and the successful applicant will be announced on the same day.
Food Lover’s Market is interested in social enterprises that positively impact their communities. The retailer will also prioritise applications from businesses that will add value to the Food Lover’s Market shopping experience, such as smallholder farmers, freight businesses, commercial services, and produce and products that sit within in-store departments such as bakery, confectionery, groceries and liquor.
Some of the requirements to apply include:
Seeds of Change will be facilitated by the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA), a specialist learning and development organisation supporting social change organisations in South Africa. With a proven track record globally, SEA has extensive experience with social enterprise models from South Africa and around the world.
Concludes Coppin-Harris, “We have seen some exciting businesses come through in the last two years and discovered a few social enterprise gems; we believe this year will be no different. Anyone who owns a business with social impact and a retail product suitable to be sold at a Food Lover’s Market should consider entering. If you have any hesitation, consider joining the webinar on 22 March as it will certainly clear up any questions you may have.”
Interested social enterprises may apply online here.