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    NEF invests R15 million in KZN ice-cream distributor

    The National Empowerment Fund (NEF), the agency of the dti mandated to grow Black economic participation in South Africa, has invested R15 million in KwaZulu-Natal-based Sticks and Licks (t/a Ola Ice Cream Durban) to expand its ice-cream distribution business.

    Sticks and Licks, which operates as an independent distributor for Unilever SA, intends to use its funding to develop a world-class facility in Ballito, north of Durban. It has a five-year exclusive distribution agreement with Ola SA to deliver its products to its customers, which include supermarkets and garages. Ola SA delivers its products to the company, which then distributes and delivers the products to customers through a team of sales people who travel to customer sites in order to drive sales.

    The company's concessionaire Nischal Jairajh, says, "The new Ballito facility will provide for all the sales, warehousing and distribution requirements, covering as far north as Tinley Manor, Prospection in the South, Hillcrest in the West and Durban Central."

    He says the company's move from its current inland location to the Durban North coast area will increase the company's cold rooms from the current 180 pallets (or portable fridges) to 600 pallets. The funding is also expected to expand operations in line with Ola South Africa's growth strategy of 850 people per cabinet to 126 people per cabinet.

    "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."

    NEF regional manager Phakamile Madonsela says KwaZulu-Natal as a province and coastal Durban is one of the few South African areas that lend itself to a lucrative all-year ice cream business.

    "The company is supported by Unilever, a leading supplier of FMCG, with products sold in over 190 countries and used daily by over 2 billion people. Some of its popular ice cream brands include Magnum ice cream. The company also employs 171,000 people worldwide. It spends €1 billion (about R13,4 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.

    "This is a black-owned company, with a strong management team and significant operational experience ably led by Jairajh's 18 years' experience. We are confident that the company will do well."

    Jairajh adds 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."

    Since 2004, the NEF has approved funding to 519 black businesses amounting to R5,05 billion and has created an estimated 40,000 jobs, with at least 21.5% of the funded businesses owned and managed by women.

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