At the leading edge of electric motor technology and related sectors, the Zest WEG Group is also innovating its empowerment initiatives by facilitating ownership of its shares by two black owned Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) that directly benefits communities in need.
A subsidiary of the world’s leading motor and controls manufacturer WEG, the South Africa-based Zest WEG Group has taken this step to create a broader based and more sustainable ownership foundation for its compliance with the new BBBEE codes of goods practice.
Hot off the press is the announcement that the two NPOs, together with the company’s employees Trust, now hold 51.6 % of Zest WEG Electric, the South African arm of the Zest WEG Group. One of the NPOs is in the education sector and the other in the micro-enterprise support sector. Significantly, the shareholding comprises 31.68% black female beneficiaries.
Zest WEG Group CEO Louis Meiring says that not only will most of the beneficiaries of the NPOs be black women, but the arrangement will sustain the good work of these NPOs into the future.
“Significantly, the achievement of our Level 2 BBBEE status is certainly one of the best, if not the only such one, in our market sector, and we believe this initiative breaks new ground for empowerment in South Africa. It provides a model for sustainable collaboration between business and civil society while forging a more effective implementation of the original intentions of the country’s BBBEE philosophy,” he says.
Meiring says the business has always been proactive about transformation and builds the BBBEE compliance goals into its business culture.
“We previously readily achieved our Level 4 status, based on our shareholding, skills development, supplier support and community investment, and this is simply the next step in our transformation journey,” says Meiring. “Now, this ownership-related initiative takes us significantly further on our pathway as a responsible corporate citizen.”
Zest WEG Group provides a range of skills development resources to schools, universities and the broader community including teaching, equipment, financial aid and infrastructure. These aim to develop local talent and capacity, bringing young learners into the business and industry.
Juliano Vargas, Zest WEG Group’s logistics and operations director, says the organisation’s close relationships with these communities allow the identification and nurturing of talent from an early stage.
“With our double-digit growth, even through the recent downturn, our business is creating opportunities for job seekers, and we prepare them well to replenish the positions that our expansion requires,” says Vargas.
Skills are developed in-house through apprenticeships, internships and mentoring in various disciplines and are sometimes also supported with study bursaries.
“We adopt and evolve leading edge manufacturing technologies, so we need to upgrade our skill levels among all employees on an ongoing basis,” he says. “WEG in Brazil shares both their technology and their skills with us; visiting WEG factory experts conduct training for our teams regularly.”
These processes in turn promote employment equity as potential managers and leaders can be identified and developed. The company also works hard to bring small, local suppliers into the Zest WEG Group’s value chain, by developing their capacity to deliver and to become sustainable.
“Through our involvement with small business incubators, we even select and support small enterprises before they are in a position to become our suppliers,” he says. “Those that progress well may earn contracts from group companies, following which we review their performance and keep track of them to ensure that they deliver good value in their services and products.”