Pernod Ricard partners with Furntech and the GDED to grow entrepreneurs in South Africa

Press Release 13/06/2022

The partnership will allow entrepreneurs to access SETA-accredited learnerships, skills programmes, and short courses in cabinet making, wood finishing, wood machining, and upholstery


Pernod Ricard, one of the world’s largest wine and spirits sellers, has partnered with the Furniture Technology Centre Trust (Furntech) and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) to develop its Thokoza-based Incubation Centre for woodwork and furniture manufacturing entrepreneurs in the area. The centre will allow these entrepreneurs to share this space, access a range of machinery, and create workshop co-ops for large scale business opportunities.

Pernod Ricard says the centre is a continuation of its successful 2021 Phakamisa ispirit campaign. The company invested R38 million into the campaign to provide South Africans with bespoke locally-made gifts inspired by some of the country's most talented makers when they bought participating Pernod Ricard brands.

Pernod Ricard says it obtained a portion of the funding to begin developing the facility from last year's initiative, which continues to help uplift local communities like Thokoza.

The Thokoza facility has already received over 80 applications from entrepreneurs in the community who attended a workshop on woodworking and furniture manufacturing held by Pernod Ricard and Furntech earlier in May.

 “We realise that small businesses form the backbone of our economy. However, cash flow and a skills shortage are still significant challenges for countless entrepreneurs in Thokoza, who feel they aren't making the profit they should,” says Gregory Leymarie – CEO, Sub-Saharan Africa, Pernod Ricard. “That’s why we're thrilled to tap into Furntech’s proven expertise in economic transformation, wealth creation, and skills development. Together, we can help entrepreneurs in this community navigate the often challenging small business landscape and unlock the large scale opportunities they have been unable to access for so long.”

Furntech has experience facilitating similar programmes throughout South Africa that have helped over 4,400 entrepreneurs start and develop their ideas into viable and sustainable businesses. The programmes have also helped create over 1,000 direct jobs and trained over 7,000 learners.

According to Pernod Ricard, Furntech’s SETA-accredited Business Technology Incubation (BTI) programme will also help entrepreneurs conceptualise, innovate, and develop their ideas into sustainable businesses through a range of award-winning courses.

Through this partnership, the Thokoza Centre will help entrepreneurs:

  • Create an enabling environment to become sustainable businesses
  • Develop business and production skills through vocational skills development initiatives
  • Operate and manage an effective and efficient administration system
  • Facilitate the creation of wealth and jobs in the community
  • Facilitate access to professional services, including business planning, funding, and access to markets

“Business incubation is recognised internationally as the key driver of economic transformation. So we’re confident that by partnering with Pernod Ricard to develop the Thokoza centre, we can make a real impact in this community,” says Michael Reddy – CEO at Furntech. “Our innovative range of programmes for individuals, start-ups, and existing businesses in the furniture and wood products sector will help entrepreneurs in Thokoza contribute to economic, gender, and race transformation in South Africa.”

Among the small business owners in attendance was Emily Masibo, founder of Sister Boss, whose business resells furniture procured through manufacturers. She struggles with the high cost of her current business model and is enthusiastic to hear how this programme will help her.

 "I was so excited to hear about the woodwork and furniture centre that Pernod Ricard and Furntech will establish in Thokoza. It will create an opportunity for us as a company to gain the skills we need to grow and make our own furniture, which will help us maximise profits,” says Masibo.

 Masibo has been running her business since 2020 and hopes the centre will connect her to large organisations that can open up new revenue streams and allow her to tap into entirely new markets.

“I think the centre will be extremely beneficial to the small businesses in this township by opening up opportunities that we didn't know were available. I also love how the programme focuses on empowering more females like myself, especially considering that women don't see woodwork as an industry they can succeed in," she adds.

Pernod Ricard says its Phakamisa ispirit campaign was the first step in establishing a sustainable environment for entrepreneurs in South Africa. The company says it plans to create five small business incubators across Gauteng in the next five years.