Johannesburg - Procurement Chief at Woolworths Yogan Naidu has a passion for innovation, equality and job creation in South Africa. After just eight months in his position as head of Non-Trade Procurement, he has made significant contributions to the leading retailer's transformation objectives.
“People tend to misunderstand the role of employees in procurement, and underestimate the power and abilities that they possess. It is also a misunderstanding that the role is just about looking at quotes and securing items,” he told Fin24. "There is a huge opportunity procuers to level the playing fields in business. "
He said Procurement Heads in large companies around the country had the power to create employment, fight poverty and positively shift the South African economy through securing products and services of small black-owned companies as well as small and medium enterprises.
A procurement veteran, Naidu seen first hand how handling procurement correctly could make a marked difference. Prior to his appointment at Woolworths, he was employed as procurement executive at Nedbank. He also headed up procurement for Citi Bank SE Africa. In addition he was products and services and manager at Hollard.
With his particular skillset and vast experience, Naidu hopes to advance Woolworths' own vision to move South Africa forward.
Itumeleng Matshego, director of tracking solutions company Legratron Electronics and public speaker on small business and innovation agreed. He said that procurement was a fundamental aspect of any business.
“Procurement heads should drive SMME procurement policies and attitude within their organisations, because it is through collective economic participation by both big and small business that will see everyone thriving," he told Fin24.
“Acquiring the right products at the right time from the right supplier at a competitive price contributes to the bottom line. When big businesses partner with small and medium enterprises through procurement, they directly create economically active citizens,” said Matshego.
He explained that the Benefits of big business focusing their procurement policies on small businesses, had a knock-on effect. "It leads to growth stimulation through direct job creation, workforce transformation, business innovation, emergence of new services and industries and contribution to GDP growth."
But Matshego emphasised that small businesses also had to deliver on the promises they made.
Woolworths' new K9 Pet Foods is one of its success stories. Recently the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), Woolworths and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) opened the doors of the new 3 600 m² pet food factory in the Western Cape. The project is part of Woolworths’ commitment to contribute meaningfully to socio-economic transformation in South Africa.
After working in pet food production for 20 years, aspiring entrepreneur, Fazielah Allie, Managing Director at K9, purchased a small and struggling business specialising in frozen pet food in 2014.
Having worked with Woolworths before, Fazielah approached the company in the hopes of advancing her new business and securing a partnership agreement. With three black women at the helm, K9 Pet Foods was in line with the Woolworths Enterprise & Supplier Development programme. The programme matches potential black-owned businesses to opportunities in the Woolworths supplier base.
Naidu's aim is to create more success stories similar to K9. His advice to achieve career is to persevere, be confident and humble in approach. “You have to put your head down and work, because nothing beats hard work. But always stay true to yourself. These kinds of traits have worked for me in many positions."
With his robust financial background in procurement, Naidu strives to lead a balanced lifestyle, making time for sport and family. He boasts South African colours in a number of sports, and enjoys spending time with his two daughters.