De Beers adds shine to its empowerment lustre

CAPE TOWN — De Beers obviously believes that by teaching others to cut and polish their diamonds, the entire industry will benefit, not to mention the reflective shine they get when their students excel globally. This is a story of genuine empowerment, given that almost half the five Black South African-owned diamond cutting and polishing companies involved are led by women, and that all have seen significant turnover growth since the mentorship started. Partnering with a business incubation company that imparts corporate acumen and entrepreneurial skills, De Beers is helping the smaller outfits succeed to provide more and more jobs as they grow. Again, it’s all about selecting companies with inherent potential, careful program design and constant monitoring and adjustment. A million miles from cadre deployment, racial company fronting and politically-correct appearance. This is about outcomes and doing what it takes to make it work – and that requires serious corporate commitment and dedication to the long-haul.’ This is a good example of how South Africa will get back on its feet. – Chris Bateman

De Beers media statement

De Beers Group today celebrated the successful conclusion of the first phase of its Enterprise Development Project for Diamond Beneficiators pilot project last night, with five Black South African owned diamond and cutting companies graduating from their entrepreneurial development programme.

The three-year programme, facilitated by De Beers Sightholder Sales South Africa (DBSSSA) in partnership with business incubation experts Raizcorp, included formal, curriculum based learning in parallel with mentorship in business strategy, finance, sales, marketing and personal development. All participating owners have subsequently demonstrated significant growth in the knowledge and skills required to run successful businesses.

Launched in 2016, the Enterprise Development Project for Diamond Beneficiators, aims to facilitate the growth and transformation of the diamond cutting and polishing industry in South Africa, with a holistic approach that seeks to optimise interventions in all aspects of the diamond pipeline from rough diamond purchasing, state of the art manufacturing to marketing and distribution.

Also read: De Beers dropped an ‘atom bomb’ on the lab-grown diamond industry

As part of the programme, each participating company received an allocation of rough diamonds from De Beers, in line with their market requirements and capacity. In addition, the project has facilitated local and international market access for the five companies and sponsored their participation at international trade shows, including the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair and JCK Las Vegas.

Through the business acumen and entrepreneurship skills acquired from the De Beers sponsored Raizcorp programme, the companies have seen significant turnover growth and new jobs have been created.

The project also proved ground breaking in its support for women in the diamond cutting and polishing industry, with two of the five participating companies being 100% women owned, another 50% woman owned.

Peter Phemelo Moeti, Senior Vice President of DBSSSA, said: “Diamond cutting and polishing is a science, an art, a passion – the turning of an ancient resource into something truly brilliant. We believe that this project gives South Africans the opportunity to play their full part in unlocking the beauty and everlasting value from their most precious resource. I am very proud of our project members and the passion they have for this industry. They have become experts in telling good stories about diamond beneficiation in our country. Well done to all of them for reaching this point in their journey.”

Thoko Zwane, project member and owner of Thoko’s Diamonds, said: “Having completed the programme, I am a better person and business women. My team and I are more efficient and effective in the way we manage ourselves and handle the business. I would like to thank De Beers and Raizcorp for giving me this opportunity.”

Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp, said: “The De Beers entrepreneurial development programme is very important for the diamond industry and represents an authentic first step in transforming the industry. I have been extremely impressed by De Beers’ high level of management and leadership involvement in the programme, and their care and attention to detail. The results of the programme have been excellent. I believe this is largely owing to the careful selection of the five participating companies, as well as the design of the programme and the continuous input to the programme design from De Beers. Our graduating entrepreneurs are totally committed and have excelled.”

De Beers Group is in the process of reviewing the project with the aim to securing strategic partners to ensure the project takes its rightful place as an industry wide project in South Africa.