Becoming a Sanlam supplier is a journey that involves proving yourself through service excellence and through hard work.
Just ask IT entrepreneur Zulfiq Isaacs. He has been a supplier to Sanlam for just under 10 years and in return has managed to secure R3 million in investment funding and business support and mentorship from the insurance provider. Isaacs, a UCT graduate, started Liquid Thought in 2001 after leaving the corporate world when he spotted a gap in the market to offer big and small businesses IT-related services.
“I saw the challenges small businesses were facing while working for a corporate and saw that I could offer IT solutions that could be sold ‘up and down’ to both big and small businesses,” says Isaacs.
Then in 2005 he started contracting to Sanlam as an IT consultant for a project.
“It took time to become a supplier. The challenge was mainly to get noticed,” says Isaacs.
He adds that it was a long journey, but because of his hard work, dedication and track record while working with various head of departments at Sanlam, he was recommended internally.
Isaacs is also one of five businesses that form part of Sanlam’s newly launched enterprise development programme, run in partnership with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (Asisa).
“We were selected to take part in the programme and had to undergo a screening process,” says Isaacs. Liquid Thought received eight months of training and mentorship as well as R3 million in funding that has to be repaid over seven years.
“Thanks to the programme, we have managed to put processes in place such as developing a handbook for staff and management reports,” says Isaacs. These things have all contributed to the business being able to employ more staff and the total of employees now sitting at 22 at both the Cape Town and Johannesburg branches.
Liquid Thought was also involved in creating Sanlam’s soon-to-be launched supplier portal.
Initially only existing Sanlam suppliers in the marketing, management and administration sectors will be able to access the online self-service tool (which allows one to update information, access tender information and to view other important supplier-related announcements).
Isaacs says his advice to prospective suppliers who want to do work for Sanlam is to promote themselves because they will need to standout to get noticed.