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Astron Energy to leverage Development Fund to assist SMMEs in key sectors supply chain

Thabiet Booley, CEO of Astron Energy

18th May 2023


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As economic recovery continues to ramp up post the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a huge push to drive the South African economy back to pre-pandemic productivity levels.

Astron Energy forms a significant part of the economy and the recovery journey. The fuel giant operates the second largest network of retail service sites in South Africa and the Astron Energy Refinery in Milnerton, Cape Town, which is positioned to play a key supply role in all key sectors of the SA economy.

The Company’s robust manufacturing and fuel storage infrastructure: boasting a lubricants manufacturing plant in Durban, 15 fuel storage terminals, and 180 commercial and industrial sites.

Astron Energy continually assesses how it can support key sectors through innovation in products and processes that boost sustainable and ascendable economic growth. The organisation supports the broader move to decarbonisation and also greater adherence to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals to the benefit of people, communities, our environment, and ultimately a sustainable future.

According to Thabiet Booley, CEO of Astron Energy, a key element for the Company will be the impact of its recently launched Astron Energy Development Fund (AEDF).

The R220 million development fund is intended to empower small businesses in the Astron Energy value chain and its linked communities. 

The Astron Energy value chain includes, but is not limited to, mining, transport, construction and maintenance services; electricity and alternative energy sources; engineering and other professional services; environmental services; finance, legal, HR and IT; retail network support; health and safety, including protective gear; and warehouse logistics, 

At the launch of the Fund in Cape Town in December, Booley hailed it as a “milestone in the organisation’s transformation journey”.

“The launch of the AEDF is the next major step for us as a company committed to making a meaningful difference in the communities in which we operate,” he said.

The AEDF was set up in line with commitments made to the Department of Trade Industry and Competition and seeks to create sustainable and meaningful change and prosperity for small businesses along the Astron Energy value chain, including the critical mining sector.

“We understand that the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (SMME) sector is crucial to economic growth, job creation and shared prosperity in South Africa,” he added.

“Where Astron Energy products, supplies, and services support and intersect with the mining sector value chain, we will look to see how we can leverage the AEDF to support the establishment or growth of existing or potential sustainable local SMMEs, particularly in under-resourced communities around our facilities.” 

The Astron Energy Development Fund has three flagship programmes:

Growing Emerging Businesses

Astron Energy will support new or existing small businesses in the fuel and lubricants value chain through the provision of preferential rate development loans and/or business development support.* Priority will be given to beneficiaries from disadvantaged groups, e.g., as a result of race, gender, disability, youth and rural location, but no race group will be excluded. Black owned businesses in the refinery By-Products (LPG & Bitumen) and Retail sectors of the liquid fuel value chain are a focus area.

Small Business Support

Distress or bridging finance together with business development support* for key small business suppliers and retailers from disadvantaged groups.

*Business development support extends to training and mentoring in the areas of leadership, strategy, marketing, safety standards, as well as the provision of finance, tax, legal and other services to help establish a firm foundation for each business.

Growing our communities

This programme is focused on the communities in and around the Astron Energy facilities and those of key customers. The AEDF has partnered with two NGO organisations, ORT SA and gold Youth Development Agency, to develop life, digital and entrepreneurial skills in targeted high school students and unemployed youth to empower them towards a sustainable future through greater employability and the skills to become business owners. A further aspect of this programme is to support micro business incubation through grants, the development of business skills for micro/small business owners and the formalisation of micro/small businesses so that they can compete for funding/investment.

According to Booley, the launch of the AEDF is over and above the R100 million in interest-free loans granted to small black-owned enterprises through the company’s Enterprise & Supplier Development Fund which has been going since 2015 and remains a priority programme for the company. 

Earlier in 2022, Astron Energy also launched its innovative SMME Portal that assists small businesses to access procurement and funding opportunities at Astron Energy.

“The Astron Energy Development Fund is a key part of our efforts to help create a better, more prosperous and inclusive future for all our people and the communities in which the organisation is invested,” Booley concluded.

The launch of the Astron Energy Development Fund coincided with a hugely exciting period for the Company as it embarked on the rebranding of its network of over 800 Caltex service stations in South Africa and Botswana as well as all other key Company assets, adopting a single name and corporate identity.

“All of these key initiatives are part of our efforts to ensure we address the changing needs of our customers, showing that we understand and are able to get behind and support their growth ambitions. These initiatives and investments are a testimony to our long-term commitment to be part of South Africa’s recovery journey.

  • To read more about the AEDF and eligibility requirements, or to apply for AEDF support, please visit the SMME Portal: Astron| SMME Portal


Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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