JOHANNESBURG — Burson Cohn & Wolfe Africa has concluded the final transaction that brings its Black shareholding to 51% for the first time.

Based on its income, the agency falls into the bracket of a Qualifying Small Enterprise under the Marketing Advertising and Communications Charter – the industry’s charter within the South Africa-wide Black Economic Empowerment policy – and is only required to have a 26% Black shareholding.

However, BCW Africa Founder and CEO, Robyn de Villiers told PRovoke that going beyond the minimum requirements was an important factor for clients: “Companies want to employ suppliers with the 51% rating, because procurement is one of the areas on which they themselves are rated. We’ve been on the highest rating for four years for our size, and the only way we could improve it was going for 51% Black shareholding.”

She added: “We believe that concluding this transaction shows our commitment not only to the needs of the country, but also to our large clients.”

The agency’s Black shareholding is held in two trusts that have been set up for the benefit of previously-disadvantaged team members, as well as the employees of other WPP companies in South Africa.

As part of BCW Africa’s ongoing commitment to its Africa network partners and to the continent’s young talent, in October the agency its 20-year-old Starting Blocks internship programme across Africa, going virtual for the first time and attracting 45 participants from 10 countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritius, Eswatini, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and South Africa.

BCW Africa now has 22 employees in its Johannesburg headquarters and more than 500 across the continent.