Why the Proudly SA initiative is Now More Relevant than Ever

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The Proudly South African initiative has, in recent years, undergone significant changes.

Widely recognised by consumers by the South African flag inspired logo, the initiative which works to increase the availability and visibility of locally made products on major retailers’ shelves, has recently partnered with a number of large retailers and their Supplier Development Programmes.

Proudly South African CEO, Eustace Mashimbye.

“We see the campaign as a collective effort between the private and public sectors and the consumer,” says Proudly South African CEO, Eustace Mashimbye.

“The campaign has undergone a complete rejuvenation in the last couple of years and is gaining more and more visibility and attracting more members both big and small. Our partnership with the enterprise development programmes of companies such as NestleSA, Tsogo Sun and Massmart has brought in new thriving entrepreneurs and seen them become part of the campaign,” he says.

Last year, their partnership with Massmart saw 33 local suppliers of products ranging from chef wear, instant noodles, toilet seats, paints and chemicals, a water-saving toilet valve manufacturer, a sock and underwear supplier not only become members but become part of Massmarts’ supply chain or have their products on the retailer’s shelves.

“These 33 suppliers are the start of a retail revolution which is seeing us make significant inroads into high street stores, including Massmart’s brands of Game, Makro and Builders’ Warehouse. We have to make buying local easier for consumers and this supplier development programme is one which can easily be replicated in other retail sectors,” Mashimbye said at the launch.

Another successful partnership is one with Edcon, which according to Mashimbye has reached a “phenomenal level of 60% local content on its shelves and rails, coming from just 18% three years ago, and we are proud of the work we have done together with them.”

Some of their success stories is South Africa’s first black-owned coffee roaster and brewer, Sihle’s Brew, by Sihle Magubane. His bags of coffee are now on major retailers shelves, principally in Spars, as well as Serenitii Luxury Body Care, a luxury body care range founded by entrepreneur, Sarinah Matema Morgans. Their products are now available at Pick and Pay, and will soon be in Edgars stores.

The benefits extend beyond SMEs, says Mashimbye.

“The SMME/entrepreneurial sector is anticipated to be the source of 90% of jobs by 2030, and so it is critical that we encourage and nurture small businesses to grow in order that they can fulfill that role and be significant employers of the future.”

We see the campaign as a collective effort between the private and public sectors and the consumer

SME South Africa sits down with Mashimbye to find out why all business sectors need to show up and the importance of increasing the visibility of locally made products and services. 

Solving the access to market challenge

Access to market is the main determinant of the success of a business and not finance, and so assisting small businesses in any way possible is vitally important to the survival of these enterprises.

Be part of the movement

If local businesses expect South Africans to support them, they must also demonstrate that they are walking the talk. We actively encourage businesses to think beyond the local procurement of only the raw materials required to produce their end product to extend that mind set to buying all the consumables and equipment required in the running of business locally. These include office furniture, stationery, detergents, uniforms etc.

We see the campaign as a collective effort between the private and public sectors and the consumer. We are working to create both supply and demand for local products and so would encourage all local businesses that qualify to be a Proudly South African member to become part of the movement.

Increasing the visibility of SMEs

By joining the buy local campaigns, small businesses are given visibility and platforms they may not otherwise have been exposed to.

We take member companies to a variety of events and exhibitions that are relevant for and to them, for example in 2017 we took 14 members in the food and beverage space to sell at the DStv International Food & Music Festival which attracts 40 000 consumers/visitors over a weekend, giving amazing exposure and publicity to these members.

We assist in highlighting sectors that are in distress and have so far hosted a special forum for companies in the struggling poultry and pharmaceutical sectors.

We are proud of the fact that a number of our larger member companies are showing great faith in the SA economy and have made major investments into their manufacturing plants in the country

Member companies gain access to market

Proudly South African provides member companies with many business-to-business opportunities, and encourages all our members to trade with each other.

The member network is a great place to start for small businesses to find new buyers and suppliers.

In addition, events such as our Buy Local Summit & Expo provide a free platform for members to exhibit and be seen by around 1000 buyers looking for new products and services.

One of our most exciting value propositions for our members, especially for emerging businesses, is our tender monitoring system whose purpose is 2-fold. Firstly, it ensures that all government departments and entities are compliant with local procurement legislation when putting out a tender or RFQ and secondly it allows us to alert member companies operating in the relevant sector that the tender is out and they can pitch for the business. This is providing direct access to the government market where our members can compete.

We also host a database on our website that is a platform for our members to be found by anyone looking for locally grown, produced or manufactured goods and services.

Travelling around the country to provide support

We also travel around all 9 provinces conducting business forums, offering opportunities to businesses to meet organisations that provide financial and non financial support.

Our One Stop Shop which we have run successfully for two years at the annual Buy Local Summit, and on a smaller scale at some of our provincial events, is a bringing together of many of the institutions and entities that regulate small (and big) business, such as SARS, UIF, Dept Labour, and the dti.

Whoever attends these events can go and seek on site solutions and assistance with compliance, legislative and red tape issues. If a small business is not compliant, it cannot pitch for any government business, and may be rejected for the same reason by private sector procurement so it is essential we assist businesses meet all statutory requirements to maximise their access to market opportunities.

Beyond access to markets

Proudly South African is able to lobby and mobilise at government level on behalf of small business, specific industrial and commercial sectors and work to effect change.

Our efforts in the poultry and pharmaceutical sector brought together stakeholders and government in one room to thrash out some of the challenges facing these critical sectors, and this is the kind of ‘quiet diplomacy’ we can practise, sometimes behind the scenes, in addition to the public efforts, described previously.

The role of big business

We are proud of the fact that a number of our larger member companies are showing great faith in the SA economy and have made major investments into their manufacturing plants in the country.

These include Nissan, and the automotive sector is one that is very important to SA. Chinese white goods and electronics company Hisense, based in Atlantis in the Western Cape has also expanded its operations significantly, as has Edcon whose investment in an ailing clothing and textiles sector we hope will bring about great improvements.

In some parts of the country, the agricultural sector’s resilience and recovery from drought has seen great improvements and this has a ripple effect in the agri-processing and other related industries.

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Michelle Strydom
Michelle Strydom
I'm a journalist for online publication, SME South Africa. I'm a BA journalism graduate from the University of Johannesburg. My areas of focus when it comes to writing are entrepreneurs, startups, marketing and funding. I also enjoy creative writing and proofreading.