Fri Jun 23 10:39:19 SAST 2017

Buy local and create a job: how Proudly South African is helping small businesses

By Proudly South African | 2017-03-20 10:04:38.0

Proudly South African was established in 2001, born out of the 1998 Presidential Job Summit convened by late former president Nelson Mandela.

Like all government initiatives, its purpose is to combat the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and, above all, unemployment.

Proudly South African’s mandate is fourfold: to promote nationwide “buy local” activism; to encourage everyone to look at the labels of origin on all goods and choose to buy a product made in South Africa; to work with law enforcement agencies to combat the influx of counterfeit goods; and to make buying local easier by making a local supplier database available to all South Africans.

The campaign’s objective is to help create 5-million new jobs by 2020.

Buy-local movements are gaining momentum around the world. South Africa is not unique in its efforts to tap into national pride to make buying local both a feel-good and a do-good issue. As nationalism seizes many countries’ imaginations in an apparent backlash against globalisation, the Proudly South African campaign is well positioned to use this upsurge in patriotism and push its message that buying local does indeed matter.

As individual consumers shopping for household items, we have the power in our pockets to make a difference and reinvest in our own country by sending money back to the fiscus and helping to retain jobs. That is effectively what a buy-local choice means.

On a grander scale, local procurement has enormous benefits. An investment of just R1 in manufacturing will result in a R1.13 increase in gross domestic product, an increase of R0.13 in export receipts and R0.35 in fiscal revenue. Investment of R1-million in the same sector will create three sustainable jobs.

Legislating public procurement levels has supported the uptake of local goods and services in South Africa. The Local Procurement Accord of 2011, followed by the revision of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, has designated sectors, sub-sectors and products for local procurement. These include heavy-duty items required in the construction sector, mining and transport, as well as smaller goods such as stationery and office furniture.

But while the public sector is in part regulated, it is the business-to-business opportunities that offer massive scope for growth in local procurement. We encourage even our member companies to source goods and services from each other before looking elsewhere, and this network has proved meaningful for many of them.

Among Proudly South African member companies are large multinationals, as well as township-based and even rural companies. Trading between them is highly encouraged. Unlocking the potential of small, medium-sized and micro-enterprises (SMMEs), the so-called kasi economy and other entrepreneurial enterprises merely by supporting their existence can further our goal of job creation.

While the government must build an environment that enables job creation, it is ultimately these companies that will be the employers. In fact, the National Development Plan has a vision of an economy in which SMMEs contribute 90% of jobs by 2030.

In a recently commissioned piece of research, 46% of people said they would support buying local even if the item was more expensive than an imported alternative. This underlines the importance of checking country-of-origin labels, which all items are legally obliged to carry in South Africa. Part of our work is to drive this message home – choose something made in South Africa and create a job, or save one that might otherwise be in jeopardy.

We have seen thousands of job losses as a catastrophic consequence of increased sales of imported chicken versus locally produced poultry. If we are to avoid this in other sectors of our economy, it is incumbent on all of us and on every company and government entity to buy local.

Proudly South African is hosting its 6th Buy Local Summit & Expo on April 3 and 4 2017 at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Day one will focus on SMMEs, providing practical advice, tips and information on establishing and sustaining a successful business. It has the support of the Ministry of Small Business Development.

Day two is the main conference and exhibition, and will be addressed by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

Registration is free of charge. Visit www.buylocalsummit.co.za.

This article was paid for by Proudly South African.

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