We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

How to spend money locally to grow the economy

Chef Khayakazi Kepe is grateful for the support she received from government.
Chef Khayakazi Kepe is grateful for the support she received from government.
Image: Khayakazi Kepe.

Where you choose to buy goods or find services can impact not only your local economy, but the country’s financial wellbeing too.

Proudly South African (SA) is urging the nation to support local small businesses as the country’s economic recovery is dependent on the small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) sector.

This was a repeated call during this year’s Proudly SA Buy Local Summit & Expo, which was recently held virtually.

One of the three-day summit’s multiple sessions was dedicated to SMMEs. Under discussion was how the public and private sector can support local entrepreneurs who have been hard hit by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Local production

Proudly SA Chief Executive Officer Eustace Mashimbye described the SMME sector as an important and dynamic part of our economy.

“In an economy that is under pressure and has been even before COVID-19, we seriously need to buy from local producers. As a developing country, we need local production so we can create jobs. Unemployment breeds poverty,” he said.

Mashimbye urged local entrepreneurs to join Proudly SA as it has databases of both entrepreneurs and those needing services.

Lindokuhle Mkhumane, the Acting Director-General of the Department of Small Business Development, said government had already rescued many SMMEs through its COVID-19 relief funds.

He said although the government has funded these entrepreneurs, citizens still need to play their part.

“If you want to buy something, start by looking around your immediate community and once you are satisfied no one sells it, you may then move to another community or province. That way we will save our local businesses.”

Government support

Delivering his address at the summit, President Cyril Ramaphosa said while many SMMEs had been badly affected, some entrepreneurs have recovered.

He told the story of Khayakazi Kepe, a Port Elizabeth chef and entrepreneur who sent a letter to his office to thank him for the support she had received from government, which had made it possible for her to stay afloat.

“We have a positive case study of government, the private sector and small businesses working together in perfect alignment, with the outcome being that local business was supported, local jobs were saved and created and 100% locally sourced and produced products are gaining popularity among local consumers,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said all South Africans, including government and the private sector, must not only preach the ‘buy local’ message, but must practise it by buying local to sustain local businesses.

He said South Africa has to save existing jobs and stimulate the economy for new ones to be created. 

“Businesses that were on the brink of collapse during COVID-19 have to be rebuilt, and new ones formed.

“It is for all of these reasons that localisation and local procurement is essential. Wear local, travel local, eat local, watch local content, read local authors, support local music and use local raw materials in your businesses,” he said.

The SMME owner who wrote to the President

Chef Kepe runs Khaya’s Kitchen, which supplies ready-made African meals to Spar. Last year, she applied for COVID-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme emergency funding, run by the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), to pay her 10 staff members after the pandemic affected her operations.

“The UIF payment to my staff members was from April to November 2020, and it was just below R200 000 in total. I had to top-up but a chunk of each salary was covered by the UIF,” she says.

Kepe says in 2019 she was awarded R4.2 million funding by the Small Enterprise Development Agency to set up her kitchen. When Spar awarded the ready-made meals contract to Khaya’s Kitchen, she was able to use the funding to find a suitable space and set up a professional kitchen.

“The government has many assistance programmes; I encourage SMMEs to be on the lookout all the time,” she says.  

For more information on the Proudly SA databases go to  www.proudlysa.co.za

Agencies offering assistance to SMMEs:

  • National Youth Development Agency, go to www.nyda.gov.za or call 087 158 6345/ 5738
  • Small Enterprise Development Agency, go to www.seda.org.zaor call 012 441 1000
  • Department of Small Business Development, go to  www.dsbd.gov.za or call 086 184 3384
  •  Industrial Development Corporation, go to www.idc.co.za or call 0860 693 888.

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.