Proudly South African: Local initiative creating a legacy

South Africa’s socio-economic challenges are widely known and there are many initiatives underway to try to address some of the problems in society. Alleviating poverty and providing a platform for employment and local prosperity is a common vision. For those reasons, Proudly South African (Proudly SA) was launched in 2001.

ProudlyThe mandate of the Proudly SA Campaign is to create and sustain quality jobs by stimulating Local Production and the consumption of locally produced products and services through the implementation of the various commitments contained in IPAP 2, The New Growth Path and the Local Procurement Accord.

As such – and in the words of Proudly SA’s latest Annual Report, “Proudly South African is a campaign to promote South African companies, products and services. The campaign is an initiative of the National Economic and Development Council (NEDLAC) and is supported by government, or­ganised business, organised labour and commu­nity organisations.

At the heart of the campaign are the key values of local content, high quality, fair labour practices and environmental standards. Enter­prises, which meet the standards set by Proudly South African, are eligible to use the Proudly South African logo to identify themselves, their products and services.

Established in 2001 after the 1998 Presidential Job Summit, the Proudly South African organi­sation has passed its launch stage and has now become a fully established organisation and rec­ognised brand in South Africa. The aim of the or­ganisation is to promote South African products and services that embody high standards of qual­ity, at least 50 per cent local content, respect for en­vironmental standards and adhere to fair labour practices.

The relevance of Proudly South African’s National Buy Local initiative was re-enforced at the 2003 Growth and Development Summit. Among others, the initial ideas around Proudly South African are included in the Industrial Policy Action Plan2 (IPAP2), The New Growth Path and the Local Procurement Accord.

“The Department of Trade and Industry leads the interaction between Proudly South African, the South African Bureau of Standards and the South African National Accreditation System to develop and implement a standard instrument to measure local content on products and services that would get preference during government procurement processes.”

The campaign was founded on the following three key pillars: brand awareness dimension; social dimension and business value add dimension.

Of course the drive to provide a country-of-origin brand that effectively identifies, differentiates and promotes local companies, their products and services whilst meeting the organisation’s criteria requires buy-in from existing South African businesses.

Proudly SA has therefore rolled out a national campaign to create awareness of the Buy Local campaign and to educate consumers, the public and private sector on the economic benefits of buying locally manufactured products and services.

The organisation has also developed a supplier database or list of local producers and suppliers, their products and services.

With an ambition to become an economic prosperity and competitiveness driver and business partner for all South African producers and service providers , Proudly SA had a member of 1,152 organisation by March 31st, 2012.

The Annual Report suggested that figure had declined slightly, on account of the economic downturn.

Commenting on the fallout from the challenging financial climate, Chairman, Dali Mpofu stated:

As a result, both established and emerging businesses and entrepreneurs have not been left unscathed and the country’s manufacturing base continues to face major challenges. This, in turn, has impacted on domestic consumer spending and purchasing behaviour.

Despite this, Proudly South African continues to work hard to promote an uptake in local products and services, with a view to creating and sustaining jobs in the country. In spite of the many challenges faced during the period under review, Proudly South African continues to carry out its commendable mandate and contribute towards nation building.

The Buy Local message has continued to be publicized around the country through various initiatives including business forums, road shows, consumer education campaigns and other inter­actions with business, government, labour unions and community partners.

Proudly SA’s CEO, Leslie Sidibe added: “As part of government’s commitments to create 5 million jobs by 2020 through the macro-economic strategic policy framework under the new Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the social partners to NEDLAC signed the Local Procurement Accord on 31 October 2011 (“the Accord”).

The signing of the Accord can best be described as the most significant development around influencing procurement in favour of domestic production. Proudly SA fits hand-in-glove with the broader national developmental agenda and the Accord – and is indeed proud to have been identified as one of the key role players in terms of the Accord.

The thrust of the Accord is to boost local industry through the designation of sectors.

The first wave of the designations included power pylons, rolling stock, busses, canned vegetables, clothing and textiles, footwear and leather prod­ucts and set top boxes. Pharmaceutical products were added to the list at the beginning of 2012.

In keeping with objectives to promote the uptake of local products through the “Buy Local Activ­ism”, Proudly South African was assigned the fol­lowing tasks in terms of the Accord:

To drive a national awareness campaign on the benefits of Buying Local; to educate South Africans on the  importance of “labels of origin” in order to promote fair and legal trade with other countries; to work with enforcement agencies to prevent illegal imports and dumping of unsafe products and to compile a database of locally produced products and services.”

Over the past few years, the Proudly SA logo has become an important symbol of patriotism, quality and local initiative. Membership fees are based purely on the turnover generated only by the products that carry the logo – and these have met the organisation’s strict criteria which covers local content; high quality product, fair labour practice and environmental standards.

Such requirements are a regular expectation across the world and it is hoped that the efforts of Proudly SA will continue to assist local industry to improve production practices whilst bolstering sales and creating jobs.