By: Tebogo Mokwena
Small businesses are being encouraged to attend this year’s Proudly South African Buy Local Summit and Expo as it will empower their enterprises to expand and give them access to a wealth of information through networking. According to owners of SMMEs who attended the summit last year, they had acquired the knowledge needed to increase production, made new contacts and overcome some hurdles, including dealing with red tape.
The summit is set to return this year at the Sandton Convention Centre on 27 and 28 March. All Day Jam’s founder Gontse Selaocoe, who attended last year’s summit and will also be at this one, said that the information he obtained from buyers from retail stores like Pick n Pay, Spar and Makro helped him understand what compliance measures he needed to adopt. He now knew how to test his products, had a barcode, and a Proudly South African certificate. He was also able to receive funding from Gauteng Enterprise Propeller and the Small Enterprise Development Agency, as well as machinery from the Innovation Hub.
Selaocoe told Vutivi News that this year he hoped to meet the same buyers from the 2022 summit. “I want to share with them the progress I made,” he said. Also attending this year’s summit would expose him to new suppliers and retailers to supply, as well as give him an opportunity to network.
Wendy Vesela-Ntimbani also attended the summit online last year and anticipated that her products would be on retail shelves this year. Her company, Matombani, produces protein-based foods from mopane worms, which are rich in protein. “As a manufacturer, it is important to attend such summits because you get the opportunity to meet buyers from retail, showcase your products and associate yourself with other businesses in the same sector,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tina Macalagh, who is the co-founder of clothing brand Lesela and attended last year’s summit as a panellist and spoke about its contribution to the clothing and textile sector, said the exposure her business received had resulted in more customers. This increased its sales and revenue. She told Vutivi News that she was also able to connect with industry giants, and as a result, she had received mentoring from one of the business owners. “I learned that one of the greatest things to know as business owners is that we can learn a lot from each other, and the same people that we see as competition can be our mentors and teachers,” Macalagh said.
The summit is expected to attract over 2000 delegates, and it comes at a time when the county is focusing more than ever on localisation to help build the economy and create jobs, instead of relying heavily on imports. Proudly South African CEO Eustace Mashimbye said in a statement that the objective of the summit was to lobby all tiers and agencies of government to prioritise localisation in their procurement processes, and also encourage corporate South Africa to increase its uptake of locally sourced and manufactured goods.
SMMEs will also have access to the Business Solutions Hub which comprises entities and organisations such as the Consumer Goods Council of SA, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.