This year, 2021) marks the 20th anniversary since Proudly South African (Proudly SA) opened its doors – it is South Africa’s official buy local advocacy campaign. Jambo Africa Online’s Editor, ANDILE MSINDWANA, profiles its CEO, Eustace Mashimbye.
John Maxwell suggests that “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”. That summarises the strategic guidance that Eustace Mashimbye gives to his Proudly SA team and all their stakeholders.
As I observed his meteoric rise as eloquently captured in his detailed curriculum vitae (which provides an honest reflection that doesn’t only glorify but also alludes to his sense of prioritisation) and the excellent work undertaken by the Proudly SA as outlined in its user-friendly website and the many media coverage links all glowingly communicating the Proudly SA achievements, I saw him to be a seasoned marketing thought leader on consumer mobilisation (including their right to quality purchases) and trade promotion (covering also the responsibility of the manufacturers to provide quality to the market).
His passion for quality is nothing short of a person that knows that to build strong brands, retain customers and build brand trust is central to the competitive capacity of all business. He also understands the role that South African products play in marketing and creating value about the country as a preferred destination.
Eustace is driven by an insatiable desire to reverse the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment prevalent in South Africa. “While this could be achieved by the country mobilising both public and private sector investments, the citizenry has a critical role to play as consumers. As consumers, we have to embrace and consume ‘Made in RSA’ service and product brands so that investors could achieve healthy margins – that is, return on their investments. This means they will make a contribution into the tax revenue which will afford the state capacity to provide social services to the citizenry; they will create employment as their business grow and thus reduce unemployment levels; and they will be strong enough to compete with global brands entering our market while their capacity to access foreign markets will be greatly enhanced. So consuming locally made services and products isn’t just a patriotic act, but it is an economic imperative. It is a matter of asserting pride in ourselves as a people.”
Eustace is academically well travelled. His skills were honed at various top level academic and professional institutions in South Africa.
He holds a National Diploma in Financial Accountancy from the Tshwane University of Technology. His majors were Financial Accounting and Corporate Administration.
Believing in the principle of life-long learning, he is currently pursuing studies in Corporate Governance through the Chartered Secretaries Institute of South Africa (CSISA) and he hopes to complete his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the Management College of South Africa (Mancosa) as soon as he has passed his Board exams.
“Education, or skills development in particular, is critical in developing our country’s competitiveness for us to attract tourists and investments from other countries and for our strategic exports to gain foreign market penetration,” he posits matter-of-factly. “Competition is tough in the global economy.”
Eustace argues the above coupled with a positive work ethic, an investor-friendly regulatory regime, a responsive consumer market and well developed channels will make the country attractive to investors. “Let’s always remember as a country we’re chasing after the $100 billion target of investments that the President has set in 2018 for his administration’s five year tenure. Investments will stimulate our economy and help us reverse the frontiers of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
He spent more than 17 years in accounting and financial management roles, in both the public and the private sector institutions that include Telkom, the Edcon group, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition before taking over the finances at Proudly SA as the Chief Financial Officer. His experience at senior management level is over ten years at Proudly SA.
At the dtic, he served as a Financial Manager for the Marketing Division which was led by a Deputy Director-General with four Chief Directors. This structural arrangement was the first of its kind in this country since the public service architecture allowed for the establishment of a Communications Division led by a Chief Director, with a Marketing Director being one of the subordinates. “The whole idea of this reconfiguration was intended to redress this anomaly of a marketing head reporting into a communications Chief Director because all sound communications is based on solid marketing principles,” he remembers with pride. “It was a paradigm shift since we were the first government department in the country to talk about a brand – the dti. We borrowed the style of using lowercase from the English bard, e.e. cummings to express our humility as a people-centred and service delivery-driven government department. We detested pomposity often associated with governments across the world. This approach of managing the reputation of government was later adopted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) which then commissioned the development of the public sector corporate identity.”
The work done by such institutions as Brand Finance and research undertaken by Prof Rodger Sinclair at the University of the Witwatersrand which argued for the classification of a company’s brand as an asset whose value had to be quantified and included in its balance sheet were gaining traction at the time. “This began to make more sense to me as an accountant.”
This was the kind of experience that made him the best candidate for the Chief Financial Officer of Proudly SA – an institution that promotes the uptake of locally produced brands by consumers. He held this position for a solid ten years – from 2006 and 2016. He also served a stint as the acting Chief Operations Officer of Proudly SA.
Eustace has a very strong financial acumen. He has also developed the required corporate governance documents, procedures, structures and practices, including the regular review of these to ensure compliance with applicable legislation and regulations using the PFMA, South African government’s Treasury Regulations, Companies Act, Shareholder Compact, King IV and the overall policy environment. All of these efforts resulted in the institution-wide prevalence of a culture of accountability and as such Proudly SA consistently receiving unqualified audits – a symbol of his excellent leadership. This did not happen once or twice but for ten consecutive years. This is an achievement that can’t be taken for granted in a country in which the majority of state-owned enterprises suffer huge governance constraints.
Eustace is confident that there is a huge demand for African products in the market but very little supply. That calls for more efforts from South African and African businesses and provision of the requisite support to emerging entrepreneurs.
He also believes patronage from consumers isn’t guaranteed as long as local manufacturers don’t produce the kind of quality expected by consumers and that is also priced appropriately. “Consumers demand value for their money,” he posits matter-of-factly. “Looking at the stringent set of criteria a company has to go throw to qualify for membership, I can with confidence declare that if you see a product or a company using our logo as a stamp of approval, be rest assured that it’s of excellent quality. Our logo is not just a mere logo, to borrow from one brand’s previous pay offline, ‘it’s a benchmark’. Proudly SA is ISO9001:2015 certified signifying its commitment to quality management practices, including certification process of its Membership.”
To open opportunities for small and medium enterprises, Eustace advocates for key industry players such as Transnet, Sasol, ABSA, CSIR, Nestle and Telkom to embark on supplier development programmes to ease their entry into the mainstream economy.
The Proudly SA works with the public and private sectors to promote increased levels of local procurement through supply chain structures, and with consumers to change habits of everyday store and online purchases.
His advocacy work has also extended to the manufacturers’ forum, Automotive Industry Development Centre’s manufacturers’ and sector forums; and the Advisory Board of then National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC).
With Eustace at the helm, Proudly SA has also sought to strongly influence procurement in the public and private sectors. Mashimbye and his team vigorously advocate for government and private sector companies to increase levels of procuring local products but also convince citizens to play their role by uptaking local brands and embracing the “Buy Local to Create Jobs” campaign.
Eustace has participated in various technical structures that gave practicality to the country’s policy. He was a member of the technical committee with specialists from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic), the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) and other industry representatives that conceptualised and developed the Technical Specification on Local Content (SATS 1286).
He has led Proudly SA in identifying and securing strategic partnerships with organisations such as the State-Owned Enterprises Procurement Forum (SOEPF), the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), the Information Technology Association (ITA), the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Multichoice, various commercial radio stations, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), the South African Poultry Association, the Steel Industry Association and the Corporate Governance Institute.
Eustace and his commendable team at Proudly SA have started setting up ‘Buy Local’ campaigns in sister African countries such as Swaziland, Zambia, Tunisia, Malawi, Botswana and Lesotho.
In March, this year, he organised a very successful “Buy Local Summit Online Expo”. This was divided into an exhibition and a conference. The objective of this annual summit was to influence consumer purchasing decisions in favour of South Africa’s manufactures. The target was major buyers, those who influence buyers, suppliers and policy makers.
This year’s should have been the 10th annual event. Instead, because they were forced to cancel last year’s edition in line with the newly-imposed strict Level 5 lockdown measures that were intended to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. “As a result,” says Eustace, “this year was only our ninth. And at the same time it was our very first virtual, online conference and exhibition.”
Eustace recalled with a tinge of pride: “After the disappointment of having to cancel the 2020 edition of our Buy Local Summit, we were excited about the new format we have created in order for our 2021 event to go ahead.
“The hybrid nature of the event allowed for real interactions between panelists and presenters which have translated into very viewable and entertaining content for delegates watching from their laptops and other devices. We were especially gratified that President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted our invitation to the event – and he live streamed his keynote address.”
Though vastly different format from previous Buy Local Summit instalments, this event still focused on conversations that educate, inform and entertain rather than only on formal presentations. The focus was, nevertheless, on the business of localisation as a driver of economic growth.
As the Summit was live streamed across multiple online and social media platforms, and all sessions were free to join, these allowed for many more delegates to tune in from around the country and even from across the world.
“Yes, more than ever before many Proudly SA member companies participated as exhibitors as this year they weren’t required to travel to Johannesburg, transport product and to be present on the stand for two days away from their business,” Eustace said explaining the benefits of going digital in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions. “The virtual expo featured over 100 companies, showcasing their products and services in short videos with an online meeting hub where buyers and sellers could connect.”
The event celebrated two decades of Proudly SA’s advocacy work. “We unpacked 20 years of the buy local movement in South Africa.”
The panels included that of past and present Chairpersons of the Proudly SA board including founding chairman, Tim Modise and the second chair, Adv. Dali Mpofu.
Contributing to the same discussion were veteran journalists Peter Bruce and Leanne Manas. “While the latter is a long time friend of the campaign, the former, whilst a supporter of buying local, has been a critic of some of the trade measures taken to protect local manufacturing,” Eustace says. “We believe in always presenting a balanced view to all our stakeholders.”
The highlight of the Summit was a keynote address by President Cyril Ramaphosa, broadly based on the theme of the Summit. “The endorsement by the President has served to underline the emphasis that is increasingly being placed on the buy local movement. We are determined, with his support, to continue for a further 20 years and beyond to make a difference in the procurement habits of the public, private and consumer sectors, working with retailers, big business and other stakeholders in the drive to increase the uptake of locally manufactured, grown and produced goods and services.
“The reinvigoration, through a raft of measures, of the manufacturing sector of the country, is imperative in steering the economy back on a growth path including the creation of millions of much needed jobs. Local procurement and localisation are indeed significant drivers of that economic growth.”
Growing our economy and putting it back on the road to recovery is something to which we can all make a contribution. Buying and supporting locally grown, produced and manufactured goods is a critical driver of job creation and growth and there are many lessons to be learned at Proudly SA’s flagship event.
Following the president’s presentation, a panel of business experts such as Dr Stavros Nicoloau, Dr. Thabi Leoka and Prof Bonang Mohale unpacked the content of his speech.
Besides the president and the other speakers alluded to above, the speaker list was star-studded with luminaries such as Prof. Bonang Mohale, Tim Modise, Adv. Dali Mpofu, Peter Bruce, Leanne Manas, Maps Maponyane, Gareth Cliff, Theo Baloyi, Matthew Mole and Boskasie. Brand guru, Thebe Ikalafeng, ran a coaching session on transforming good products into great brands.
The Buy Local Summit remains the prime event where anyone looking for locally made products and services for their households or businesses can find them – and it is aptly captured, from a supplier perspective, in the song from Kabza De Small and DJ Maphorisa, “eMcimbini, ku la u zosithola khona” which means “at the event is where you will find us”.
Eustace’s insatiable desire and selfless commitment to serve his country has been acknowledged beyond the bounds of the public service. He was offered a vacancy to serve in the Board of Governors for the South African Savings Institute where as a non-executive director he chairs the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC).
What is Proudly South African?
Proudly South African was established in 2001, born out of the 1998 Presidential Job Summit which was convened by the late former President Nelson Mandela. The country’s official buy local advocacy campaign is aligned to the government’s objective of combatting the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and above all, unemployment.
Its mandate is quite noble. It seeks to influence local procurement in the public and private sectors, to increase local production and to influence consumers to buy local in order to stimulate job creation. This is in line with government’s plans to revive South Africa’s economy so that millions of jobs can be created and unemployment can be reduced. The work of Proudly SA aligns with the broader National Development Plan and the Local Procurement Accord signed in October 2011.
It is a membership based organisation. Members of Proudly SA share a commitment to an uplifting ethos that promotes social and economic change and progress. They make a meaningful contribution to building South Africa’s economy, alleviating unemployment and retaining existing employment opportunities.
And only companies that have been audited and approved are entitled to carry the logo, which is a sign that a product or service meets local content thresholds and above all, quality standards.
The criteria for membership are as follows:
At least 50% of the cost of production must be incurred in South Africa and there must be “substantial transformation” of any imported material.
High quality of services/products
The product or service must be of a proven high quality for example, it must be ISO accredited or have a certificate of any other accreditation organisation.
Fair labour practice
The company must comply with the current labour legislation and adhere to fair labour practices.
The Business/enterprise must comply with environmental legislature and adhere to production processes that are environmentally friendly and acceptable. This shall include recycling methods, waste management and carbon footprint reduction.
Watch the Proudly SA video on YouTube by clicking on the link below: