The news was never going to be good.
And sure enough, the latest unemployment figures do make for grim reading – 6.5 million people are now officially out of work.
But rather than dwelling on the dark side, Drum careers asks how we can make a difference and contribute towards improving the country’s miserable employment record.
One way to create jobs is to buy local. We speak to Proudly South African CEO, Mr Eustace Mashimbye, who tells us it’s time we viewed our locally produced goods with more pride.
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Why is it so important to buy local?
By buying local, we are supporting local enterprises that create jobs here in SA. If we buy imported items, we are exporting jobs. By creating jobs, we are stimulating economic growth and growing the economically active population.
How will it stimulate our economy?
The economy will grow through retaining spend here in the country and putting more tax back into the system.
By growing demand for locally produced goods and services, we grow supply, thereby creating more jobs through industrialising and increasing manufacturing output.
Why should we spend more on a local product if we can buy an imported item cheaper?
By choosing to spend just a little more on a locally manufactured item, you are buying quality and you are creating jobs. Buying imported items stimulates demand in other countries.
But it’s false to claim that local is always more expensive. The problem with imports is that they often enter the country illegally, are mis-declared at ports of entry and evade import duties allowing them to be sold at extremely low prices.
We manufacture items at all price points. Mr Price, for example, has many clothing items made from locally grown cotton at extremely reasonable process. Conversely, there are clothing designers and manufacturers, such as Maxhosa, whose clothes are unapologetically expensive.
Local FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods like packaged food, toiletries, beverages, stationery, over-the-counter medicines and cleaning products) are well priced.
We encourage people check labels of origin and make local purchasing decisions.
Can South Africans afford to buy local?
Of course they can!
If you look at the store selection in the malls, there is money being spent on luxury imported items. The issue of local is often one of perception and/or aspiration. Imported is seen as exotic and makes a statement, as opposed to wearing/consuming locally manufactured items.
We need to re-establish a sense of pride in local and there are many examples of outstanding, quality manufacturing here in SA.
How can local businesses compete with foreign goods?
Balancing tariffs and import duties to protect local businesses against imported items in a free market is tricky. In some cases, raw materials have to be imported to manufacture items and this impacts prices – steel is a good example. Nevertheless, we can compete on price vs quality.
Often we see that if an overseas celebrity endorses something South African, it gains popularity – but we don’t see it until then.
Local truly is lekker – we just need to be aware of what is made here. There is some amazing work being done.
For example, white goods (large home appliances ) like Defy and Hi Sense are manufacturing locally. Mara Phones and Mobicel are manufacturing cell phones here in SA. And FMCG, clothing, crafts, art and many, many other sectors produce amazing items locally.
Look out for the Proudly South African logo – and put those goods in your shopping basket.