Proudly SA chief executive Eustace Mashimbye on a locally produced couch in his office in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Photo: Philippa Larkin
JOHANNESBURG – Today we are launching the eighth edition of our annual Buy Local Summit & Expo, an event at which local products, manufactured by companies that have and are invested in the country, are showcased in a massive promotion of the buy local ethos.

The Buy Local Summit & Expo takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre on March 12 and 13.

Access to market, acquiring shelf space and capturing a share of the market remains the biggest challenge for South African products and over the past two years, our expo has transitioned into a market place where buyers and sellers come to source high-quality locally-made products and services.

This is possibly the single best effort in this country in giving exposure to these Proudly SA companies, enabling them to find new trade outlets, stay open, maintain jobs and possibly even create new positions. It seems the right place to introduce my song for the week here, early on in the column, and I’ve chosen Bra Hugh’s Marketplace, which is exactly what our Expo space will become.

Every year we try and breathe new life into our flagship event. We are aware that the city’s calendar is awash with conferences, workshops and indabas and that people’s time is valuable and needs to be spent productively and so we need to bring value to our delegates (who attend free of charge, but their time is money).

The challenge to put on such a huge event in times of economic constraints and sponsor fatigue is enormous.

Resources dwindle even as expenditure goes up, and we find ourselves stretched to the limit.

As a registered NPO, we have very limited financial resources and every function of the Buy Local Summit & Expo is handled in-house, with the exception of a few specialists such as stand builders and a registration service provider.

Our graphic design, website design and maintenance, copywriting, ad placement and much more is all undertaken by the Proudly SA team.

This year we have added a number of new elements to the summit, including extending the expo over two days.

This year we are also introducing an exciting new app that will make the entire event more interactive, especially the B2B function.

The annual SA Premier Business Awards, hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry in conjunction with Brand SA and Proudly SA and previously a standalone event, will now comprise the closing gala event of the summit.

Entries for companies that make a significant contribution to the South African economy in a number of categories are already open on, with a closing date of February 22.

In his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, President Ramaphosa put an emphasis on import replacement, something on which we will be working much more this year, saying: “Increasing local demand and reducing the consumption of imports is important, because it increases the opportunities for producers within South Africa to serve a growing market.”

The importance the president is placing on localisation gives the campaign even more impetus, and we are grateful for his support.

We are looking carefully at the manifestos of other parties contesting the elections to see where they stand (if indeed they have any position at all) on legislation around local content, and if making levels of local content mandatory in the private sector is something any of them is pushing for.

We hope to be able to bring you some more information on that in the coming weeks and months before the elections on May 8.

We urge anyone who is able to join us on March 12 or March 13 in Sandton to be part of our summit, or simply to visit the expo where you will see the vast range of member companies we represent from across the country. Registration opens on

If you are an SMME or entrepreneur looking for ideas, tips or advice and information on taking your enterprise to the next level, register for day one of the event and listen to business experts, many of whom have walked the same road of self-employment.

Any supply chain managers and procurement official interested in learning how to leverage localisation to your enterprise and the country’s benefit should attend the second day on March 13.

This is our flagship event where we have the opportunity to preach our message to more than 1000 delegates, but for those of you outside Gauteng who can’t be there we will continue to give master classes in localisation here every Tuesday.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African. The views expressed here are his.