Proudly SA chief executive Eustace Mashimbye on a locally produced couch in his office in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Photos: Philippa Larkin
JOHANNESBURG – Today is the first day of our annual flagship event, the Proudly South African Buy Local Summit & Expo, about which I wrote last month when we launched this 2019 edition.

Since then, the programme has been finalised, speakers have polished their presentations and our member companies have signed up in their numbers to exhibit as part of the exclusively Proudly South African Expo of top-quality local products and services.

Being an election year, this is a busy time for our principals and so we have to thank Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Cassel Mathale and the director-general of the Department of Trade and Industry, Lionel October, for standing in for Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Minister Rob Davies today and tomorrow, respectively.

Today we will be addressing SMMEs and entrepreneurs and giving them some tips and advice on setting up and even more important on sustaining their businesses in order that they grow and become the employers of tomorrow.

Among the line-up today are three home-grown entrepreneurs who started small, but who have all “made it big” with their own businesses, having walked the difficult road of the entrepreneur to get to where they are today.

They include Lloyd Cornwall, who always introduces himself as “English by birth and South African by choice” and we love him for that.

Lloyd founded the Delicious International Food & Music Festival, which takes place in Gauteng every September.

His presentation is titled “Who gives a Damn” and we can’t wait to see where he goes with that.

By the way, if you are in Johannesburg and are reading this early enough, we only kick off at 9.30 this morning, so there might still be time for you to come to the Sandton Convention Centre and catch the proceedings.

If you don't make today, there is always tomorrow.

Thebe Ikalafeng is back by popular demand.

He spoke two years ago and was so well received, we have asked him back again, this time to speak on the African brand revolt: How African brands are challenging global brands. We hope he will truly inspire our delegates and exhibitors to go out and take their local offerings to the world.

All-African Young Business Leader of the Year 2017 Sylvester Chauke rose through the marketing ranks in FMCG and broadcasting, establishing his own innovative brand agency DNA Brand Architects in 2012. He is now recognised as a trailblazer and has a string of awards and accolades to his name.

Who better to speak to us about the psyche of the South African consumers, who are the people we need to convince that South African excellence is real first, even before we think about exporting.

Tomorrow’s programme puts more focus on the country’s need to re-industrialise, and we are driving this process through increased levels of localisation.

Dube TradePort, a Special Economic Zone infrastructure project of the KZN Provincial Government will present a case study and Edcon will demonstrate how they have worked to localise their supply chain from cotton farmers to clothes rails.

Six of our small businesses will strut their stuff on the catwalk and demonstrate the wide range of locally made men’s and women’s clotheslines available in Edgars and Jet, so please come and support these brave models!

Both days include interactive panel discussions. They say great minds think alike, but sometimes it’s the way panellists think differently about a topic that makes for a more interesting discussion, so we look forward to great outcomes from some great thinkers.

Like Stimela said in their song Zwakala, come join us at the Buy Local Summit & Expo, attendance is free.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African.