SA Breweries/AB InBev. The writer says this is one of the companies that let their Proudly SA membership lapse over the years. File Photo: IOL
JOHANNESBURG – They say there is no such thing as a new idea, and this is most certainly true in business.

Finding a niche in your chosen sector is increasingly challenging in this fast-moving global economy, and being completely original or distinctive is virtually impossible.

Therefore, differentiating yourself in some way in order to stand out is imperative.

Finding a value proposition that separates you from the next company will go a long way in securing you a future.

Even Proudly SA, although it is the country's only official buy local advocacy campaign, had to review its own value proposition and about three years ago, the terms and conditions of its membership were overhauled and revised.

Starting with fees: in the past, companies, irrespective of their size, were required to pay 0.1 percent of their turnover (albeit capped at R500 000).

Today, we have six tiers of membership starting from R500 to a maximum of R100 000 a year.

The benefits for members in the different tiers differ, although not extensively.

We have written before about Proudly SA membership, about our in-house tender-monitoring system, which alerts qualifying companies to government tenders for items designated for local procurement and integration with the National Treasury’s central supplier-database for companies that wish to do business with the government.

There is also different access to market opportunities, free listing on our online shopping platform: www.rsamade.co.za, business-to-business and networking opportunities among member companies, exposure at expos, pop-up events and festivals, and of course the use of the logo which is a benefit by association, especially for small start-up companies.

Something that we do on behalf of all our members is lobby at industry associations, the government and at institutional-level on issues of market access, tariff adjustments and trade conditions, among many other topics that are brought to our attention by members.

For those in the higher-fee tiers there are additional advantages of membership. Some are as simple as bigger space at expos or speaking plat- forms at various events that we host around the country.

One of the most important membership benefits for big corporates, however, is the enrolment at Proudly SA at no additional cost of their qualifying enterprise development, and enterprise/supplier development (ESD) companies.

In this way, Proudly SA becomes the access to market partner of these ESD companies whose reliance on their “host” might otherwise restrict their growth.

With additional exposure in the marketplace, small companies are capacitated to achieve bigger economies of scale and become more competitive on quality and pricing.

You might wonder how the use of our logo on their products can benefit larger corporations, but in these days of increased awareness by consumers who are extremely vocal on social media, our logo identifies them as good corporate citizens playing their part in job-creation and in the growth of our economy.

The logo also indicates the high quality of the product, local content- levels, responsible environmental policies and practices, and adherence to the local labour legislation.

The need for us all to be instrumental in the turnaround of the economy starts with corporate social responsibility, and not just looking after the bottom line.

Consumers want to see brands demonstrating an active role in the community and economy, and membership of Proudly SA is one way of publicly displaying this commitment.

With the revision of our value proposition we have been gratified to see the return of a number of companies that over the years let their membership lapse, but who have now come to see how this partnership can benefit us all. These companies include Unilever, SA Breweries/AB InBev, Comair, and PG Bison.

Large companies who joined when they saw that we were rethinking not what it was that members could do for us, but what we could do for our members, including what we could achieve together include Tsogo Sun, Edcon, Sasol, the Foschini Group and Coca-Cola Beverages SA.

The endorsement of these local and multi-national companies is an important step in the growth and meaning of the buy local movement and we encourage as many companies, large or small, to join us.

And just like Siphokazi says in her song, Nidyabulela, loosely translated “Thank You”, we are grateful to all those companies for joining us on this journey of contributing to the growth of the economy through driving increased demand for locally made goods and services, and ensuring we are creating jobs in the process.

Eustace Mashimbye is chief executive of Proudly South African.

BUSINESS REPORT