Why South Africans should support local brands

Happy MaKhumalo Ngidi is the Proudly South African chief marketing and communications officer.

Happy MaKhumalo Ngidi is the Proudly South African chief marketing and communications officer.

Published Mar 19, 2024


The South African fashion and design industry is growing rapidly. South African designers such as Sindiso Khumalo, Thebe Magugu, Rich Mnisi, Maxhosa Africa, David Tlale, Gert Johan-Coetzee, Biji La Maison and Lukhanyo Mdingi, to name but a few have proven that local designs can compete on the international market.

However, as the saying “charity begins at home” goes, more South Africans need to get into the habit of supporting local designers.

They don’t have to support the designers mentioned above per se but can support other designers, especially emerging designers, so that they too can grow in the craft.

We have organisations like Proudly South Africa, which are dedicated to pushing local brands by promoting them to the local market by hosting annual events like the Proudly SA Local Summit and Expo, a two-day platform renowned for its innovative convergence of manufacturers, buyers, government officials, policymakers, decision-makers, consumers and business development agencies who all play a fundamental role in the quest for localisation.

On why should we support local designers, Happy MaKhumalo Ngidi, the Proudly South Africa’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, asks, “Why shouldn’t they?”

“If we don’t support South African brands, who should do it for us? If we don’t support local and choose to buy products that have been brought into the country, we are essentially creating a job and a demand in that country.”

“We must support local businesses to create jobs to sustain the ones we already have. Because when we start doing that, it will deal with social illnesses such as unemployment that we have as a country, that we see every day.”

There are brands that claim to be proudly South African, although their products are not made in the country.

According to MaKhumalo Ngidi, such brands cannot be certified as Proudly South African.

To make sure that a brand is proudly SA, there is a checklist that a brand must pass.

Ouma Tema, creative director of Plus Fab, a proudly South African brand. Picture: Instagram.

Ngidi details the criteria followed by Proudly SA to certify a brand as proudly South African.

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The pre-requisite is that the making of the products has to be done by South Africans in South Africa. Understandably, you may have to import fabrics, raw materials and stuff. We get that because, as a country, we don’t have enough of that, that’s the reality.


It’s one thing for Proudly SA to go out there and say: “Buy local, create jobs, local is lekker”. Your products have to be of good quality. We want to be respectful of people who decide to spend money on your products.

Environmental standards

In the course of doing your business, are you aware of the environment around you? Do you respect the environment enough to make sure you take care of it?

Labour laws

As a business in South Africa, do you conform to the labour laws? And if you tick all of those boxes, then you can join Proudly SA.

Should you meet the criteria, then you may be acknowledged as Proudly South African and benefit from all its programmes, including showcasing at the Proudly South African Summit and Expo taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre on March 25 and 26.

“It’s very important for Proudly SA to host the Local Summit and Expo because by and large, it is an access-to-market opportunity. You get in a room with about 200+ products and services that are strictly local.

“Those are businesses run by human beings who come from somewhere, who are responsible for taking care of their households and families,” she said.

On what people can expect at the expo, she said: “They can expect a little bit of everything for everybody. We are a lifestyle-driven narrative.

“There are serious discussions that we are going to have that talk to various factors as people, but there will be lifestyle-driven sessions and a lot of products, cars that are made here, furniture, smartphones, lighting, fashion, food, music, etc.”

Eustace Mashimbye, CEO of Proudly SA. Picture: Supplied.

Speaking of music, the founders of Amapiano will be there speak about the genre that has become a worldwide phenomenon.

“There will be a session called ‘Family Affair’, where they’ll be talking about family-owned businesses. The Maponya legacy did not fall from a tree, there’s a beautiful story behind that kind of business.

“Businesses such as Max Lifestyle in eMlazi, where he works with his sister, Maxhosa Africa, are some of the family businesses that are making it, and we have to put a spotlight on those and remind graduates who may be home for two years that they can run a business,” MaKhumalo Ngidi added.

For fashionistas, the organisers will create a replica of Sandton’s Diamond Walk, except that this one will be a “Local Walk”, where proudly South African designers will be showcasing their luxury garments for people to show-off.