Young entrepreneurs develop local brands
SINCE 1998, South Africans have been called upon to buy local products. Proudly South African was established in 2001 out of the 1998 Presidential Jobs Summit which was convened by Nelson Mandela to support the buy local campaign. The challenge, however, was that for some products there was almost nothing South African to buy.
Enter the young South African entrepreneurs who shop for South African sneakers, luxury leather bags and fashionable clothes that celebrate local culture. Among these young entrepreneurs are Inga Gubeka, Theo Baloyi and Laduma Ngxokolo.
The response to Inga Gubeka’s tweet was remarkable.
He wrote: “I am just a boy from the village of Engqeleni (Eastern Cape) with a dream that one day my brand will be recognized internationally as one of the best luxury leather goods brands in Africa. look at this space… And that’s where I started in 2018 ”.
Gubeka ended up selling the entire range of its luxury leather bags. Finally, South Africans had an alternative to French and Italian luxury leather bags.
On the Inga Atelier product website, Gubeka is described as a boy who grew up in an underprivileged and marginalized village in the Eastern Cape, where people live below the poverty line and are not exposed to the good things. He describes him as someone who grew up making wire cars, little clay cows, and houses.
His story is similar to that of so many other young South Africans and yet he has gone beyond these conditions to create a product worthy of national recognition. Gubeka is not alone. He is part of an unofficial club of young South Africans who are finally developing products that South Africans can buy, instead of buying European and American products of little interest to them.
Another member of the group of young local entrepreneurs is Baloyi. He is the young man behind Bathu, a sneaker brand that has been named by Brand Africa as one of the most admired African brands of 2021.
Baloyi said that during his travels he noticed something was missing – an African sneaker brand, depicting authentic African history.
It had motivated him to create his own. As they say, the rest is history and today South Africans can finally feel free to answer the Proud South African call, at least with their range of sneakers.
The unofficial club of young entrepreneurs also has another award-winning designer, entrepreneur and creative artist who has taken local South African fashion to another level – Ngxokolo, the founder of the MaXhosa brand.
When he started, Ngxokolo had a desire to explore knitwear design solutions that would suit amakrwala (Xhosa insiders). His initial vision was to create a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would suit this market.
As someone who went through the process, Ngxokolo felt he needed to develop high-end knits that celebrated the traditional Xhosa aesthetic.
His designs capture the hearts of South Africans with their strong cultural ties to his own heritage.
The MaXhosa brand is locally regarded as a qualified luxury fashion brand in the sea of international brands.
With the MaXhosa brand, South Africans can confidently wear a Proudly South African brand.
Inga Gubeka, Theo Baloyi and Laduma Ngxokolo are shining stars of young entrepreneurs who have empowered South Africans to embrace the idea of buying local produce.
What they have achieved is essential for the South African economy and should receive the necessary recognition. These young entrepreneurs are responsible for their own success, through their quality of design.
South Africa finds it difficult to encourage locals to buy local produce as they compete with seemingly better produce from other parts of the world. What these young entrepreneurs have done should serve as a case study to develop local products that can be adopted by society. That’s important, partly because it’s one thing to develop a local product, but it’s another to make sure people can adopt those products before other products.
South Africa will need to develop more local products if it is to stimulate the economy. Gubeka, Baloyi and Ngxokolo can show the nation how this can be done.