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64 companies to pledge to procure from black industrialists, says Patel

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel

Photo by Creamer Media

18th March 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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During the second Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference to be held later this week, up to 64 large companies are expected to make pledges to procure goods and services from black industrialists over the next five years.

This year’s conference, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre, is being hosted by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, the Export Credit Insurance Corporation, the National Empowerment Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation.

The event will be aligned with the theme ‘Black industrialists catalysing economic growth and jobs’.

“This will be a new aspect added to the conference proceedings and will be done for the first time. Large companies . . . are looking at the state of their own businesses and the expectation of economic growth over the next five years [and], in good faith, indicating the value of the goods that they will be buying from black industrialists,” Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said ahead of the conference on March 18.

He pointed out that 53 large companies have indicated that they will be making pledges at the event. In addition, 11 black industrialists have also promised to make pledges to buy from other black industrialists. Therefore, a total of 64 companies from different sectors of the economy are expected to make pledges.

“This will be something new, and it will give an indication . . . of firms in the economy that are really stepping forward and saying when they look at the marketplace, they see that black South Africans running their own manufacturing and other businesses are producing products now that are so competitive that these companies want to buy from those businesses,” Patel said.

He added that the conference presented an opportunity for industry and government to both take stock.

“Where have we come with empowerment? What have we been able to achieve? What can we celebrate of our successes, and what can we learn from our missteps?” Patel asked.

He added that the event would be principally attended by black industrialists, who would comprise the core audience.

In addition, Cabinet members, as well as representatives of large companies will attend.

Patel explained that the black industrialists programme was instituted to address two key challenges that were experienced with the early rollout of broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE).

He said the first challenge was that, very often, black South Africans acquired only minority stakes of up to about 20% of an existing business. The second challenge was that some of the early BBBEE deals were often only in sectors of the economy comprised of suppliers to the core productive sectors.

“We wanted to develop, within the BBBEE framework, a particular programme that would highlight, support and celebrate black-owned companies where the majority of the equity was held by black South Africans.

“We wanted to also ensure that there was enough space for black South Africans to participate in the core productive sectors of the economy, like agroprocessing and food production, the making of clothes and shoes, or furniture, the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, plastic or steel production, oil and gas, green economies, mineral beneficiation, mining and agriculture,” Patel said.

He explained that the conference would therefore be an opportunity to highlight the package of measures made available to black industrialists, including funding, regulatory support, export support, and the resources of the private sector through supplier development funds, among others.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE CONFERENCE

The conference will feature several panel discussions, which will evaluate the progress made with the black industrialists programme. During these panels, Cabinet Ministers and business representatives will reflect on the future of the black industrialists programme within the context of South Africa's national development goals.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is also expected to deliver a keynote address and personally hand over several awards during the event.

The seven award categories include the Black Manufacturer of the Year Award, and a Sustainability Award, which aims to recognise the challenges posed by climate change and emphasises the necessity for black South Africans to respond to the green transition through entrepreneurial endeavours.

Additionally, Patel said there would be a Women-Owned Business Award, highlighting the importance of economic inclusion, as well as a Youth-Owned Business Award, an Export Award and an Innovation Award. The Innovation Award is geared at encouraging the use of research, development and cutting-edge technologies and products.

Lastly, he said, a Job Creation Award would acknowledge the impact of businesses in generating employment opportunities.

Patel mentioned that it was intriguing that the Innovation Award received the second highest number of nominations, which he said suggested an increasing recognition among black-owned businesses of the significance of innovation for success in both local and global markets.

In addition to these main awards, three special accolades will also be presented. The first is the Legacy Award, reserved for an extraordinary business person who has played a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of BBBEE. There will also be a Special Blue Economy Award and a Special Green Economy Award. These special recognitions are aimed at spotlighting businesses that contributed to existing policies, job creation, and sustainable practices within the economy.

Overall, Patel said about 200 black industrialist exhibitors from throughout the country would be showcasing their wares

“The annual turnover of the exhibitors alone is R10-billion. Those companies that you will see there on the exhibition floor in that marketplace together employ around 1 000 South Africans,” he noted.

By March 18, Patel said, about 1 200 delegates had registered to attend the conference from a cross-section of the South African economy. He expected this number to increase further until the conference and exhibition opened.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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