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The piece below is on economic equality and not about race or discrimination. According to Brandsouthafrica, “Buying locally made goods is not just about patriotism. It’s about investing in the country, economic growth and job creation”.

At the beginning of 2017, I drafted a personal creed to become more aware of my consumption habits. It’s now my preference to spend my money on products or services made in Africa by Africans.

I envision a continent with a self-sustained economic ecosystem. I also believe this will be one of the most impactful ways Africans can rise up and show that they are truly a rich and loyal continent.

Below are useful ways we, as a continent, a nation, a society, can actively take part in driving the economic change our communities need:

For the you the customer/consumers/end-users:

1. Read labels, ask questions: “Ask questions; don’t make assumptions.” – Angela Ahrendts.

  • When you walk into a store to purchase a product, take a few minutes to read the “made in …” tag. This is one of the quickest ways to assure you the product you’re consuming was locally produced. When it comes to services, a simple question like “who’s the owner of this company?” should be enough to give you insight on where you’re spending your money.

2. Give Feedback: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”– Bill Gates.

  • There’s a certain culture we’ve accepted between us, whereby it’s okay to complain on the internet or gossip between friends when a service or product was not up to par but find it completely absurd to give this feedback directly to the owner/mangers.  Before you run and tell the world about your negative, or positive experiences, make sure the people with the actual power to do something about it, know as well.

2. Be open minded: “Flexibility requires an open mind and a welcoming of new alternatives.” ― Deborah Day.

  • Go out of your way to buy local, support local, build local. This will be manifested in the t-shirts you wear, the groceries you eat, the restaurants you dine at, the movies or shows you watch, the alcohol you drink, the events you attend, the services you procure; the list is endless. It’s only when we start to appreciate and embrace our own, that we’ll not only discover exactly what our continent has to offer. We’ll then have the power to set trends and dictate the status-quo; industry leaders.
For businesses/start-ups/service providers:

1. Listen to your customers: “Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”- Kevin Stirtz.

  • Customers are the key to your business. I’m sure you’ve heard the famous saying that the “customer is king”. Ask your customers and clients for feedback, a simple question like “How can we improve our service or product to serve you better? Remember that a happy customer, is most likely to be a repeat customer. A happy customer will also recommend your services to other potential customers, and I’m sorry to break it to you, but that’s how your business grows. 

2. Invest in R&D: “Innovation basically involves making obsolete that which you did before.” – Jay Abraham

  • Since you started your business, have you gone back to test the market. Is your product or service still relevant? Do you need to make a few changes, add a complementary good? Research and accurate data help you customize your offering according to the market’s demand and industry standards.

3. Be professional: “I think professionalism is important, and professionalism means you get paid” – Erica Jong.

  • Professionalism is a 360-degree, 24-hour, 365days/year activity. It should be visible in all elements of your offering, from the way that you dress, the way you approach customers/potential clients, where you conduct your meetings to the communication you send out. Being professional shows that you’re about your business and people need to take you seriously.
Where do I start?

Local markets: Local urban markets provide an awesome chill spot for weekend activities, delicious food and exposure to local and upcoming brands: NeighbourgoodsBrownsenseFourways Farmers MarketHazel Food MarketLocrate Market.

Online stores: Many of these online marketplaces offer delivery straight to your door so you can browse and shop from the comfort of your home or office: VuuqaKotiniSintu OnlineUhuru ShopDarkiemall.

Social Media: Facebook recommendations and Instagram hashtags have made life super easy. Looking for #buylocal #madeinafricabyafricans #madelocal #madeinafrica #madeinsa #proudlysa #madeinrsa. Follow the brands on there and discover what exciting and creative stuff they have to offer.

As much as we advocate for globalization, this article is a call for you to consider the local market first. Who within your circles or community can fulfil that need before looking outside? How can we, as a continent, get a piece of the pie, or better yet, bake our own by engineering our own oven to start with? Now that’s what we call food for thought.

Author: Horesia Nyawade.

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