South Africa has been through tumultuous events during the past decade. Twenty-four years after the dawn of democratic South Africa, a lot has happened to unravel the tapestry of our so-called rainbow nation, which had won the admiration of the world. But with turmoil came opportunity. There are many among us who remain committed to creating sustainable solutions for the country. One of those who continues to drive transformational initiatives that position South Africa as one of the leading brands locally and abroad is Eustace Mashimbye, the chief executive officer of Proudly South African.

Mashimbye was born in Mamelodi, a township that was established when 16 houses were built on a farm called Vlakfontein during the dark days of Apartheid. It is no surprise that he is an avid fan of Mamelodi Sundowns, a leading team in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League. “As early as 1989, my brother took me to my very first football match which showcased Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs. I was thrilled and the memory feels like yesterday – I can still remember the entire Sundowns team that played on that day,” he says.

Mashimbye is also passionate about music and is not shy to spend time on the decks. “In addition to my daily life as CEO of Proudly SA, I’m a part-time DJ,” he says, adding that “a few years ago, my twins christened me with the stage name DJ Daddy.”

A qualified financial accountant, Mashimbye was Proudly SA’s chief financial officer before being appointed acting CEO. In December 2016 he was permanently appointed to that position. He crafted his art as a business leader at the then Technikon Northern Gauteng (now Tshwane University of Technology) and the Technikon South Africa (now part of the University of South Africa), majoring in financial accounting and corporate law.

Mashimbye has served on the board of The Business Place and is a director on the board of the South African Savings Institute, where he previously also held the position of audit and risk committee chairperson.

With 17 years’ experience in accounting and financial management in the public and private sectors, (he served in senior management roles at Telkom, Edcon and the Department of Trade & Industry, among others), he brings a wealth of expertise to help Proudly SA achieve its mission. Its mission? To encourage the nation to make personal and organisational contributions towards economic growth and prosperity in South Africa by prioritising locally made items or services, increasing employment opportunities while reinforcing national pride and patriotism.

Mashimbye is well placed to inspire local manufacturers and service providers who are serious about quality and who are committed to creating and sustaining employment. “It is extremely gratifying to feel like you’re part of a remarkable movement that aims to promote job creation in your country of birth,” he says.

“Proudly SA seeks to strongly influence procurement in the public and private sectors, to increase local production and stimulate job creation. This is in line with the government’s plans to revive South Africa’s economy, so that millions of jobs can be created and unemployment can be reduced to 15% as per the National Development Plan,” says Mashimbye.

“The country has been through trying times, and we now have an opportunity to remind businesses and citizens of the power they have to help grow our economy and create sustainable jobs locally, by simply buying and supporting local goods and services,” he says.

Launched in 2001, Proudly South African is the country’s “Buy Local” campaign, which seeks to promote South African business, organisations, products and services that demonstrate high quality, local content, fair labour practices and sound environmental standards. “Buy Local” activism is at the heart of the campaign.

The country has been through trying times, and we now have an opportunity to remind businesses and citizens of the power they have to help grow our economy and create sustainable jobs locally, by simply buying and supporting local goods and services.

“We provide a country-of-origin brand that identifies, differentiates and promotes local companies against specific, rigorous criteria. At least 50% of the cost of production must be incurred in South Africa and there must be substantial transformation of any imported materials,” he says, adding that the product or service must be of a proven high quality. “It must, for example, be ISO accredited or have a certificate of any other accreditation organisation.”

Proudly SA also requires the business or enterprise to comply with environmental legislation and adhere to production processes that are environmentally friendly. This includes recycling methods, waste management, carbon footprint reduction, and more.

“We continue to have a strong focus on educating consumers and businesses about the impact of their purchase behaviour and to drive increased local procurement. In the public sector there is legislation compelling government to procure certain designated items locally.”

The organisation has secured clothing giant Edcon as a member and wants to conclude agreements with other large retailers. “Securing partnerships with these national chains is part of our objective to grow the clothing manufacturing base in SA, sustain existing jobs, and create new and sustainable jobs in this industry,” says Mashimbye.

A natural traveller, Mashimbye is an advocate of domestic travel and tourism. “Going on a local holiday automatically helps create jobs for hotel staff, manufacturers of soap and linen, game rangers, entrepreneurs and other businesses."

Mashimbye’s favourite local destinations:

·         Dikhololo Game Reserve near Brits. “I have fond memories of that awesome place. I vividly recall a trip to the reserve with my cousins – two of whom are late – my brother and my best childhood friend.”

·         Mpumalanga. “It is serene and has beautiful natural landscape. I’ve seen the amazing God’s Window and the Three Rondavels during my visit.”

·         Forever Resort Warmbaths. “This was a family ritual. My mom, cousins, sister’s kids and I frequented this place, which was previously known as Aventura Wambarths. My brothers often thought they were too old to travel with my mother. I’ve now passed down this tradition to my twins who have just as much fun as I did and still do.”