The inaugural Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference was brimming yesterday with the energy of more than 1 000 delegates and the CEOs of 650 black-owned businesses, from all parts of the economy, including the agriculture sector.
On Wednesday, 20 July 2022 the historic conference, as the first ever to be hosted in Mzansi, saw more than 140 exhibitors showcase their products in the market place that was set up at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Among the exhibitors was an excited Theo Adams, who is the founder and owner of Kaukou Honeybush Tea. Not only did Adams exhibit at the conference, but he even caught the attention of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the national minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Thoko Didiza with his standout product.
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, Adams remarked that it was quite important for him to attend this auspicious event.
“Black businesses are experiencing various challenges,” he said. “The programme supported us with market access and exposed us to the various government departments. What stood out for me, was the commitment of government to support black businesses via the various government incentive programmes.”
As the owner of Kaukou Honeybush Tea, Adams believes that the conference has paved a way for him to access various state support programmes and it also exposed him to potential clients, including the president himself and Didiza.
Kaukou Honeybush Tea is cultivated on the Herold Meander farm situated in the Garden Route in the Western Cape. It is sold both locally and in various overseas markets. Adams recently exhibited his indigenous tea at the Summer Fancy Food Show 2022 in New York.
The indigenous Khoi people used the honeybush shrub to make a medicinal tea with a pleasant, mildly sweet taste and aroma. The tea formed part of their traditional healing systems, a practice that remains applicable in modern times.
Honeybush, Adams explains, is a herbal and naturally caffeine-free tea with very low tannin levels and high levels of antioxidants.
Plans to support black-owned businesses
This conference also highlighted the South African stories of other businesses that have been built from the bottom up.
In his keynote speech, Ramaphosa noted that the inaugural Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference was an opportunity to reflect on progress in advancing redress and equity in the South African economy.
It was an opportunity to discuss what the country needs to do to expand the frontiers of economic transformation for the next decade and beyond. Next year marks 20 years since the promulgation of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act. “It is undeniable that we have made gains in transforming a skewed, racialised economy,” he pointed out.
In 1994 there were around 150 000 black-owned formal businesses in South Africa. Today, there are well over 300 000 black entrepreneurs who own over half of all small businesses in the formal sector, he further remarked.
“Through this conference, we want to establish a practice of recognising and celebrating black excellence in the economy. As government, we want to pledge our support to the endeavours of black and women entrepreneurs. We also want to challenge South African business to play its part”
According to trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, the event boasted with industrialists who have invested their money to build new factories, to expand mines, to develop more agricultural lands, to obtain machinery and to employ young South Africans.
“We have a large contingent of exporting firms present – last year, off the back of the commodity boom, SA achieved a record performance, exporting R1.8 trillion, representing almost one third of our GDP. Some of the exports came from black-owned firms present here today. We are now working with a black exporters network to be launched today to increase the volume of exports and create local jobs.”
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