The tough job of being Proudly South African

Manana Moroka took up the position of Proudly South African CEO on November 1 this year. The Mail & Guardian Online asks her why Proudly SA has lost some of its members, what its membership fees are used for and why she thinks she is suited for her new job.

1. The focus is now on generating awareness of the brand and logo, but you will be launching Proudly SA into the second phase that is about creating more value to members and changing consumer behaviour towards local products and services.
How are you going to do this?

The campaign has already moved from the initial focus of generating awareness into a second phase, which is a more customer-demand-driven and sector-based approach. The key focus is to use the Proudly SA brand to unlock business value and opportunities for members. Proudly SA recently implemented this strategy by introducing six sectors: manufacturing; government, NGOs and state-owned enterprises; services; retail, wholesale and fast-moving consumer goods; information and communication technology; mining, agricultural and environmental.

We have already appointed sector managers who are currently implementing this strategy through alignment with the sector partnership strategies; alignment with the national efforts to stimulate economic growth; complementing the government’s efforts toward achieving 6% per annum growth in the local economy; and working with our members to stimulate growth, development and equity through active engagement with government, business, labour and the community.

Lastly, we ensure that Proudly SA programmes are aligned with the efforts to create a better life for all.

2. Why would you, as the previous deputy director general of marketing at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), be the right person to handle this job?
As a seasoned marketer, my responsibilities at the DTI ranged from creating public awareness of the DTI brand and educating economic citizens around the products and services offered by the DTI to overall management and marketing of the DTI brand. Because of the business linkages between the DTI and Proudly SA, both focusing on job-creation initiatives and entrepreneurial initiatives, I am familiar with the challenges and how to tackle them.

In addition, I was responsible for the uptake of DTI products and services, as well as ensuring access to information for companies and citizens. I also served on the Proudly SA board for the past two years and was a member of the audit committee—therefore I am at par with the objectives as well as the developments of the campaign.

3. Did you ever expect to end up as the new Proudly SA CEO?
Definitely not! My role and position as board member was first and foremost to add value to the Proudly SA campaign and never intended to ascend the position of CEO. This position was widely advertised and a transparent selection process was conducted, therefore I believe the board of directors appointed me based on my credentials.

4. What has been the most recent development at Proudly SA?
The introduction and implementation of the sector-based approach is one of the initiatives, with which we aim to deliver tangible benefits to our members. 

We have also embarked on a festive campaign, which launched two weeks ago. The campaign is fully endorsed and supported by and features President Thabo Mbeki, with a call to support your country by buying Proudly SA. We believe that it is the purchasing power of consumers that will assist companies to grow and expand. This will ensure that companies also retain their existing employees.

Furthermore, we have compiled our members’ products and services to enable consumers to easily identify which are Proudly SA; thereby assuring them that they are purchasing quality products made by South Africans.

The other developments include a positive response from members regarding the Homegrown Awards programme which we launched last year, which will culminate in the award ceremony in February next year.

Finally, we have reviewed and brought to our board of directors highly competent individuals from both private and public sectors, with the aim of ensuring that local procurement in government gives preference to Proudly SA members, enhance corporate governance as well as assist the campaign in delivering value to all members.

5. In an earlier article we published about you, you said: “I am aware of the issues that were raised and together with the Proudly SA management team we will address these concerns.” What did you mean by that?
Long before I assumed my official position as CEO, I was familiar with the concerns raised by some of our members.

Therefore, together with my team, I intend to utilise every avenue possible to ensure that they still leverage their association with the campaign. I am planning to roll out an outreach programme to reach even the most remote areas, thus ensuring that every company, NGO, government department, and small or medium enterprise clearly understands the key values of being Proudly SA.

We are also conducting a feasibility study of benefits to share and understand some of the challenges they’ve been through and how we can jointly address these. 

To ensure that our consumers also contribute to the success of the campaign, we are developing a consumer strategy aimed at educating them on why it is important to buy and support Proudly SA products and services, which would help members to grow and expand, and in turn create more opportunities for employment.

6. Proudly SA has lost about 2,8% of its roughly 2 500 members since April this year because of its failure to deliver on its promises, Business Report wrote earlier this year. Members say that Proudly SA has not delivered on promises such as presenting new business opportunities and boosting marketing efforts. Is this one of the issues you will address?
Seventy percent of our members fall within the small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) segment of the market. This is in line with the government’s focus on facilitating growth within the SMME environment in order to stimulate job creation and local economic growth.

Experience has shown that membership withdrawals from the campaign generally relate to members that originally joined the campaign for reasons falling outside the Proudly SA mandate. And these are more isolated cases than a general trend. Some of the attributes from this exodus has been largely influenced by the lack on understanding of the key objectives of the campaign—which include promotion of active partnership with the campaign in its efforts of job creation and poverty alleviation. But, as mentioned above, we are engaging these members to lure them and make them see the value of being Proudly SA.

7. The fees are structured so that companies with the largest turnovers pay a maximum of R500 000 a year, while NGOs, government departments, schools and universities pay the minimum amount of R570 a year. How do you spend this money? Can you name some specific goals?
The fee structure was modelled around an affordability principle, based on the range of revenues. Companies therefore pay 0,1% of their annual turnover, with a minimum of R570 and a maximum of R500 000. To date, 60% of the campaign’s annual budget has been spent on membership and marketing activities, 25% is spent on staffing cost while 15% is spent on compliance and administration. Moving forward, the budget allocation will shift significantly in weight towards servicing members more directly in line with new sector strategy.

8. Which companies do you still want to win for Proudly SA?
We do not specifically target certain companies, but believe that companies have different business strategies which they would align with Proudly SA association. There are approximately 480 000 registered companies in South Africa and the more we get them on board, the more we will increase the products and services awareness.

9. What must Proudly SA eventually become?
Proudly SA is a campaign for all South Africans, meaning, any business, NGO or community structure is eligible to join. We would like all South Africans to know what the logo means—that it means quality, local content and adhering to fair labour and environmental principles with the aim of stimulating demand for locally made products and services. 

10. On your website there is a section called “success stories”. There are 28 in 2002 and 23 in 2003, but from 2004 it decreases with only nine success stories in 2005. Does this mean that no one is updating the website or are there no success stories to tell?
A website is but one of the many communication tools we use to market our members products and services. There are success stories and we utilise other mediums such as press releases, quarterly newsletters and other editorials to communicate these, but we are capacitating and rectifying this section of the website to reflect the success stories of our members.

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