Manufacturing Indaba Newsletter: Blazing the Black Industrialists Trail

In its bid to create a more inclusive economy that is less dependent on commodity exports with a bigger productive base focused on manufacturing, the Department of Trade & Industry launched its Black Industrialist Programme in February 2016. The Programme aims to empower 100 black industrialists, to create more black-owned manufacturing firms and to grow the country’s manufacturing job growth. The government has set aside a R23 billion investment, with more investment set for the future.

The programme derives from the South African Constitution’s injunction for the need to restore the dignity of all citizens through deliberate socio-economic promotion of the historically marginalised sections of the population. The Department of Trade & Industry’s Black Industrialist’s Programme will speed up the growth of black industrialists involved in the productive sectors of the economy.

In conventional terms, the concept of black industrialists refers to black people directly involved in the origination, creation, significant ownership, management and operation of industrial enterprises that derive value from the manufacturing of goods and services at a large scale; acting to unlock the productive potential of our country’s capital assets for massive employment locally. The following are important elements of being an “industrialist”:

  • Significant influence in an enterprise or industry;
  • Control of an enterprise through shareholding;
  • Board and executive management control; and
  • Production of products (goods and/or services) with significant wide use.

The mission of the black industrialists programme is to set up 100 black industrialists over the medium term: 30 in 2016, 30 this year and 40 in the third year. Applications in the agro-processing, plastic, pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment and metals sectors have been approved in the previous financial year. The Industrial Development Corporation, the Land Bank and the Public Investment Corporation are taking part in the project.

The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) has financially supported 24 black-owned companies so far since the inception of its Black Industrialists Programme.

The South African Premier Business Awards, supported by the Department of Trade & Industry, took place in Sandton at the end of last year and saw Ms Nana Sabelo being crowned the inaugural winner of the Black Industrialist Award in recognition of her business’ efforts to contribute in the country’s economic growth and job creation through manufacturing and economic transformation.

In a keynote speech delivered at the event, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, said the Black Industrialist Award recognised black-empowered enterprises with a high employment creation rate. The award, he added, was aimed at promoting transformation, broad-based participation and industrialisation amongst historically disadvantaged individuals and communities.

Ms. Sabelo’s company, Thata uBeke (TUB) Manufacturing and its success bears testimony to her determination to toil long and hard in order to earn her stripes in the cut-throat world of business and the manufacturing sector in particular.

TUB is a 100% black, woman-owned company which started trading in 2008.  It comprises of four divisions, namely electronics, electro-mechanical, design and quality assurance.  The company, which is based in Ekurhuleni and has a staff complement of 190 people, including 50 interns from Denel, operates in the military, automotive, mining, agriculture, renewable energy and security industries across South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Europe.

“The award brings hope to black women in particular, and black manufacturers in general because we are always told that we cannot make it in the manufacturing sector. The fact that it is an augural award means that we are part of this pioneering process of getting black people to participate and contribute meaningfully in the economy of this country. We are proud of this achievement. I hope all black manufacturers will be inspired knowing that their hard work will be recognised and rewarded,” said Sabelo.

Sabelo expressed her support for the Black Industrialists Programme saying the financial assistance that government will be providing to black manufacturers will go a long way in speeding up economic transformation.

*Source: Department of Trade & Industry

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