From left, Brand South Africa’s Iggy Sathekge, Belu
Sustaining a successful business through diversification and creativity was the focus of the recent Brand South Africa Stakeholder Summit in Polokwane, Limpopo province.
Initiated by Brand South Africa and taking place in each of the nine provinces, the summits aim to increase provincial participation in the nation-branding effort and encourage active citizenship – which, in turn, will help position the country as a top investment and tourism destination.
Each summit presents South Africans who, through their work and community initiatives, are already active ambassadors for the country. These individuals epitomise the unique characteristics, or pillars, of the South African brand – ubuntu, diversity, sustainability, possibility and innovation.
Speaking at the recent summit, Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola said that the branding of South Africa is not a matter of choice but a necessity in every province, requiring the joint efforts of local government, citizens, business, political parties, charities, the media, academia and sporting organisations.
Endorsing Limpopo’s role in making South Africa a force to be reckoned with throughout the world, province Premier Cassel Mathale added: “It is the combined behaviour of a country’s people and its attributes that make up a brand or identity. A positive identity – or favourable reputation – promotes global competitiveness.”
Mathale noted how the highly successful 2010 Fifa World Cup had, and still is, transforming South Africa’s image, locally and abroad.
“The Brand South Africa is using that legacy of the World Cup to build a globally competitive brand. They are looking forwards, not backwards,” the premier said.
Claiming his space
At the forefront of helping breed a successful nation brand is Stanley Mufamadi, MD of Limpopo’s home-grown Vuwa group.
Mufamadi said his journey, from working in human resource (HR) management to building a diversified portfolio of thriving business ventures, represents the aspirations of all budding entrepreneurs in the province.
“When I came to Limpopo in 1997, there were a lot of opportunities I identified in Polokwane – in HR consulting, in transport and in the tourism and hospitality industry.”
“Because it’s always wise to start with an area that you are comfortable with and have expertise in, I made inroads with HR.”
Mufamadi set up a company called Vuwa Management Consulting, establishing Vuwa as a brand in itself representing quality, consistency and value.
“We chose that name because it’s simple, easy to remember and unique to Limpopo, meaning ‘arise and claim your space’ in Tshivenda.”
Second was Vuwa Transport Services, which began with just one bus, ferrying workers from Polokwane to a mine site some distance from the city.
“The job was done very well – we went from a single bus to operating 12 buses in seven years with no fatalities or accidents. That happened because we had shown commitment to the promise of the Vuwa brand.”
From here, Mufamadi branched into tourism with Vuwa Safari and Tours – which now offers a variety of tour packages, overnight accommodation and conference facilities – and a new chain of lodges.
“We’ve invested a lot in promoting this branch on radio and in newspapers and we are competing very well at the moment. We’re proud of the space we’re taking in the tourism industry,” he added.
Passion, teamwork and strategic investment in operational facilities are among Mufamadi’s secrets of success.
“As an emerging operator, you have to invest in communications – you need to be seen, you need to be available and you need to be contactable.
“You also need to learn as much as you can about your industry, benchmark against the best and comply with all statutory requirements, especially the South African Revenue Service.”
In the Vuwa consulting business, “expert knowledge, competent staff, on-time delivery and quality” are key, Mufamadi said.
“The success factors of Vuwa Safari and Tours include strict compliance with road transport regulations, a professional image, participation in international travel tradeshows and expert training.”
Central to building the Vuwa brand has been gaining access to financing from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Industrial Development Corporation, among others.
“In many instances entrepreneurs battle to access grants and loans because their affairs are not in order – but we can testify that we have received very good support from these institutions.”
Next on the horizon for Mufamadi is property development in Limpopo and exploiting opportunities in the local agro-processing industry.
“I want to encourage other entrepreneurs and organisations by telling them that the future looks very, very bright – although there is still a lot of support needed to foster sustainability.
“What we need is to see more stock exchange-listed companies that originated in Limpopo – driven by the very people who live here,” he said.