From street ven­dor to in­ter­na­tional ex­porter

Vuk'uzenzele - - Changing Lives - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

A KWAZULU-NA­TAL trade and in­ward in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agency is cre­at­ing a plat­form for emerg­ing ex­porters to gain ac­cess to global mar­kets.

Bi­lat­eral trade be­tween South Africa and China has yielded pos­i­tive re­sults for a KwaMashu busi­ness­man who ex­ports or­anges to the East Asian coun­try.

Mthokozisi Mkhwanazi’s Isivuno Food Com­pany re­cently se­cured a con­tract to sup­ply 10 con­tain­ers of this citrus fruit to Shang­hai, which is China’s big­gest city.

The 36-year-old’s jour­ney is a re­mark­able one. He was once a street ven­dor ped­dling pro­duce he bought from the Dur­ban Fresh Pro­duce Mar­ket.

In 2015, he took a leap of faith and started Isivuno, which sources or­anges and grapes from farm­ers across South Africa to ex­port to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Mkhwanazi said win­ning the Shang­hai con­tract would not have been pos­si­ble without the sup­port given to him through the emerg­ing ex­porters pro­gramme run by Trade and In­vest­ment KwaZulu-Na­tal (TIKZN).

“TIKZN has been very in­stru­men­tal in equip­ping me with the skills and plat­forms re­quired for the growth of my busi­ness. The in­cu­ba­tion pro­gramme fo­cuses on ex­port and mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties. I re­ceived step-by-step men­tor­ship through the pro­gramme, in­clud­ing pric­ing and mar­ket­ing the busi­ness to in­ter­na­tional clients.”

He said the or­gan­i­sa­tion as­sisted him to reg­is­ter with the Per­ish­able Prod­ucts Ex­port Con­trol Board so that he could ex­port high-qual­ity prod­ucts to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

“They even or­gan­ised an in­ter­na­tional trade mis­sion to Dong­guan in China, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Dong­guan Eco­nomic and Trade Of­fice. While in China, we had the chance to show­case our busi­nesses and net­work with other in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies,” he said.

The trip was suc­cess­ful and Isivuno won a con­tract to ex­port four tons of grapes to Dong­guan.

TIKZN’s ex­ec­u­tive man­ager of ex­port pro­mo­tion, Lester Bouah, said many in­vestors are re­luc­tant to make in­vest­ments in South Africa be­cause of a lack of un­der­stand­ing of the na­tion.

“But since black busi­nesses like Isivuno started trad­ing with China, the con­fi­dence of in­ter­na­tional in­vestors has im­proved,” he said. Through bi­lat­eral trade be­tween South Africa and China, over 50 Dong­guan-based com­pa­nies are now im­port­ing goods to South Africa while tim­ber, or­anges, grape­fruit and grapes from South Africa are ex­ported to China.

Mthokozisi Mkhwanazi is one of the peo­ple who have taken ad­van­tage of trade re­la­tions be­tween South Africa and China.

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