Archive for January, 2016

Control the Controllables

Posted on: January 27th, 2016 by Rob Opie No Comments

January 2016. What a month it was.

What with the double- edged sword of drought and a downward spiralling rand already starting to impact inflation , many shares tanking as much as 40 % on the JSE as investor confidence in Brand South Africa plunges – and significantly no mention of  ‘The Rainbow Nation’ at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos .

But, and BUT is the most powerful word in the English dictionary, there was also some good news.


On the sporting front , Brand South Africa welcomed a new hero in “KG “ Rabada , and the month of January also saw the significant listing of Anheuser- Busch InBev on the JSE  – which went mostly unnoticed.

AB InBev ,CEO Carlos Brito, who is no stranger to challenge, was forthright with his message to South Africans:

The things we can control, we deliver on : Carlos Brito

When times get tough , it’s wise to have a game plan which seeks to  ‘control the controllables’.

Tough times also call for a period of introspection and a mindset of:

Turning Adversity to Advantage.

And it’s in tough times when some tough questions need to be answered

Let’s ask these tough questions of Brand South Africa as at today.


The Brand Reality Check: Where do we come from, where are we now and where do we want to be ?

It’s now abundantly clear that investor confidence in Brand South Africa (and President Jacob Zuma) has taken a plunge and something needs to be done urgently.

Maybe, this question should be re-phrased as:

What would Nelson Mandela have done?

Firstly, he would have reprimanded those who choose to use racist remarks to pull the country down. He would have reminded us all that in tough times, the call is for us all to pull closer together – not further apart.

And that we all have that collective responsibility to Brand South Africa – and its future.

We are here for the long term. That’s where the benefits are: Carlos Brito

The Brand Diagnostics: What is working for us   , and what is not working for us?

Right at the top of our priorities , should be what we are doing to lessen the impact of a drought disaster – which has all but destroyed South Africa’s current cycle of food production.

Governments who face a natural disaster – such as a flood – immediately implement disaster planning .

But , for some reason little is being done to support the farmers who face financial ruin – the consequences of which will be ongoing ‘Hyper Food Inflation” – as we are now forced to import with a significantly weaker rand.

This will shortly impact most seriously on the poor who rely heavily on maize and bread for stomach fill.

Our farmers need immediate governmental support to ” stay in the game “.

Let’s hope they get it soon, before it’s too late.

The Brand Game Plan: Where do we need to focus ? And what urgent steps should be taken?

There can be little doubting that the most prevalent move would be to move first and foremost to restore the rand to fair and equal value.

And the fastest way to do that is to restore investor confidence in Brand South Africa.

This means it’s time for a new leader – and for President Jacob Zuma to hand over the reins to someone who can do it. (just like Hashim did )

It’s high time for government and business ( including farmers ) to move ever closer.

Let’s trust and hope that our President acts sooner, rather than later, for the good of all South Africans.

Brand South Africa. One Country. One Team

It’s Carlos Brito who does not appear to be a man who hangs around and invests when things cannot be controlled. A man with plan A,B,C and D.

When we commit. We deliver. Investors know that  : Carlos Brito.


Brand South Africa. Three things we should focus on to make 2016 great

Posted on: January 12th, 2016 by Rob Opie No Comments

The most important thing I have learnt in life is to focus my energy on what is important in life – Bill Gates


We’re well into the new year and Brand South Africa is under pressure as its ‘distracters’ turn to social media to voice their personal opinions .

Sadly, social media rants do very little to help build our country, and serve only to distract from the harsh realities which we should be focussing on together.

It’s at times like this that we need to focus more on what’s important for Brand South Africa.

Here are three important things for 2016:


Having been in the food business most of my life and worked on brands like Iwisa and Ace, here’s how it’ s going to impact -unless we box significantly more clever in 2016 .

Unknown to most people, white maize is not commonly available and commonly traded on world markets.

Hence the price of white maize has simply rocketed and will continue to do so as the severe drought impacts. As will the price of yellow maize, which is a major feed component in animal feeds.

This will foremostly and severely impact on millions of South Africans who choose maize as their number one stomach fill.

The sky high relative price of maize then creates a switching effect to other carbohydrate fillers, such as bread. While wheat is commonly available and traded on the world markets, we will now be directly exposed to the plunging rand.

The net result, unless the rand can be turned soon – is that food inflation will rocket in 2016.

Put more bluntly,

  higher maize prices trigger a knock-on effect for overall inflation in South Africa .

This leads to the immediate question:

How can we  urgently return the rand to a reasonable fair international valuation ?


Sometimes business can teach sport. And sometimes sport can teach business.


Brand South Africa is a business. And businesses are commonly measured by their share price.

Brand South Africa is best measured by what global investors have to say about the rand relative to the dollar.

A fair exchange rate would be 12/13, but  recently it has touched 18 – as global investors  pronounce a continuing no – confidence vote .

In sport, we have recently seen an admirable move by Hashim Amla – in his standing down after Brand Proteas took a knock under his immediate leadership .

No one doubts Hashim’s cricketing genius, and most people understand where he is coming from – in helping to further build Brand Proteas .

Naturally this decision is not an easy one, but the more I think about it, the more I believe I can be of greater value to the Proteas as a fully focused batsman and senior player at this time of rebuilding our team.

I felt someone else could do a better job   –   Hashim Amla

It’s high time for President Jacob Zuma to take heed and do what is right for Brand South Africa –  if we are to avoid   ”rand and food”  triggered  double- digit inflation .


The plummeting rand has forced many South African based businesses to evaluate the way forward – especially those exposed to importing against the rand. This is exactly what Brand South Africa does not require – as this can and will impact negatively on employment levels.

  We need to continue building a Win- Win culture – where everyone wins

The business of government needs to grab this opportunity window to move far closer to SA business itself.

Without support no one wins

Thankfully we are seeing positive change already  – and we truly have some great leaders who can make this happen.

Hats off to Pravin Gordhan. Hats off to Brian Molefe .Hats off Hashim Amla. Hats off to all our brilliant leaders in business and sport – who are building Brand South Africa in so many ways – each and every day.

So often their contributions go unnoticed. Like the billions added to South African tax coffers by genius business leaders on exponential global  expansion paths – whilst remaining fiercely loyal to the JSE  – and their fellow countrymen.

It’s Brand South Africa at its very best .

C’mon. Let’s make sunny South Africa a continued place where there’s a succession of smiles , by focusing on what’s important .

Smile. Pass it on