Soweto Gold Brewery was founded five years ago to tap into a market in the predominately black suburb of Soweto looking for unique tasting beer.
But owner, Ndumiso Madlala said he struggled to grow the business for craft beer while drinkers battling job losses, high personal debt levels and a weak economy shunned premium priced alcoholic drinks.
Madlala places much of the blame on the administration of Jacob Zuma, who reluctantly resigned as president last week after a nine-year tenure plagued by corruption allegations and economic stagnation.
Zuma denies all wrongdoing.
“When we started the brand Soweto Gold, we started at the time that the economy was not doing so well. We’ve seen over the years the sluggish growth in the economy and that has really affected our sales and now with Ramaphosa coming in, we really hope the economy is going to grow fast and with the economy growing fast, small businesses like ourselves can also grow at a much faster rate,” he said.
Madlala is one of many business people in South Africa, as well as investors at home and abroad, who are pinning hopes on Ramaphosa, a former businessman who held stakes in mining company Lonmin, mobile operator MTN Group and McDonald’s South African franchise.
The 65-year-old was sworn in as head of state on Thursday (February 15) after Zuma resigned on orders of the ANC.
Ramaphosa’s election as president, which was unopposed in parliament, has prompted a wave of optimism among South Africans hungry for change.
“He’s been running big businesses. In the past he’s sat in some of the big boardrooms. I know running a country is not exactly the same as running a company. But with somebody like him you’d hope that whatever you learnt in those big boardrooms, especially on the economic front is something he is going to take and try to implement in the country. It’s not entirely the same but the fundamentals are kind of like similar and we hope that with his experience with running big corporates, we should be able to see the economy respond to that and growing at a much bigger rate than it is right now,” added Madlala.
Yet despite the early optimism of Madlala and others, some economists and analysts caution there may be no quick fix for an economy that is forecast to grow just 1.4 percent this year and 1.7 percent in 2019.
Africa’s most developed economy needs faster economic growth to reduce the high joblessness rate – currently at 27 percent – and alleviate the widespread poverty that has persisted since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.