BY Fast Company Contributor 3 MINUTE READ

The Zuluish kettle brand by Yandisa Zulu has ignited a social media debate about whitelabelling in South Africa.A white-label product is a product or service produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand. White label products are sold by retailers with their own trademark but the products themselves are manufactured by a third party. Some South Africans did not take kindly to the Zuluish kettle brand as a result some tried to point out that the kettle can be found on Alibaba with a different brand. They insisted that the product is simply a product produced in China and rebranded to be on the market in South Africa. As for Yandisa Zulu this is what his brand is about:

“Zuluish is a combination of two words -uish is from a word WISH, a derivative of the word DREAM. It’s always been a dream of mine to get into the industry with a long term vision and dream to be able to have full production in South Africa. A mere dream of a Zulu child from Africa in South Africa”

A South African entrepreneur and investor, Vusi Thembekwayo, weighed in on the matter, see his view and opinion on the matter below (edited for ease of reading):

As we speak you are buying a car called Tata or Peugeot without complaint. And you buy it unaware & not concerned with where the component parts are manufactured.

As we speak you are buying appliances made under 3rd party contract manufacturer (agreements some retailers have with manufacturers in China or Vietnam to produce their private label) from retailers across South Africa without complaint.

As we speak you are using a phone to read this message. That phone was probably made in China but branded under a US, African or EU name.

To think that a start-up entrepreneur who probably has no long-term funding or equity capital, in the southernmost tip of Africa can single handedly reverse globalisation & manufacture his own appliances here without being out-priced in the marketplace is peak of hypocrisy.

Those criticising this young man are the same ones complaining about MaXhosa or Rich Mnisi prices. Clearly not concerned with marginal cost and economies of scale as a driver of prices.

They are the same ones attacking Bathu by implying that Theo doesn’t own that business. They are the same ones attacking Drip for its latest range.

Start a business they say.

But what they really mean is start something small, keep it small & charge the cheapest prices. When a young entrepreneur launched his own brand in electronics & the woke-social-media-soldiers whose only preoccupation is destroying the dreams of others are busy with exactly that, critiquing & destroying.

They clothe their jealousy & superficial understanding of complex issues with salad dressing of being woke. Like they do with everything they don’t understand, they simply label this man a “scam”.

We must be one of a few countries in the world where people label something they don’t understand “a scam”. Instead of being curious and learning, this league of judges scolds, ridicules and character assassinates innovators hiding their malevolence under the cloak of revolutionary thinking.

And when the thing they labelled scam succeeds, then are the first to shout “give back!”.

This mindset is sick. It’s dangerous. It’s a jealousy fueled range posing as wokeness. It’s the peak of hypocrisy. I am buying my Zuluish kettle and shipping it to my new home.

To every critic: you are the problem. You lack understanding & are too busy lining to attack to ask for clarification. Japan imitated the US until it built it’s own manufacturing capacity to be competitive. China copied Japan & the US until it developed its own manufacturing prowess.

Vietnam has been copying China for the past decade & is now a global powerhouse in manufacturing. This is how globalisation works. Imitate what works until you can compete.

Entrepreneurs don’t fix global supply chain. They have to leverage them to build their businesses. Some will read this and comment “yoh. This English is too what what”.

Forget the English. Argue me on the reasoning.

Yandisa Zulu. Bless you mjita.

About the author

Vusi Thembekwayo is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of MyGrowthFund.