Select Page

Local fashion steals (some of) the show at BRICS.


Anyone who followed the three-day BRICS summit in Joburg will undoubtedly agree that it was totally overshadowed by the fierce trade war, instigated by the US President Donald Trump, as world leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China gathered in South Africa, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa. They had one mission in mind – how do we increase cooperation, facilitate economic transformation and become a global force?

In my opinion, the rise in status and stature of BRICS is something to definitely keep an eye on. Since its formation in 2009, it has been a force to be reckoned with. My first participation at the BRICS summit was during 2013 in Durban. Since then, the organization, has shaped the direction of the world’s economy with its formation of the BRICS Development Bank in 2014, now called the New Development Bank, which has facilitated over USD6billion worth of projects. It has also established the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which is a framework for the provision of support through liquidity and precautionary instruments in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.

The objective of this reserve is to provide protection against global liquidity pressures and is seen as a competitor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2016, a BRICS financial services working group was established to help with determining the viability of establishing the BRICS credit ratings agency. Experts believe that it’s now close to reality and a formation agreement is temporarily on hold, pending further engagement with member countries.

The 10th BRICS summit was not only about big money and striking mutually-beneficial trade deals, it also offered delegates the opportunity to engage with start-ups and attend a fashion show.

22 on Sloane, Africa’s largest and arguably one of the world’s most innovative start-up campuses was honoured to host the BRICS fashion show, which was championed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The fashion show, produced by the renowned Carol Bouwer, saw fashionistas such as Rubicon and David Tlale to name a few, embrace the opportunity for models to grace the catwalk parading their creations in front of the BRICS delegates. Dr Precious Motsepe, Founder of African Fashion International (AFI), was among other dignitaries, which included the British High Commissioner and other prominent ministers, who attended the occasion.

Now it’s a known fact that start-ups have a huge economic role to play in various countries. With this in mind, I would really like to see BRICS use its platforms and resources to look at ways to partner with various high-impact start-ups, specifically in the technology space, which cuts across all industries, whether it’s manufacturing, agro-processing, mining, health, energy, transport, education, fashion and numerous others.

Some of the BRICS countries seem to be leading in various investment deals in the global startup platform. Proof of the pudding is in the various lucrative deals that have already been made in the last year alone, such as India’s Ola, which is a ride-sharing start-up company that raised USD1billion in investments and the Chinese Sense Time company, which rose over USD1.2billion just this year. South Africa is also perfectly positioned strategically to put its weight behind facilitating similar deals for its high-impact start-ups, via the New Development Bank or various other VC’s and funding agencies.

I believe BRICS is here to stay and will help transform the economic landscape of the world for the better in the very near future. Today, BRICS countries control 22-23% of the global GDP, worth a staggering USD40trillion-plus. And, with its involvement with various other developing countries, such as Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Madagascar, Botswana, Turkey, Jamaica, Argentina and many others that attended this year’s summit, the BRICS bloc is now a true financial force to be reckoned with.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chair of Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa, 22 on Sloane which is Africa’s largest startup campus.