A royal commitment to community upliftment


Antoinette Vermooten was “on a sabbatical” from her legal career when, while working at Eikendal Wine Estate between Somerset West and Stellenbosch, she met King Goodwill Zwelithini.

They discussed their concerns about high unemployment and hatched a plan to create jobs by producing a range of luxury products endorsed by the king and bearing the royal crest.

Thus emerged the BAYEDE! trademark, incorporating the royal crest and the king’s signature as part of its packaging. Bayede is an ancient Zulu greeting that means “hail the king”.

The social enterprise said BAYEDE! was gradually becoming recognised for its BEE and job creation. The company’s products are styled as luxury brands through the infusion of handcrafted finishings on the packaging. The wine is decorated with beadwork crafted by rural women from KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

“So far, there are six different beading groups comprising about 300 crafters from rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the Western Cape. It is our plan to see these groups increase in numbers and we also hope to start new beading groups in other provinces”, says Vermooten.

“The idea of including the beads as part of the packaging is three-fold: it adds novelty and value to the wine, tells a story about the wine’s African legacy and, most importantly, provides a vehicle to market the product and creates employment for hundreds of South Africans. The beadwork is the biggest job creator for us a company. We have raised R650 000 for ladies for beadwork, which is a wonderful success that has the potential to go further. I always say that the day when I’ve made R1 million for the ladies from the beading is when I say that I’ve truly made a difference. People think it must be a big thing to make a difference, but it can be something as small as this. The beadwork portrays the SA flag colours, tells a story and is bringing hope to people,” she says.

On achieving transformation within the industry, Vermooten says there is a lot of work still to be done, as while there are 3 500 white-owned wine producers, there are only 50 black-owned wine producers. “There’s a huge challenge still and in terms of land ownership in the industry, we are only 2% transformed. The business model of black-owned wine companies like us is that we don’t own land, we own a brand, which we use as our competitive edge. So, we’ve changed the way people think in the wine industry in terms of the actual ownership of land. We use intellectual property as an advantage. There is a lot of transformation needed if you look at the statistics alone—it is very indicative of a slow process,” she explains.

She says that the wine industry is one that is difficult to penetrate and it takes immense drive and perseverance to make your name visible, especially as a woman. She believes that there are too few skills development opportunities for those wishing to enter the sector.

“At BAYEDE!, even though we are a small enterprise, we decided that we would take in interns, qualified ladies from various sectors, every three months—sometimes we keep them longer because they are so amazing. We provide them with in-house training and the experience that they lacked to accompany their qualifications. And I’m proud to say that all of them have full-time jobs after the programme,” Vermooten enthuses.

A highlight of BAYEDE! was when South Africa’s first royal brand once again made history by becoming the first SA wine company to sign a supply agreement with Walmart China in 2013. Vermooten says it was a great event that showed that SA brands had the capability to compete with international brands and reach international audiences. 

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Issue 83


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