Government programs are helping Blacks earn a share of the country’s lucrative wine business.
Not too long ago, South Africa’s prized vineyards looked much like plantations: owned solely by whites and worked by Blacks. Now, the tide is turning and Black South Africans are beginning to try their hand at controlling the cultivation and sale of South African wines in increasing numbers.
The industry pulls in $3 billion a year, and thanks to government-sponsored affirmative action and land redistribution programs, more and more Blacks are poised to take in their share of the earnings. Also changing in South Africa are the tastes of Black consumers. Events like the Soweto Wine Festival, set in the famous township that became synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle, also looks to help wine consumption grow among Blacks. The festival features 900 wines and promotes local Soweto restaurants and cuisine.
"It's a very progressive, young Sowetan market and it is wonderful to be part of that," one of the festival sponsors, Caroline Sunders, told Reuters.
In addition to breaking into new sectors, Black South Africans are also beginning to see themselves represented more in the country’s financial markets. According to a recent study, Black South Africans now own nearly 17 percent of the 100 top companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The number is in stark contrast to last year’s figure of 8 percent Black ownership and shows one result of the government’s attempts to help stimulate Black economic progress after decades of apartheid rule. The goal now is to have blacks hold 25 percent of the locally-owned shares by 2017.
(Photo: Tony Gentile/REUTERS)