Durban, Western Cape -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/03/2012 -- In 2011, the value of imports from China to Africa came to $93 billion. This increasing economic tie is creating the influx of the mass produced goods so prevalent all over South Africa. But what are the consequences of this mass market? One major concern is the increasing unemployment rate due to factories closing down, which is leading to the escalating level of crime and violence in South Africa.
Africa owns an enormous wealth of skill, innovators, designers and crafters who produce unique and resilient goods that are proudly African and that epitomize what this continent represents. By training, developing and empowering these individuals and assisting them with the tools and springboard to markets, Africa can most certainly become a pivotal global player, creating sustainability and viable solutions for the many challenges faced by this continent. Instead of sending out the present message of poverty, corruption and hunger, a radical mind shift will enable a more profound and positive message for Africa: To ensure that our resources benefit the citizens of the continent before their export and subsequent import in a processed form.
Another concern today is the horror of global warming and the ongoing quest to protect this fragile planet we live on, but it is fortunately creating another positive shift in righting the wrongs of the past. One main remedy is the enforcement of recycling of products and goods. The saying: “Another man's garbage is another man's treasure” certainly rings true in the case of an innovative South African company called Ben & Bear who has found winning solutions for both these challenges.
Ben & Bear sources and supports local suppliers throughout South Africa and Africa, where vision becomes a reality in the form of artistic yet innovative and functional products. Waste becomes renewed in eco and contemporary products such as corporate gifts and merchandising, promotional products, fashion, lifestyle and household accessories. These contemporary products are made by small emerging businesses creating employment, and providing the necessary skills training or utilizing skills that have previously been made redundant, in communities which are suffering from high unemployment rates. Both of these form the fundamental pillars of Ben & Bear.
Founder of Ben & Bear, Raewyn du Toit says: “The driving force of my company is based on changing the mindset to more ethical consumerism and providing a platform for consumers to find local ethical products. I can sum it up in the quote by Paul Barken who said: ““Business is the only mechanism on the planet today powerful enough to produce the changes necessary to reverse environmental and societal degradation.”” “It demonstrates how in today’s budget restrained time deficient society, we can take that which has been thrown away and deemed redundant and transform it into something useful, functional and new. We are also supporting employment opportunities for local South African and African innovators and craftspeople who are working within credible and sustainable businesses which empower and enrich themselves as well as their communities. We now need the valuable support buyers can give by changing their own or their company’s purchasing habits, by not focusing solely on mass produced imported goods, but by finding local options.”
Du Toit continues: “We would like to invite decision makers to continue with us on our journey and help encourage others to do the same, within both the corporate and private markets. We face an ever darkening issue on both the social and environmental horizons, if consumers don’t attempt to shift their mindset by supporting local enterprise and giving back to the communities surrounding them or by striving to buy eco/recycled products, where it is practical. “
For more information on the products, inspirational stories of suppliers and collections, visit http://www.benandbear.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/benandbear
NOTE TO EDITOR:
Raewyn du Toit, the founder and owner of Ben & Bear is a born and bred South African. She recently returned to South Africa, after working in Borneo, Singapore, Thailand and Botswana for 14 years as a brand strategist. In Borneo, her boutique creative business, Crazy Creative, designed and hand painted fashion and lifestyle items. While in Singapore for 7 years, she furthered her studies in the branding field and during this time, Raewyn started her own brand consultancy, Gitano Communications, which also led her into the marketing and public relations fields. Her time in Thailand saw her working on various branding and communications projects in the hospitality and property industries where she gained vast international experience and contacts. In 2011 she spent 5 months in Botswana and then relocated to Stellenbosch, resurrecting Ben & Bear which had initially been started in Thailand in 2008. She now operates from Hilton, KZN and focuses on Ben & Bear solely.
The concept of Ben & Bear emanates from Ben, Raewyn’s son and the spiritual meanings of Bear, the majestic forest creature. While hibernating in winter, it garners strength, wisdom and intuition, reaching its zenith in Spring and Summer. This animal represents the interrelationship between the person within the environment of creation, personal truth within the realm and the universe. The Bear helps people recognize personal truth and when to stand up for rights and when to walk away. The Bear also stands for death, rebirth and transformation, the very nucleus of Ben & Bear.
Ben & Bear
Mobile: +27 (0)72 863 6916
Durban, Western Cape, South Africa