From serving customers in a shipping container, to owning an upmarket Imbizo Shisanyama restaurant in the Mall of Tembisa – a classy cuisine and entertainment venue in Clayville.
That is the story of South Africa’s successful businesswoman Rita Zwane, who this week received a major boost from SA Breweries (SAB) Castle Lager brand, with the country’s social and sporting celebrities descending in her Tembisa hangout to offer support.
As part of its campaign to reinvigorate the 126-year-old brand, Castle Lager said it has “invested in the spirit of community and friendship – a natural progression for the beer to become the brand that brings hope”.
In support of its worthy cause, Castle Lager has undertaken to give up its valuable brand assets “in support of the community businesses that make up the fabric of our nation”.
“Through this, the brand will be able to contribute towards beautifying our Kasis (townships) all around Mzansi – uplifting local businesses to the benefit of the township economy,” according to Castle Lager brand director, Wendy Bedforth.
Bedforth said Castle Lager has always been a brand which represented “the values of resilience and unity – bringing South Africans together”.
“What drives pride within us as a proudly South African beer, is that Castle Lager reflects the characteristics and patriotism of South Africans – such as resilience in the face of challenges, a strong sense of community and what we believe is better defined as courageous optimism,” said Bedforth.
“Consequently, the new brand direction will focus on the power of community.
“Castle Lager will be the brand that brings hope and would like to play a role in paying tribute to the amazing communities within South Africa, while reshaping and inspiring our people to take action for the South Africa we all believe is possible,” she added.
She said the precursor to this shift started in 2020, with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic – “when the brand contributed R7 million towards the Solidarity Fund”.
Said Bedforth: “The past two years have been marred by a pandemic and that has made the power of community even more important in what it means to be South African.
“We see these examples with the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods, where many businesses and brands, including Castle, came to the support.
“On our part, we did this through partnering with Gift of the Givers, donating R500 000 to this cause and playing a role in inspiring South Africans to take action.”
As a brand that is invested in the spirit of community and friendship, it was a natural progression for Castle Lager to become “the brand that brings hope”.
“We want to be the brand that espouses our unique South African beliefs, such as ubuntu and one that encourages our communities to support local businesses from within, in order to uplift and grow one another,” explained Bedforth.
Among other brand positioning strategies, Castle Lager will be used to “beautifying and paying tribute to Kasi communities – through creating personalised murals, point of sale elements and a truly powerful beautiful television commercial, with the brand used in partnering with artists and content creators within local communities”.
Bedforth: “Those who are able to tell the story and beauty of our people.
“Roughly 12 million South Africans are currently living in Kasi, with many having being born and raised there.
“We want to celebrate the beauty, resilience and courageous optimism of these communities, because they are what makes our nation so great.
“Our expression: ‘It’s within’, is a colloquial term used to describe this spirit of the Kasi, the characteristics that make us South African.”
“We are simply saying that from Kasi to Kasi, coast to coast, one spirit makes us great.
“That same South African spirit is found with Castle Lager – 100% South African lager,” said Bedforth.
High profile sporting personalities – coming out to grace the Zwane occasion – included Proteas captain Temba Bavuma, Blue Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka, Supersport Sport United and Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams, Springbok Johan Goosen and radio personality and businessman DJ Sbu Leope.
Addressing guests, an emotionally overwhelmed Zwane said: “This makes me think back to the years of containers – where I started.
“Today I am proud to have become an inspiration to young people like DJ Sbu, who has described me in a way that has made me to blush.
“You guys have no idea about the struggles that we went through.
“Imagine serving customers from a two-by-six metres shipping container, which I used as a spaza shop, a display fridge for meat at Busy Corner in Ebony Park.
“I used a calculator – not the cash registers that you see today.
“I don’t want the next generation to face the same struggles that we went through – eventually being granted a liquor licence after so much hardship.”