We Salute You!

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 28: Miriam Makeba, vocal, performs on May 28th 1996 at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (Photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)

Miriam Makeba – Late legendary singer and civil rights activist (Photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns)


Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - Anti-apartheid activist and the first woman to lead the Organisation of African Unity

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – Anti-apartheid activist and the first woman to lead the Organisation of African Unity


Wendy Luhabe - Businesswoman, social entrepreneur and economic activist

Wendy Luhabe – Businesswoman, social entrepreneur and economic activist


Winnie Mandela - Political activist

Winnie Mandela – Political activist


Caster-Semenya - Middle-distance runner and world champion

Caster Semenya – Middle-distance runner
and world champion

Helen Joseph - Late anti-apartheid activist

Helen Joseph – Late anti-apartheid activist


Baleka Mbete - Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa

Baleka Mbete – Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa


Lira - Singer and South African Music Awards winner

Lira – Singer and South African Music Awards winner


Pelé: In a League of His Own


Considered the greatest player of all time by many around the world, the legendary Brazilian footballer achieved records which remain unbeaten today. BRICS Journal looks back on his electrifying career.

“I arrived hoping to stop a great man, but I went away convinced I had been undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us.” – Costa Pereira

To any fan of the beautiful game, Pelé is much more than just a retired footballer: He is a global icon. Even after 39 years in retirement, the world is yet to produce a soccer player that comes close to Pelé’s talent and skill. Costa Pereira, who was a goal-keeper at the time, is famously quoted saying this of Pelé after playing against his team in 1962: “I arrived hoping to stop a great man, but I went away convinced I had been undone by someone who was not born on the same planet as the rest of us.”

In 1958 the 17-year-old Pele was the youngest player in the FIFA World Cup tournament held in Sweden. He was also the youngest player to ever play in the World Cup, a record which was broken by Norman Whiteside, who was six months younger than Pelé, in 1982.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, he became known as “Pelé” along the way. While there is a tale that he picked up this name because he couldn’t pronounce one of his favourite player’s names – Bilé – properly, Pelé stated in his autobiography that he had no idea what the name meant, or where it came from and neither did his old school buddies.

His 1958 performance cemented his name in the minds of football lovers around the world when the then teen scored two of the five goals that would secure Brazil’s first-ever World Cup win. He went on to secure two more World Cup wins for his country, a feat no other soccer player has achieved to date. At the age of 75, Pelé reflected on that moment in a letter to his younger self with the words: “At the 1958 final, I passed out and fell to the ground. The emotion was simply too much for my body.”

In 1968 he made history yet again, this time with his now famous bicycle kick. The technique is one of the most difficult to execute and rarely perfected. Not only does the player need to maintain good form when executing the move, he must simultaneously exhibit exceptional accuracy and precision when striking the ball. Pelé pulled it off without a hitch in a game against Belgium.

By 1969 Pelé’s fan base had reached Nigeria too and Santos was scheduled to play in the country, which was in the throes of a civil war. The games had been arranged well in advance, and for financial reasons the Brazilians decided not to cancel. The two sides agreed to a 48-hour truce and soldiers from both sides reportedly attended the matches. The war resumed after two-day period had lapsed.

Read more at BRICS JOURNAL…

Cuisine and Culture

By Ariane Sommer

Next to living within a country and speaking the language, food is one of the most important means to understanding a culture.

I fell in love with the philosophy behind food in China. The principles of yin and yang – hot and cold, male and female – lie at the heart of Chinese cuisine and can be found in any of its dishes.  

You can learn culture through cuisine. The way we consume and acquire it, the fashion in which it gets cooked and by whom, who is invited to the table and who eats first, such tradition is a form of nonverbal communication – a social code abundant with meaning.

Cuisine is a source of pleasure and pride, elevating the basic act of eating from a purely biological necessity to an art. In many places of the world it is one of the main instruments of socialisation and identification.

Every culture has designated what it considers to be edible, which type of animal can be eaten and how it should be prepared – Judaism and Islam being among the most prominent instances. Food often is used symbolically by nations; it tells us what is important to them and can educate us about their history.

The concept of joie de vivre, for example, is reflected in the finesse of the French cuisine, with unique national dishes such as coq au vin, and pot-au-feu. France is probably the country in the world most obsessed with food definitions. Tremendous protocol is i volved in the act of branding a product. People can deliberate for hours on what a French baguette is supposed to be, and will de- fend their position furiously. But we forgive them, after all, Brie de Meaux isn’t just any brie, champagne isn’t just any sparkling wine – and a French baguette has a very specific recipe, a fact reaffirmed when I returned home from my trip to Paris and searched in vain for a decent equivalent.

So-called “national dishes” render a concise picture about how a culture interacts within and how it wishes to be seen from the outside. The Sachertorte from Austria comes to mind, a result of the vibrant late-19th century Vienna coffee-house culture which prevails to this day. Or the Yorkshire pudding and chicken tikka masala of Great Britain, the incorporation of the latter being evidence of a long-standing history of colonialism and immigration with India. National dishes, or what we perceive as such, also function as stereotypes. Although most of these have positive or neutral connotations, they can as well acquire a derogatory tone.

Read more at BRICS JOURNAL…


The Big Screen Boom

By Nishant Joshi

Actress, screenwriter and director Jeanne Moreau described cinema as “the mirror of the world”, a concept that has assumed increasing relevance in a world overloaded with so much information that it is often difficult to separate noise from authentic information. Likewise, a film camera possesses latent power in its ability to both set the scene for culture and serve as its catalyst.
It’s a well-worn trope: art reflects society, which in turn absorbs the art into its culture. As such, art is an
integral part of the life blood of all countries. This is even more relevant in the emerging BRICS nations, which are constantly finding new ways in which to affirm their respective identities on the international stage. Each member nation of BRICS possesses a unique culture, of which cinema plays a key role.

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GLOBAL POWER: The US Election’s impact on BRICS

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Some experts say that the many unresolved issues between the BRICS countries and the US will stand in the way, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins. BRICS Journal asks academics and journalists for their political take

The basic approach will not change, US-centrism and commitment to US leadership/hegemony is an integral part of the American political mindset.” – Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs

“… the US still looks at BRICS as individual countries, albeit important countries. That may change when the BRICS development bank starts to make serious loans.” – David H Shinn, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University

“The BRICS exchange has led to enhanced cooperation among the members along a wide range of policy areas where ministerial and expert-level work is conducted.” – Scott Firsing, an adjunct professor of International Politics and National Security at Coastal Carolina University 


“The India-Brazil-SA (IBSA) members of BRICS are all viewed individually and in bilateral terms. US policy overall is to ‘cherry pick’ among different countries in accordance with whatever agenda it has in play,” Francis Kornegay, senior research fellow at the Institute of Global Dialogue at the University of South Africa



With a few months to the next US presidential elections, media experts and scholars are discussing how the US foreign policy will be restructured under the new president and its implications for the BRICS countries. Later this year, the Republican Party’s nominee Donald Trump or the former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, representing the Democrats, will replace President Barrack Obama in the White House in Washington, DC. Some experts say that whether Trump or Clinton wins, US policy will generally seek to intimidate Russia, and this would lead to high tensions between the US and Russia.

“The US view on BRICS is swinging between utter hostility and disparaging neglect. There are two ways [the US] interprets [BRICS]: it is an anti-American alliance forged by ugly Putin on the first hand, or that BRICS is a virtual non-existent fantasy by failing giants. [Subconsciously, perhaps they are] concerned by the emergence of something big and non-Western, but never articulate it because they don’t want to legitimise it,” says FYODOR LUKYANOV, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Russia in Global Affairs and a member of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy in Moscow.

Lukyanov does not foresee a significant role will be played by Trump or Clinton in reshaping BRICS. The basic approach will not change, US-centrism and commitment to US leadership/hegemony is an integral part of the American political mindset. Although he does think that Trump could engender further hostility.

DAVID H SHINN, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in the US, however, explains that the US looks at BRICS as an organization. It still looks at BRICS as individual countries, albeit important countries. That may change when the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) starts to make serious loans.

According to an agreement made during the group’s sixth summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in July 2014, the BRICS member countries established the NDB, with an initial authorised capital of $100 billion at its disposal. The bank officially started its operations in the Chinese city of Shanghai on 21 July, 2015.

Shinn, who is a former US ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and Burkina Faso (1987-90), says: “To the best of my knowledge, Trump has said nothing about BRICS and I doubt he has given any thought to the organisation. Clinton, having served as Secretary of State for four years, is clearly familiar with BRICS, but I don’t believe she has discussed them so far during the campaign. I doubt that the election of either Clinton or Trump would change the US approach to BRICS as an organisation. But there could be significant differences in the way the two candidates deal with individual member countries, especially Russia and China.”

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What if the New Development Bank funded SMMEs?

By Mpendulo Dlamini

Mpendulo Dlamini, Founder and Managing Director of Umbuso Advisory, a corporate finance advisory firm for Small and Medium Enterprises, analyses the difficulty of access to funding for SMMEs and the role of the BRICS bank.

[SMMEs] are playing an increasingly important role in developing market economies. That they have great difficulty accessing funding is a travesty…

As more and more details emerge about the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), it is clear that it will function as a typical development finance institution (DFI), albeit multilateral. It will also function as a critical policy instrument providing an alternative to the current Western-dominated multilateral funding institutions, whose development goals remain increasingly alienating.

I say typical not in the cynical sense, which implies bloated and staffed with incompetence, but rather typical in that its aim has historically been focused on development banking – large-scale commercial developments and, more importantly, infrastructure projects.

While there is nothing wrong with this aim, these larger development projects are becoming easier to fund with market-related instruments. These instruments make the diligence process more stringent and, as a result, can remove historical problems that multilateral development bank (MDB) and development bank (DB) financed infrastructure projects face. These problems include cost overruns; disruptions caused by labour delays and disputes; environmental issues; construction delays; engineering problems; designs disagreements; and supplier collusion, among other things.

The Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) has taken an interesting view on the role of MDBs, and it’s worth considering. In loose developmental speak, it outlines the role of MDBs as funding institutions that:

  • Take a leading role in creating new financial packages with the involvement of commercial banks and other financial institutions, such as loan syndication of large projects, guarantee schemes for start-up industry sectors;
  • Operate as advocates of development, promoting the “business of development” such as job-generation, domestic resource mobilisation, countryside development and urban renewal, among many other development aid projects; and
  • Operate as a bank of last resort, providing finance to projects which no other financial institution will fund.


It can be seen from the above that development banks can become funders of projects that no other financial institution will fund. However, there are few areas where this description is more apt than in the area of SMMEs.

SMMEs account for that vast majority of private sector employment in the Americas, Europe and Asia. One can arguably say the same with African private sector employment if one considers the “informal” sector.

Whether or not we consider this African context, we cannot doubt that SMMEs contribute considerably to employment and domestic GDPs across the world. They are playing an increasingly important role in developing market economies. That they have great difficulty accessing funding is a travesty, but it is also the great opportunity in financing, especially DB financing.

The standard reasons for commercial banks’ current decline in providing funding to SMMEs is that they are too risky. This means understanding, and therefore mitigating, their risk is too expensive for the banks to make it worthwhile.

View full article here

Growing your business in India


It’s the fastest growing democracy in BRICS countries. More and more global companies are working on expanding within India, which is home to a fifth of the global population. But it’s a high-patience game that requires you to follow a golden global rule: respect for a local way of doing business.

India offers a very large and long-term market with more than 50% of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65% below the age of 35


3 reasons India’s the most attractive market right now

  1. Of all listed companies in India, 67% are family businesses and the majority of them are still run in a traditional setup. Most of these are in the manufacturing of general products and trading commodities.
  2. With the economic policies getting more liberal and foreign direct investment (FDI) being permitted in the majority of the sectors, many traditional businesses are facing tough competition due to limited finances and an ecosystem less conducive for research and development (R&D).
  3. The cost of capital in India is high and profit margins are shrinking, so it’s essential that businesses create real value propositions for their sustenance and profitability. While India is a large, execution-based market, those with strong ideas and a willingness to collaborate will flourish. This opens up new opportunities for companies from around the globe to enter the market.



If you’re looking at expanding in the Indian market, it is important to dwell deeper into these points:


Choose the right business partners

You need to bank upon the wisdom of a local expert to help you drive your business with the resources they already possess. Finding a partner whose vision is aligned with yours is important. Before entering into any agreement, invest in proper due diligence – it can save you time and money.

Have faith in your Indian partner. Indians are usually trustworthy and born accustomed to the challenges of doing business. They do not too much interference when it comes to decision making, but at the same time are receptive to suggestions and changes, if it is for the benefit of the business.


Raise strategic investments

This model is very helpful for startups or mid-size companies which have unique technologies, but don’t have access to the capital necessary for expansion. Finding local partners, who have access to customers, to invest in the business is ideal. Many large Indian corporations like Reliance Industries, Adani Group and Infosys are actively scouting to invest in companies strategically aligned to their businesses.

Indian software giant Infosys recently made investments in Israeli startup CloudEndure – a cloud-based migration and disaster recovery service – and Silicon Valley-based data analytics startup Trifacta, with a view to increasing their value offering to their existing customers.

Read more on BRICS JOURNAL

The Untold BRICS Stories: Entrepreneurship in India

By Aarti Betigeri

“India is a tremendously exciting place to be for entrepreneurs compared to 10 years ago. We now have stories of success, not just of big names but also in our own circles. That’s a great motivator.”

When Nishanth Chopra was doing an internship in his family’s textile production factory in regional southern India, he quickly realised that things were not always what they seemed. Fabric labelled “organic” was still being produced in an environment where chemical fumes would spew out of machines into the faces of factory workers, who were not always wearing protective gear. His father insisted that all chemicals complied with international organic regulations, but Chopra was unconvinced; so much so that he soon decided that, rather than join the 60-year-old family business, he would forge his own path.

“I’d discovered at university that my interests lay in sustainability, so when I came home, I realised that [the family business] was not for me. I had always wanted to do something ethical and environmentally friendly, but working with the chemicals and fumes didn’t appeal,” says Chopra, 22. After some thought, he settled on fashion: it was an industry that dovetailed nicely with the family trade, yet was something he could pursue in a sustainable way, and an industry that was exciting, interesting and would allow him to travel and meet people.

Fast forward to March this year and Oshadi (“essence of nature”) was born. It is a line that uses India’s unique textile heritage: natural dyes and handwoven fabrics, along with cutting-edge design. In just a few months and one small capsule collection in, Oshadi has exhibited at Paris Fashion Week and the Milan White Show. “I found a designer who has come out of Central St Martins and has also worked for some of the big fashion houses. He does the design while I focus on sourcing handloom textiles for it,” he says. It is a small capsule collection of dresses, pants, jackets and shirts, and the next one is due to drop in November.

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