In 1999, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park at St Lucia became South Africa's first of eight sites to be included on the World Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

blacklikeme 1999blacklikeme 1999In the last year of the last century, when South Africa's democracy was just five years old, while Unesco was approving the inclusion of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on its World Heritage List, the Industrial Development Corporation was promoting economic transformation and empowerment with a local company called Black Like Me.

The company has become an international hair care brand with South African flair thanks in no small part to the IDC. It began in 1983, when Herman Mashaba entered the black hair care market as a salesman for a local manufacturer. He rapidly became the company's most successful agent and realised that opportunities in the market were boundless.

Two years later he convinced two colleagues, a fellow salesman and a chemist, to join him in setting up an independent enterprise and Black Like Me was born. In 1997, Mashaba sold a controlling stake in the now successful Black Like Me to multinational giant Colgate-Palmolive. But the partnership did not yield the expected results and Mashaba, together with a consortium of other shareholders, approached the IDC in 1999 for funding to buy back Colgate-Palmolive's share.

That is when the business really took off and in 2002 the company formed a partnership with a distributor in the United Kingdom to boost its export drive. Needing capital for expansion of its production capacity, the IDC obliged again and in 2005 it played a role in bringing together Black Like Me and Amka Products, another successful South African black-owned consumer goods company.

The IDC is walking the talk in promoting economic growth and transformation and supporting black economic empowerment opportunities.