Summer Drinks

Last Wednesday evening, 150 (mostly) South Africans gathered atop the rooftop terrace of Millennium Bridge House in the City of London to mingle, share a few drinks, and enjoy the view over The Thames and the iconic Millennium Bridge.

The South African Chamber of Commerce Summer Drinks took place a little later than usual this year, but the August weather was kind to us and not a single raindrop was seen. The venue, made available by Quilters plc, in any case offered a degree of shelter being partly indoors, although other than hosting the bar and snacks area, and a few seated groups engaged in quieter conversation, most chose to mingle on the rooftop terrace where they were able to enjoy some evening sunshine and a light summer breeze.

Many of the attendees knew each other, some with friendships dating back over many years, but the smattering of new faces were welcomed with equal alacrity. Friendships were renewed, quite probably some deals were discussed, but mostly the conversations were about the common bonds that all share for our beloved country, as well as catching up on each other’s latest news.

Despite the promise of no formal presentations, by popular demand Chamber Chairman Sharon Constançon did take three minutes to welcome everyone and share a few words about how the Chamber is growing and flourishing and what new initiatives are on the near horizon.

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Johannesburg Cocktail Party

The SACC hosted a well-attended cocktail party in Johannesburg on Monday evening.

Guests were drawn from the Chairman, Sharon Constançon’s network of contacts, including the British Chamber of Business in South Africa, the UK High Commission in South Africa, the DIT, DTI, from her membership of the International Committee of CISI, and her own business Valufin, a currency advisory firm trading in South Africa as Constançon Currencies.

Three addresses were made, from the UK’s High Commissioner to South Africa, HE Mr Nigel Casey, the Chair of British Chamber, Mel Brooks and the Chairman of the South African Chamber of Commerce (UK), Sharon Constançon.

Mel Brooks, Sharon Constançon and HE Nigel Casey

Attendees represented a wide range of companies, including ABSA and Hogan Lovells, SACC platinum member and strategic partner respectively, plus representatives of accounting firms, banks, lawyers, international business, as well as some of this year’s SACC Award winners, CISI, TIKZN, Deputy Chairman and former CEO of Standard Bank and now also an Investment Envoy for Cyril Ramaphosa, Jacko Maree, Valufin / Constançon Currencies Associates and local Valufin team members, and many more. This gave attendees exposure to a very different network of people compared to the usual focused networks.

HE Nigel Casey shared his views on Brexit, the election of the new Prime Minister, and trade relations between SA and the UK in the future.

Mel covered the value that Britcham brings to trade between our two countries, and Sharon talked about the growth of the SACC, its new Commerce Centre, and invited attendees to attend UK and SA events to assess the value of membership. Sharon said that the two Chambers are working closely with one another, and announced the first shared member of the Chambers.

Sharon also covered the importance of forex management for international trading companies and explained that, managed effectively, companies can secure a direct bottom line net benefit of in excess of 2.5% of the forex trade value.

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Business and Community Awards 2019

Story as it appeared in The South African, 24th May 2019.

Last Wednesday, amidst the glamour of the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, 170 South Africans and friends came together to celebrate the best in talent, achievement and giving, at the 7th South African Chamber of Commerce Annual Business and Community Awards.

This was a record year for nominations, with over 140 being received from the public, and the calibre of finalists reported to be the highest the Chamber had ever seen.

It was humbling to read their portfolios, every one of them was a winner”, said Chamber Chairman, Sharon Constançon.

Sharon Constançon, Richard Swart, Tembi Tambo

The Master of Ceremonies for the night was Lali Dangazele, an accomplished actress and former star of South African soap, Rhythm City, now turned entrepreneur after founding “ShakeXperience”, which introduces school students to acting. Lali, who has been in the UK for the past few years studying for a PhD in Business at the University of Warwick, showcased a stunning range of outfits throughout the evening, designed by Sibu Kulaw of Urban Zulu.

Lali Dangazele

The South African High Commissioner, HE Tembi Tambo, gave a brief welcome address, saying that now the elections are over we can relax, but that “we can’t be business as usual this time, we’ve got to up our game and communities outside of South Africa such as yourselves are such an incredibly important part of that journey.” Urging that “we have to rapidly rebuild the economy” she encouraged South Africans with businesses abroad to invest back into South Africa.

The Keynote Speaker for the evening was Trevor Manuel who, due to the National Elections requiring him to remain at home, recorded a 20-minute video interview with Sharon Constançon the day prior to the Awards, which was shown on the night. During the interview he went into considerable depth about education, economic focus, cabinet challenges, land reform and corruption, all key issues concerning South Africans at home at abroad. The video is now available on the Chamber’s website.

There was a wide range of finalists selected for this year’s Awards, including; a twelve-year-old boy, Dali Ed Mkoyana; Wendy Applebaum, the daughter of Sir Donald Gordan, the founder of Liberty International; John Gilbert of the Racing Centre; Babette Brown who was nominated posthumously for her charity work; Lewis Pugh, the record breaking South African swimmer and Jason Goodall, CEO of Dimension Data – in addition to another 33 well deserving finalists, including some like David White of BusinessFit and Valdene Reddy from the JSE who travelled from South Africa especially to attend the ceremony.

However, seeking to make the Awards and the Chamber itself more fully representative of the demographics of modern South Africa, Sharon emphasised, “We’re here to represent and promote all South Africans in business, our door is open and we’re reaching out to all sections of our community in the UK to become fully engaged with the Chamber.

The Awards, sponsors and winners were as follows:

South African Community Support Award, sponsored by Sapro
Won by Ilana Friedman, CEO of Magical Moments, an NPO that aims to make special memories for children by giving them special days out and parties.

Rising Star of the Year Award, sponsored by Magic Moments
Won by Byron McNally, a South African born BAFTA nominated Producer based in London working across commercial, digital content and drama.

Micro Business Award, sponsored by BusinessFit
Won by Catherine Farrant, founder of Ossa Organic, a food brand specialising in gut healing and restorative foods.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by Anglo American
Won by Samantha Collen, owner and Marketing Director at JenniDezigns Clothing which specialises in children’s clothing using traditional African designs.

Innovator of the Year Award, sponsored by Genius Boards
Won by Ludre Stevens, the founder and Chief Product Officer of INBOTiQA, an innovative email management system for businesses.

SA – UK Trade Award, sponsored by the UK Department of International Trade
Won by Rob Cannavo, former South African Trade Diplomat for the DTI, now running a series of industry specific seminars with the South African High Commission and the SA Chamber of Commerce.

Lifetime Giving Back Award, sponsored by Maitland
Won by Kathi Scott, Executive Director of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund UK who has raised millions of Rand to benefit children in South Africa over the last 23 years.

Business Woman of the Year Award, sponsored by Freshfields
Won by Penny Streeter OBE, who went from living in a homeless refuge with three children to found businesses the A24 Group and the Benguela Collection, today valued at £75 million.

Business Leader of the Year Award, sponsored by Valufin
Won by Wendy Applebaum, trustee of The Tribune Trust, director of Victory Strategic Services, chair of De Morgenzon Estate, and director of Sphere Holdings.

Playing Your Part Award, sponsored by Brand SA
Won by Tashmia Ismail, CEO of the Youth Employment Service (YES), which aims to create 1 million work experiences for young people in South Africa.

Chairman’s Award, a special award at the discretion of the judging committee and Chairman
Won by Babette Brown, founder of Persona Dolls, a charity which uses ethnically diverse dolls made in South Africa to help create empathy and combat racism in schools. Chairman’s recognition went to Dali, as the youngest entrant, and Commendations to Valdene Reddy as a leading businesswoman and Duduzile Sokhela for a lifetime of giving back.

More details on all the finalists can be found on the Chamber’s website.

Over the next year the Chamber is committed to engaging with all the finalists, winners and sponsors to provide an engagement and mentoring programme to help bring value to each of them and their sponsors, including offering them access to the Leadership program run by the Chamber annually.

Sharon concluded by saying, “I was very moved by the emotion expressed to me by a number of the finalists. It’s important to be reminded how significant these Awards are to the people who receive them, and to know that not only are the Annual Awards a good night out and a good opportunity to network, they help to inspire, revitalise and enthuse key members of our community who day in, day out, work so hard to bring about a better future for our country.

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Post Mining Indaba Seminar

Fortuitously, the SA Chambers’ second event in the Business Seminar Series, the Post Mining Indaba Seminar, held in association with ABSA and the South African High Commission, was preceded by a major press announcement less than 48 hours before the event was due to take place.

The announcement that Rio Tinto had signed off on a near $500m investment in its South African mineral sands business, providing a much-needed boost to the country’s mining industry, was truly great news for all attendees and speakers.

South Africa has a long involvement in the mining industry, and the Mining Indaba, the annual event held in Cape Town in February has become a miners’ pilgrimage. This seminar was our attempt to bring an update to a London audience who may have missed out on going to Cape Town. Participants on the day were made up of analysts, private equity groups, and mining companies active on the continent. 

ABSA gave a concise economic and minerals overview, which was followed by Sello Helepi (inset) of the Department of Mineral Resources who gave an update on some of the challenges being faced and some which have been overcome, as well as an insight into the upcoming changes expected post elections on the 8th May.

The panel discussion which followed, with Neil Hume, the Financial Times’ Natural Resources Editor, moderating, was extremely insightful. Many different facets of the mining industry were explored, including how the industry is responding to environmental concerns from the public and how often these are now shared by potential investors. Also, chamges in how the industry interacts with and includes local communities in the planning and decision making processes were explored.  

Pannelists: Jeff Gable , Shirley Webber, Sello Helepi, Adonis Pouroulis, Neil Hume (FT)

The feedback from the attendees has been extremely positive, and overall the mining and extractive industry globally is seeing an upturn in interest. The new mantra which is key to sustainable mining, of prioritizing people, planet and profit is now also adopted by South African mining groups.

The South African Chamber of Commerce will continue to showcase relevant sectors with real opportunities, bringing the voice of Government, finance institutions and private sector on one stage.

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Leadership Skills Workshop in a Changing World

Leadership means different things to different people. Being a leader is a unique experience for those in roles either as managers, business owners or specialists in their field of expertise.  But what we do know for certain, is that the more we learn about ourselves, the better leaders we can be.

On the 22nd January, a remarkable group of leaders, representing a range of industries from banking to tourism, finance to administration and retail, gathered in the Innovation Lab at the Commonwealth Bank Of Australia, on Ludgate Hill in the City of London.  The location is apt. The name of Ludgate Hill itself, comes from Old English – the opening of a gate.  One of the most important traits of a leader is to open gates for others to reach their true potential.

For centuries Ludgate Hill has been instrumental in leadership in the City.  St Pauls’ dramatically positioned at the top of the hill as the religious leader of not only the City, but also the country.  During the Blitz, St Paul’s role as a symbol of strength and survival, helped inspire those across the United Kingdom to show leadership.  Queen Anne looks down on Ludgate Hill. Under her leadership the Acts of Union brought together the kingdoms of England and Scotland, uniting them as a single sovereign state. Some of London’s most famous Coffee Houses on Ludgate Hill, were frequented by leaders such as Benjamin Franklin, political theorist Jason Priestly and the great William Shakespeare.

What makes a good leader?

According to Eva Eldridge, a psychologist with 20 years’ experience in neuroscience and clinical psychology, a great business leader knows themselves. Eva believes that understanding human emotions, and individual differences and drivers, leads to a deeper self-awareness.  This comes together to help leaders be empathetic and authentic.

In the first workshop led by Eva, we looked at:

  • Personality (self-awareness) in areas such as recruitment
  • Self- Motivation and how to motivate others in the workplace
  • Emotions – the drivers of behaviours and appropriate thought processes as well as Mindfulness and how to manage these emotions in the workplace

We are all working and leading in rapidly changing environments. The more we can know and understand ourselves, the more equipped we will be to manage this change.

The next workshop is on Wednesday 27th February.

In this session Eva will work through:

  • Models of sustained Behavioural Change
  • Decision Making
  • Power
  • Bad habits that hold good people back

According to Kluckhohn & Murray: “Every person is in certain respects like all other people, like some other people, and like no other person.”

Join us to explore yourself and who you are that is like others, like only some other people and like no other person on earth.

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Board Breakfast with Economic Cluster Ministers

On Tuesday 28 October the Chamber was pleased to introduce Board members to a senior delegation from the South African Government comprising three senior economic cluster ministers.
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene met with senior figures in the South African business community to discuss the National Development Plan and the South African investment climate.

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Chamber Connects October 2014

October’s CC event saw Carolyn Andrew and Richard Palmer, both Directors at Quirk, discuss digital marketing in Africa and gateways into the fastest growing market in the world. Photos courtesy Ronel van Zyl.

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October Indaba

Liz Lugt, founding member of Blue Acorns, addressed October’s Breakfast Indaba and offered advice on how to build a healthy and sustainable business.

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Chamber Connects September 2014

September’s Chamber Connects event saw Caroline Kennair and Deepinder Lamba of Deloitte discuss the latest human capital report findings for South Africa. Photos by Ronel van Zyl.

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Breakfast Indaba September 2014

Former Business Leader of the Year Mark Jankovich addressed guests at September’s Indaba and provided bespoke advice on all things entrepreneurship. Photos courtesy Ronel van Zyl

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