A major milestone was achieved yesterday when the South Africa Chamber of Commerce UK launched its first South African based Chapter in Durban. The online launch of the KZN Chapter, which took place early on Tuesday, was well attended with interested participants joining from several continents around the world. 

The panel was on fire, with key messages delivered eloquently and passionately by keynote speaker Kuseni Dlamini, the KZN born entrepreneur who chairs Aspen Pharmaceuticals.  Founded in a 4-bedroom house in Durban, this global enterprise today supplies pharmaceutical products to 157 countries. Kuseni is also Chairman of Massmart and is a member of the Chamber’s Advisory Board. 

Also speaking at the launch were Moses Tembe, Chairman of the KZN Growth Coalition, former President of the Durban Chamber and a Board Director of the SA Chamber in the UK, and Palesa Phili, CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

They were supported by Veloshnee Kasavan of Standard Bank in KZN; Mxolisi Miya, a serial KZN businessman; David White, CEO of DRG in KZN; and John Mulder, a South African born businessman now living in Ireland, and Chairman of the Chamber’s Ireland Chapter. Mxolisi, David and John also serve on the SA Chamber UK’s Executive Committee.

Sharon Constançon, Chairman of the SA Chamber UK facilitated the meeting with her usual efficiency and grace, giving all eight speakers an opportunity to share their passion and ideas about how international trade and investment can be beneficial to the KZN economy.

In an interview on SABC News later last evening, Sharon discussed the launch of the KZN Chapter and the SA Chamber UK’s trade insights with news anchor, Peter Ndoro.

Watch the clip below:

During his keynote address, Kuseni Dlamini spoke frankly about the work needed to help grow the KZN and South African economies and emphasised the need to create an ecosystem which supports entrepreneurs and business leaders to access new opportunities. He mentioned several KZN based companies, such as CCI and Illovo Sugar who, like Aspen Pharma, have grown from small local businesses to now trade successfully in global markets as examples of what can be achieved. Conversely, to illustrate the benefits of inward investment, he gave the example of Rio Tinto, a foreign company which has invested heavily in northern KZN, which has now become one of the province’s highest taxpayers.

with care, development and opportunity, it is possible for South Africans to trade throughout the world

Kuseni’s passionate message, drawn from his deep understanding of business, illustrated that with care, development and opportunity, it is possible for South Africans to trade throughout the world. He expressed his hope that businesses take advantage of the support available through international business networks, which are particularly strong in the UK, a long-standing trading partner of South Africa.

CEO of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Palesa Phili, spoke about the successes in the world of international trade that they are currently delivering.  The new SA Chamber UK affiliation with the Durban Chamber will, she said, complement the affiliation they have with the German government to deliver international opportunities for SMMEs and larger KZN businesses.

Moses Tembe enthused about Public-Private Partnerships, explaining how the Growth Coalition benefits from a close relationship with the provincial government, as it is co-chaired by the sitting Premier.  He outlined how they’re working in the KZN ports, amongst other initiatives, to stimulate growth.

established corridors between South Africa and the United Kingdom make trade easily feasible

David White suggested that the already established corridors between South Africa and the United Kingdom make trade easily feasible, especially now that Brexit has created new opportunities. He urged local businesses to take advantage of existing support and infrastructure, including the skills and experience of the SA Chamber UK, and promised to continue to develop and expand its offering in South Africa.

Mxolisi Miya, the leader of the new KZN Chapter, emphasised his passion for initiatives to help grow the KZN economy to benefit communities directly. He spoke enthusiastically about generating inward investment, and urged local businesses to broaden their horizons towards accessing foreign markets, particularly in the UK.

John Mulder, the Ireland Chapter Leader spoke encouragingly of opportunities for South African businesses to trade with Ireland, especially considering that Ireland remains the last English-speaking country within the EU. The diverse range of businesses within the Chapter, he said, are able to offer a wide range of support and advice to anyone looking to expand into that market.

Veloshnee Kasavan, of Standard Bank, which is a long-standing Platinum member of the SA Chamber UK, was extremely positive about the launch, saying that she and Standard Bank are excited to see this initiative coming together and that Standard Bank is glad to support any future trade activities which develop from it. 

A great beginning for the KZN Chapter and their hard-working team came shortly after the launch, when Standard Bank confirmed they will become a member of the KZN Chapter.

In the hours after the launch, many participants expressed their appreciation that SA has international friends and networks willing to help develop new trade opportunities, and local Chambers and business networks willing to help them access those resources.

In case you missed it, or if you would simply like to share the typically South African energy and enthusiasm you experienced during the launch with others, the replay can be watched and shared below:

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