It is my pleasure to present this report to the membership of the George Business Chamber. The Chamber has enjoyed a very positive term resulting in increased visibility an enhanced community profile and services provided for the members. The organisation has successfully developed its internal capability, providing a strong foundation for continued growth so much so that the secretarial role within the Chamber has been expanded and become a full day function.
The Chamber welcomed 8 new members for 2013 during November of 2012 and 10 new members during February of this year.The growth of the Chamber continues to strengthen the Chamber’s voice in providing advocacy for the business community.
Regular interactions with key people has been, and continues to be, a fundamental necessity and is an ongoing process/activity. April of 2012 saw the George Business Chamber arranging a networking evening in Thembalethu with main sponsorship being provided by Algoa FM and supplemented by the George Business Chamber. A record number of 230 people attended this historical event. The first and certainly not the last of its kind. The intention was,and remains, an important strategy to create an environment where mutually beneficial co-operation between businesses in George, Thembalethu, Pacaltsdorp, Blanco and other areas in the Greater George Area can be encouraged.
The Garden Route Business Forum has focused on regional economic development and enjoys the attendance of representatives from a broad spectrum of key players. Together with the Provincial Economic Development Partnership (EDP) the regional collaboration have already resulted in significant benefit to the region.
There have been numerous Economic Development workshops, notably the PACA (Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantage) project which was launched by the George Municipality in February 2012. The George Business Chamber, as a stakeholder, participated in areas where it was pertinent to do so. One of the main findings was the need to provide businesses with affordable training interventions that could enhance business opportunities through improved customer service and sales techniques. This was co-incidentally the same outcome of the independent survey conducted by the Chamber where members expressed the identical needs that were revealed during the PACA process. To this end, a series of morning workshops were designed and the first Customer Care workshop was facilitated in September 2012. Mini courses are designed by accredited training facilitators and the content is designed according to the expressed needs of Business owners and the members of the George Business Chamber. Training interventions are scheduled for every month during 2013.
In August of 2012, the city of George welcomed a delegation of 15 people from Port Elizabeth. The delegation consisted of members and a few staff of the Nelson Mandela Business Chamber. The delegation was welcomed as guests of the Protea Hotel-King George who sponsored the accommodation for the duration of their stay.
Upon arrival, the members of the delegation were treated to a sumptuous dinner where they were introduced to The Executive Mayor of George, Charles Standers and some representatives of the council and businesses which were scheduled for site visits. The purpose for the Trade mission was to explore potential business and marketing opportunities across the region, and several actions have already flown out of this.
This initiative was made possible due to the support and generosity of George Herald, Protea Hotel-King George and Tours for South Africa. It is also pertinent to thank the businesses which “opened” their doors so that the visiting delegation could observe some of the business development in George.
There is a second in-bound Trade Mission scheduled to visit George in April this year. This delegation is from Cape Town and any company that would like to be considered as a possible candidate for a site visit should contact Ingrid at the offices of the George Business Chamber.
We have had talks with the consul General of India to South Africa, Dr Swati, and together with her we are planning an inbound trade delegation of Indian businesswoman to visit George in the coming year.
It has been a very busy year with many activities promoting the Chamber and serving the members. These activities included the following :
- The Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge.
- The Annual golf day at Kingswood Golf Estate where some of the funds raised were used to support a Christian movement that bought blankets for the needy. A total of 40 blankets were sponsored by supporters of the Golf day. Please support the 2013 Golf Day so that we can support another needy charity with part of the proceeds of the day. This year’s Golf Day is scheduled for 30th May 2013 at the Kingswood Golf Course. The invitation will follow soon.
- The Gala Dinner honouring the Business Person of the Year 2012 as well as Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 was the social highlight of the business year. The guest speaker was Minister Alan Winde whose message about the economy and our place in it was informative and somewhat sobering. The event was held at the Protea Hotel-King George and sponsored by the Headline Sponsor-Nedbank Business Bank and co sponsors Die Burger and Cape Consumers. Once again, the event was well attended and all available tickets were sold.
- The monthly networking evenings and “Morning Marketing” events proved again to be very popular and continue to be so.
- November 2012 saw the year-end Business breakfast which was sponsored by Airports Company South Africa and held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel-Oubaai. Members and guests were treated to a personal insight on the history, biodiversity & geographical changes within the Kruger National Park since it’s inception by Mitch Reardon, prolific writer of numerous books and articles for National Geographic.
- The upgrading and modernisation of our webpage is enjoying a lot of enthusiastic attention and is a work in progress. You will have all noticed that the newsletter is constantly “morphing” . Please let us know what content you would like to read. Similarly we are expanding our presence on Facebook and twitter, and will be using these mediums more and more in the coming year.
- The ongoing drive and need to be fully representative of all business in George initiated discussions between George Business Chamber and 15 key individuals representing other black business entities. To this end, a working breakfast was hosted by the George Business Chamber and sponsored by the Outeniqua Protea Hotel. The “workshop” elicited some interesting discussions and ideas which shall be explored as we move forward through 2013.
The 2012 – EXCO have contributed, through their committment, to achieving and exceeding set goals. My personal thanks to Dr Willie Cilliers, Brenda Moses, Koos du Plessis, Madeleine Goldie, Niel de Necker,Nadia Abrahamse,Carli Bunding-Venter, Ingrid cronje and Lesley Warner.
My thanks to a great team who worked to meet the demands of the Chamber and to you, the loyal and supportive members. We look forward to your continued support during 2013.
Outgoing President – Imel Rautenbach
George Business Chamber
12 March 2013.