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Cape Chamber and AHI’s breakthrough in business unity will tackle some of the biggest obstacles to business growth

This month we are thrilled to report a major breakthrough in business unity in the Western Cape following a series of discussions between the Cape Chamber and the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI), two of the Province’s most influential business organisations.

Discussions between ourselves and the AHI should add significant momentum to our efforts to tackle some of the biggest obstacles to business growth. This collaboration also expands our Network of Networks launched last year, a coalition of business and sector associations seeking to influence public policy impacting our business environment.

A Cape Chamber delegation led by myself and Chamber President Jacques Moolman recently met with AHI representatives to discuss areas of mutual interest. It was the second round of discussions, and a follow-up meeting will take place in early July. To date the discussions have centred upon the need for collective action in overcoming obstacles such as the current energy crisis and unemployment.

The AHI delegation was led by Dr Willie Cilliers, a private sector stalwart who is also provincial chairman of the George Business Chamber. Our discussions centred around the obvious synergies in pooling our resources in confronting the issues of the day. The AHI has chapters right across the country, including rural areas which often lack civil society representation. We are excited at the prospect of working with new partners and learning from their experience.

Speaking after last week’s meeting Cilliers said the renewed dialogue was building trust between the two organisations, thereby providing a springboard for meaningful action. “The outcome was very positive,” Cilliers said. “We must build a strong organisation, not necessarily to become one organisation, but put our energy together to promote business, to make sure there are opportunities everyone,” he said.

Cilliers identified energy as one ‘disaster’ area that required urgent attention and was “by far the biggest issue in the Western Cape.” He also highlighted the need for skills training of school leavers, to try and reduce the problem of youth unemployment. High inflation and spiralling interest rates were further areas of concern.  Said Cilliers: “There is a list of problems and we need to seek solutions to these problems, and business organisations must do that.  It is time that the AHI and Cape Chamber work closely together for positive economic outcomes.”

“We are grateful for the opportunities from Jacques and John. The understanding is now there of what we want to do. I think the way is open now that we can work positively going forward.”   

As the Cape Chamber we concur with Dr Cilliers about the benefits of future cooperation. We are convinced that expanding our network will help us fulfil our mandate of representing the interests of not only the business community but of society in general. A growing economy is essential if the country is to move forward and overcome present challenges.

John Lawson
CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry


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