As the Chairman of the South African Chamber of Commerce, Sharon Constançon, is focussed to promote the bilateral trade and business relations between South Africa and the world. In this episode of his YouTube podcast, Dinis Guarda and Sharon discuss the various challenges that exist in the South African economy and the commerce’s strategies that empower the South African individuals and businesses to overcome the challenges that exist. The podcast is powered by citiesabc.com and openbusinesscouncil.org.
Sharon Constançon has extensive boardroom experience in governance and leadership, fostering meaningful relationships, and creating an impact in the society. Apart from her role as the Director of the South African Chamber of Commerce, Sharon is also actively involved in various roles, including being the Non-Executive Director for Transact SA, and an International Committee member for CISI, and the CEO of Valufin, a forex advisory firm.
Speaking from her wealth of experience across multiple industries and having worked in international scenarios for over two decades, Sharon highlighted the importance of building networks and relationships.
During the interview, she explained the role of the South African Chamber of Commerce in supporting the community not just in terms of promoting the activities and enterprises, but also to widen its perspective.
“We (The South African Chamber of Commerce) are important, we make South Africans be important to learn and be part of an international community”, she told Dinis.
The South African Chamber of Commerce: Representing businesses and individuals
The South African Chamber of Commerce, often referred to as SACCI (South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry), is a prominent and influential organization representing the business community in South Africa.
SACCI serves as a vital advocate and support system for businesses across various industries. Its primary mission is to create an enabling environment for business growth and development by engaging with government, policymakers, and other stakeholders to shape favorable economic policies and regulations.
Highlighting the chamber’s role in promoting entrepreneurship, facilitating trade and investment, and offering valuable resources, research, and networking opportunities to its members, Sharon told Dinis:
“The Chamber has created a network footprint of connecting South Africans in many ways. Our primary focus is to uplift the life of South Africans. We work with companies that wish to learn about the international market that are based in South Africa. We work with companies that are UK located and interested in doing business in South Africa.
We work with South Africans that are in the UK and want to be a part of the community, and also with individual South Africans who focus on working in international markets.”
She also highlighted that the Chamber is now an informal association of 8 South African Chambers that are outside of South Africa across the globe ranging from Japan to the US and in between, and they are growing their sphere of influence.
Sharon told Dinis that the patron member of the SACCI is Barclays International with several big players as the strategic partners, like Ned Bank, Anglo American, Standard Bank, and Investech Bank.
“The membership population is actually quite extensive, being able to find out what is going on in South Africa, how to do business, and how to trade.
These are the members that get engaged, host, and bring content. At the same time, we have a remit of what we need to do for them to earn their RoI for the fee that they have paid us for teh year”, she said.
How does SACCI empower South African communities and businesses?
By the end of June 2022, South Africa had 60.6 million inhabitants. OECD estimates about 2.6 million SMEs in South Africa, out of which more than 50% are informal or unregistered, and are mostly located in the rural areas.
During the interview, Sharon highlighted the key issues that have been challenging the South African economy to face a layered recession.
“The natural psyche of the people and government, past and present, is to control. That degree of control stifles businesses a lot. It equally has been the generator of creating a mid-range economy, a middle class, that never existed before”, she told Dinis.
The Chamber, she highlighted, has provided ample support for businesses, especially micro and small ones to bring them to the formal sector, getting them registered as companies, educating and creating awareness, and understanding the available opportunities and options.
“The innovation, resilience, and the agility that South Africans have to do work and earn income is phenomenal and these people can get jobs with global corporations.
Let’s empower the population to change the economic growth of the country, because that’s where the power is going to come from. And this is how the government will be forced to change and acknowledge that they can’t control absolutely anything. We’ve got to empower our people to be as a generation in another place to where their parents were”, she concluded on a positive note.