George Business News And Video – The AHi Western Cape head-office and its 24 hour call centre was officially opened at the Red River Centre, Arbour Road, on Friday 18 May.
Christo van der Rheede, deputy executive director of Agri SA and a director of the AHi, cut the ribbon.
Already on its opening morning, the call centre was inundated by calls after its number was announced on a morning talk show on the RSG radio station.
AHi MD Dr Willie Cilliers said their focus is all encompassing. They not only want to provide information and networking opportunities to businesses, but also help them grow and develop so that the local economy can expand and jobs can be created.
The AHi will also initiate studies and surveys so that progress can be measured. The head-office houses research, coaching and training departments as well as the marketing and communication department. Cilliers was excited about the call centre. “The AHi is ready to make a difference in the Western Cape. We as the AHi should listen to the voice of entrepreneurs.
We cannot just be the voice. The call centre will help us do that,” he said.”We will also lobby with government on all levels because their responsibility is to create a business-friendly environment and support entrepreneurial programmes.”
ONLINE ONLY: He said the AHi is an inclusive organisation and he invited entrepreneurs, even the smallest one-man business, to join. Members have access to information on literally every aspect of running a business. An advisory and research panel, business coaches and advisors panel, training facilitators panel, and a business development services panel have been established to provide expert support.
These services are to be within reach of entrepreneurs everywhere, even in the small towns, through their local chambers. The province has been divided into five districts. In each district, the different chambers are under the guidance of a district manager. Thembalethu Chamber President Richard Shumi is the manager for the Garden Route Karoo region which currently has 13 business chambers. Two more chambers in this district are soon to be launched in Pacaltsdorp and Knysna.
Cilliers said the AHi will keep its members up to date on a daily basis through newsletters and a network of websites.
After the opening, a new contract was signed with the Belgium-based non-governmental organisation, Trias, that has been sponsoring entrepreneur training programmes through the George Business Chamber for a number of years. This year, the Trias agreement is with the AHi and it involves an R1,6-million donation. Cilliers expressed the hope that cooperation with Trias will continue beyond 2018.
The occasion was attended by the AHi’s five directors, presidents from various chambers in the Garden Route and Little Karoo as well as Eden Mayor Memory Booysen.
The monthly membership fee of the AHi is R70. Chamber members receive a 25% discount.