During the AHi Western Cape annual congress, which has just taken place in Velddrif, several important issues, such as recognition of the informal sector in each town and agriculture and tourism as economic catalysts, were discussed.
“There is still not enough research done by economists on unemployment and the informal sector,” Prof. Frederick Fourie, former head of economic sciences and rector of the Free State University, stated when he opened the congress presentations.
“Unemployment is just too bad. We can’t wait for economic growth as a solution. Economic growth is not necessarily inclusive and poor people do not share in the economy. Economically we are not growing labor-intensive either,” he said.
According to Fourie, millions of people make a meager existence in the informal sector – without any support. In the Western Cape, the informal sector accounts for 11% of job creation – thus a very important sector.
Cornie Swart, president of Agri Western Cape, addressed guests on agriculture as an economic catalyst. According to him, every farm today is an economic business unit. However, to succeed, we must create safe environments.
“Business and agriculture need to focus on an alliance and take hands to develop local economy sectors and create opportunities with municipalities,” he said.
Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA’s deputy executive director and event speaker during the AHi Gala evening, asked how a governing party is chasing investors on the one hand and asking for investor support on the other.
“We who live the ideals of the constitution should not let a minority hijack us. We who love the country with everything we have, whether we are white, black or brown, must go to the drawing board and draw up a plan to unite people in South Africa. We need to do something together to save our country,” he said.
According to van der Rheede, people are tired of a power play.
“We have to live up to the country’s constitution. Human dignity, freedom, non-racialism, and non-sexism must prevail.”
Institutions such as the AHi, AgriSA and the ATKV must play a critical role in ensuring that citizens in South Africa are aware of what is in our Constitution.
Entrepreneurs and role players were honored during the gala evening after nominations in the various divisions were received.
The AHi Entrepreneur of the Year is Marice Mercuur of Clanwilliam. Marice developed her own brand of Rooibos skincare products, Marice, and stormed the industry with this product. David Kairuz of Dave’s Kitchen in Stilbaai, is the AHi’s Beginner Entrepreneur of the Year.
The Klein Karoo Black Business Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in Oudtshoorn, was named the AHi’s Emerging Business Chamber of the Year and Richard Shumi, AHi’s board member, received this award on behalf of the business chamber. Stilbaai Business Chamber walked away with the prestigious award as Business Chamber of the Year.
Dr. AHi CEO Willie Cilliers said after the congress that it was a highlight for the year.
“Today’s talks have opened our eyes as business chambers. Prof. Federick Fourie highlighted the great value that is locked within the informal sector and actually challenged us as business chambers to prove what they can do.”