Established in 1804, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the oldest member-based business organisation in Africa. It is mandated to serve, enable and lead business. This is achieved through a plethora of services, networking opportunities as well as robust advocacy on behalf of business.
Executive Director, Viola Manuel, is guiding the organisation into an exciting future where it will be taking a far more active role in promoting the cause of its more than 3 000 members.
Part of any business strategy requires a better understanding of the clients an organisation serves and the Chamber completed a membership segmentation survey to get a granular view of its membership.
The results of this survey show that the Chamber’s members are a fairly close representation of the Western Cape business in general.
Roughly two thirds of the Chamber members are made up of small, medium and micro enterprises. While just over half of the members have turnovers under R5 million per annum, a substantial 14 percent have annual turnovers of over R50 million per annum.
Although the Chamber is attracting start-up members, the majority (60 percent) of organisations have been operating for more than ten years, speaking to the sustainable nature of businesses in the region.
The Chamber can divide its products and services under three distinct functions:
The Cape Chamber of Commerce has always played a significant part in keeping its members informed of the latest issues which affect businesses both large and small. Speed networking events, information sessions, staff training and other events are well attended by both members and non-members. Landmark events such City meets Business and Business meets Cabinet allows Chamber members access to the executive of both the local and provincial governments.
The tougher than normal economic climate of the last few years has required a much more pragmatic view and the Chamber is finding new ways to practically reach out and help businesses drive efficiencies. Our International desk and business support department have been set up to drive new business deals, assist companies reach export potential and help members run their business more efficiently and within the bounds of national compliance regulations. Access to arbitration and mediation has been made available to business in the region and the rest of Africa through the African Commercial Dispute Settlement Centre, helping members and non-members avoid costly litigation wherever possible.
One of the key functions of the Cape Chamber is advocacy. Lobbying on behalf of its members is gaining traction and the Chamber is now represented at the highest national levels, taking part in bargaining and negotiations at the National Economic and Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and many other local and provincial bodies. The Chamber is also working with its active membership to create leadership bodies in various key sectors. The Chamber portfolio committees have been set up to reflect those at national Parliament and through these, the committee chairs comment on policy, legislation and regulatory issues which may impact businesses in various verticals.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce is ever mindful of the fact that it while it is important to provide information and practical measures to help its members better run their businesses, creating deal flow is also critical. For this reason, the leadership has also developed an aggressive pan-African policy which will see it connecting and collaborating with other African chambers, governments and agencies to facilitate expansion into the continent for its members.