Apart from Jakkalsvlei Private Wine Cellar setting a fresh new scene for the Mossel Bay Business Chamber gala event, where local business owners received accolades for excellence last Friday, 21 September, keynote speaker Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, provided inspiring food for thought.
Harris, a former Democratic Alliance member of the National Assembly, and a Parliamentary Counsellor to DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, opened the floor with a few tongue in cheek references to Mossel Bay as the "cradle of human culture" and the "home of social media".
"The first hashtag originated from a cave in Mossel Bay," Harris said in reference to the "Point of Human Origin" caves at Pinnacle Point, much to the audience's amusement.
Harris, whose roots lie in the Southern Cape, sighed and said it was "good to be home", especially since he arrived back from Southern China on a Wesgro investment mission only 48 hours prior to the gala event.
Harris explained that Wesgro is an investment and tourism creation agency that serves the provincial government and local municipalities. The agency undertakes around 100 missions annually to promote the Western Cape abroad in order to stimulate the economy.
In reference to the South African context, Harris said that despite feelings of positivity, there is always a curved ball but despite this, the country has several strengths counting in its favour.
Harris, who has travelled to 35 of the 54 African countries, listed South Africa's extraordinary infrastructure in comparison to the rest of the African continent; it's institution and the free press; as well as the strength of South African business, small, medium and large, which he believes is a great credit.
Angola, according to Harris, is the single biggest market for products from the Western Cape in Africa. He believes that exports from the agricultural hub will further power economic growth. Harris also said the reason unemployment is 10% lower than in other provinces, is the stimulation of tourism in the province. Indications are that most new companies formed are emerging in the Western Cape and it is becoming popular as a hub for business processing outsourcing, such as call centres.
Looking for lifestyle
Harris likened the Western Cape to what is happening in San Francisco, where the trend is seen that some of the world's biggest companies are based there. This, he explains, is because tycoons too are seeking an extraordinary lifestyle in beautiful places, as the Western Cape offers to many families relocating from, for instance Gauteng.
The Western Cape also offers strong universities, to which, as Harris explains, "the brightest kids on the continent are flocking". Western Cape universities therefore are linked to around 10 000 talented students from all over Africa studying here.
Harris waxed lyrical on the ample and beautiful space available in and around Mossel Bay and said that although the domestic market is well developed in terms of seasonal tourism, the biggest European tourism markets, the United Kingdom, Germany and Netherlands can provide a valuable all-year income. He also mentioned the need to properly unlock the potential of the local harbour "It makes me optimistic about South Africa to see the economic growth path in the Western Cape and accentuates the need to replicate what the Western Cape is doing throughout the rest of the country," Harris concluded.
According to Mossel Bay Business Chamber chairman Paul Kruger, the number of entries for awards this year, was a good sign. He said that nominations were well put together adding to strong competition in each category. In each category, a runnerup award was given this year.
The runners-up and winners are as follows:
• Small business category:
Runner up: co-Mind (a collaborative office space provider)
Winner: HaasDas Electronics
• Medium-sized business category: Runner-up: F&A Airconditioning Winner: Rauch Gertenbach Attorneys (Danie Acker)
• Large business category:
Runner-up: Albertinia Meubelvervoer (Vanie Oosthuizen)
Winner: Jakkalsvlei Private Wine Cellar (Jantjie Jonker)
• Business Person of the Year:
Runner up: Vanie Oosthuizen (Albertinia Meubelvervoer)
Winner: Shirley Schmidt (Afrishore Shipping, Lifting & Rigging; Ocean Hide)
According to Kruger, it was the first time known, that the same business was named runner-up in two categories.
Nominees in the small, medium-sized and large business of the year categories. INSET: Wesgro CEO Tim Harris waxed lyrical on the beauty of Mossel Bay and surrounds.
Jantjie Jonker from Jakkalsvlei Private Wine Cellar (winner large business), Shirley Schmidt, CEO of Afrishore (Business Person of the Year), Alderman Harry Levendal (executive mayor of Mossel Bay), Danie Acker from Rauch Gertenbach Attorneys (winner medium-sized business), Marius Wait and John Smit from HaasDas (winner, small business of the year).
The nominees for Business Person of the Year.