The business interest organisation AfriBusiness announced its strategic priorities for an independent business community. The announcement formed part of AfriBusiness’s conference “Prospects for state-proofing business – how firms can succeed governments fail” that was held in Pretoria on 5 June.
The conference was held in the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria and attended by about 300 business people, chambers of commerce representatives, academics, lawyers and community leaders. Piet le Roux, CEO of AfriBusiness, says that the conference was a huge success. “We know that, traditionally, it is the state’s role to establish a stable business environment. However, we also know that, in South Africa,government doesn’t always succeed in this. The economy is, however, too important to leave to politicians. We therefore invited some of the best local and international experts to talk about what business people can do themselves to create a favourable business environment.”
AfriBusiness believes that it is in the whole country’s interest that business people take responsibility to create a favourable business environment themselves if the government fails to do so. “The state’s failure at this does not mean there is nothing that business people or the public should do. A favourable business environment is indispensable to the production required for a prosperous and peaceful society. To create a favourable business environment themselves will be in business people’s personal interest as well as that of the general economy – in fact, it is in the interest of constitutional order itself.”
“To accept responsibility is the right thing to do,” Le Roux says. “It might of course be that politics in South Africa improve drastically in future and that the state and state institutions perform their roles better. On the other hand, the reality is that the state is currently deteriorating across many dimensions. Prudent risk management requires that business people do not blindly put their trust in politicians, but that they in the meantime also put in place institutional alternatives for in case the state weakens further.”
An independent business community
AfriBusiness also launched its strategy for an independent business community at the conference.
An independent business community is a community of business people with the following three characteristics:
- They are state-proof: Their businesses are as resilient as possible against political risks such as expropriation, compulsory stock sales and other forms of harmful state interference.
- They have bargaining power: To negotiate as a collective with government for a fair relationship and to contribute to a favourable business environment.
- They have institutional alternatives: To create an alternative business environment through self-regulation and private infrastructure, and in which economic activities by its members and anyone else can be continued if the environment created by the state falls short.
AfriBusiness’s strategic priorities
AfriBusiness plans on realising its vision for an independent business community through the following three strategic priorities:
- Business chamber strategy: AfriBusiness will concentrate on establishing an extended network of business chambers and industry affiliations to liaise with government with the greatest possible bargaining power to promote a favourable business environment.
- Institutional strategy: AfriBusiness will develop a business code by which its members will be known and which will lay a basis for greater cooperation and commercial relations. AfriBusiness will endeavour to establish access for small and medium enterprises to alternative commercial dispute resolution, such as private mediation and arbitration.
- Member support strategy: AfriBusiness will assist its members with advice and legal action to make their businesses and business environments resistant to adverse state interference and other political risks.
Le Roux says there are naturally other elements to AfriBusiness’s strategy, but that these three priorities will receive attention first.
About the conference
Subjects and speakers included:
- Why you should state-proof your business – Dr Frans Cronje, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations;
- The benefits of competition between states – Prof. Philipp Bagus, Professor in Economics at the Rey Juan Carlos University in Spain and recipient of the 2016 Ludwig Erhard Price;
- Not state-proof: Lessons from Zimbabwe – Russell Lamberti, founder of ETM Macro Strategists; co-author of When money destroys nations – How hyperinflation ruined Zimbabwe;
- AfriBusiness’s vision for an independent business community – Piet le Roux, CEO of AfriBusiness;
- State-proofing money – Dawie Roodt, Chief Economist of the Efficient Group;
- State-proofing identity and reputation – Schalk Dormehl, co-founder of Octobase and blockchain expert;
- State-proofing dispute resolution – John Brand, specialist in alternative dispute resolution;
- State-proofing electricity – Prof. Willie Cronje, Alstom Chair in Clean Energy System Technology at the University of the Witwatersrand; and
- State-proofing corporative structures – Jacques Classen, a lawyer specialising in property rights.
AfriBusiness is a business interest organisation with more than 12 000 members country wide. The organisation was founded in 2011. AfriBusiness exists to bargain for and create a constitutional order, free markets, property rights, economic prosperity and a favourable business environment in the interests of its members, as well as in the public interest wherever members do business.
AfriBusiness gives expression to this mission through:
- Free market leadership to promote a constitutional order, free markets and property rights, including public policy input, participation in the public debate and legal action on local, national and international level;
- The promotion of independent business communities, with institutional infrastructure to allow its members and their customers, clients and partners to do business regardless of economic and political environmental factors;
- Individual member support, which entails assistance with labour law, training and general legal advice given to members from time to time; and
- Charity, in terms of which members’ generous contributions are channelled to deserving matters such as education and other community needs.