arcci spreads its wings

AFTER almost a decade in the shadows, the African Renaissance Chamber of Commerce and Industry now wants to go big.

The ARCCI, which was established to address the rebirth of Africa's economy, was founded by Sozizwe Mjali in 1999.

It began in the Eastern Cape to close the gaps left by other prominent chambers of business, among other plans.

Although the ARCCI has more than 10000 members in the country, little is known about this business organisation. It all started when Mjali, 37, was helping people to fill in forms at a bank. He realised that most of the applicants did not know about company registrations, ownership types and market analysis.

These people were queueing to receive start-up capital for their small businesses. Together with his friend Khonzinkosi Kwetana, who was working as a business consultant in the Eastern Cape, they decided to do something.

"We realised that although the business chambers were active at the time, they did not address the needs of entrepreneurs."

Mjali and his team identified key crucial aspects of small businesses which needed attention:

l Information dissemination;

l Mobilising of entrepreneurs to save rather than be financially dependent on banks; and

l Investment facilitation.

"In 2007 we had an organisational introspection and realised that we needed a turnaround strategy for ARCCI to stamp its authority in the country," Mjali said.

The introspection resulted in a long-term strategy, which was divided into three phases.

"The first phase is system development and implementation, which includes marketing and media liaison. This process was scheduled for 2008/2009.

"For 2009/2010, we started integrating our organisation's system with the country's economic framework by forming partnerships with government agencies and departments to achieve our objectives. In 2010, we aim to penetrate the entire SADC, and by 2011 we hope to spread our wings to the whole of Africa."