Chamber to attract new members

2014-04-29 00:00

THE Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s membership fell slightly in the past year, said DCCI president Akash Singh.

He spoke at the DCCI’s 158th annual gala dinner that was held in the Durban International Conference Centre late last week.

The event is an annual social highlight on the Durban calendar.

Singh said the decline of 20-30 members out of more than 2 700 members did not represent a big percentage decline, but it was nonetheless something the DCCI intended to address in the coming year.

Chief executive officer Andrew Layman said most of the Chamber’s members were small businesses, and most of the decline was due to small companies that had either closed, merged or had reached the end of the year unable to pay their annual membership fees.

“It is not an easy time for voluntary organisations such as the Chamber … the weak economy is part of it,” said Layman.

He said the Chamber had a range of initiatives to attract more members this year, apart from its normal role of representing the interests of business in various forums.

This included, for instance, the launch of a business magazine in the second quarter, refining its daily communication methods and becoming more active on social media.

Singh said the Chamber had completed a busy year and it was in a relatively good shape financially.

Apart from the regular monthly meetings of the Chamber’s 14 committees dealing with a range of issues from the port to tourism, which Singh described as “the heart” of the Chamber’s activities, there was also the relocation of the Chamber’s offices to the Lion Match office from its previous location opposite the International Conference Centre.

The Chamber had developed an “economic development blueprint” outlining what the business sector would want in term of government policies. Numerous advocacy initiatives and events were also undertaken during the year. He said the DCCI intended to develop social capital partnerships between non-government organisations and businesses.

Guest speaker at the dinner was Unilever chief executive officer Peter Cowan. He said that the multi-national fast moving consumer goods group has set high targets to address economic development, community and staff empowerment and to lessen the environmental impact of the group.

Cowan said the group’s new dry foods factory opened in Durban in 2012 had reduced energy and water consumption by making less waste.

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