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Herman Breedt - JCCI President's Q & A

In this edition of Business Focus we have the privilege of showcasing our recent conversation with Herman Breedt, the new president of Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce (JCCI).

In the interview that follows he talks about his priorities, his focus and what he intends to achieve following his appointment.

Business Focus: As you begin your tenure as president of Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), please identify what you regard as your top priorities for your office going forward?

Herman Breedt: The top priorities for my role are manifold but there is a particular focus on the finances of JCCI, recruitment of new members, retention of membership, succession planning of JCCI staff and fostering global connectivity and linkages.

Business Focus: As the voice of business in key sectors in the South African economy, what do you think makes JCCI the best platform for articulating all that concerns business in South Africa?

Herman Breedt: The composition of membership at JCCI ranges over a broad spectrum of large corporate
companies to small emerging companies. JCCI represents all these companies as a voice from business to government and on all international platforms.

Business Focus: What do you think has prepared you for the role of president of JCCI?

Herman Breedt: I have served for years in the structures of JCCI as board and council member, as well as vice president for 2015-2017.

Business Focus: We have seen both your predecessors, Fay Mukaddam and Ernest Mahlaule, being more visible in engaging on government policy and governance issues, do you expect to also lead from the front?

Herman Breedt: Yes definitely.

Business Focus: How do you plan to manage the relationship between business and government in light of the persistent concerns about the trust deficit between the two sides?

Herman Breedt: The same way Ernest and myself dealt with it over the past two years. Getting close to Government officials and being more transparent.

Business Focus: Briefly outline what you consider to be key opportunities for business in the current macro-economic environment.

Herman Breedt: It is of vital importance that all companies engage in exporting their products. The local market is stagnant - in order to survive and expand companies must embark on creating an export strategy for their products in the international market.

JCCI offers support to companies at all levels to enter the international market. This includes export training,
identifying international markets and hosting country seminars in collaboration with the international trade offices on a bimonthly basis.

Business Focus: How passionate are you about the success of small business, and how do you intend to drive it?

Herman Breedt: Small business can have a major impact on job creation. JCCI must support small business in terms of seminars and employment practices to be successful and grow. Small business also needs to be more involved in the incoming and outgoing delegations as set up by JCCI.

JCCI also runs an incubator programme in collaboration with the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH). Incubatees are mentored to become export-ready and international markets are identified.

Business Focus: Any new initiatives that you intend to introduce to capacitate emerging entrepreneurs?

Herman Breedt: We have started with the first Monday of the Month seminars, which provide extensive engagement and capacity building for our members.

Business Focus: What are two things that you would like to see change or improve in terms of doing business in South Africa?

Herman Breedt: Job creation and getting rid of corruption.

Business Focus: What is the importance of JCCI membership?

Herman Breedt: We have the ability to assist small business to become members and introduce them into the structures of JCCI to participate and get future support. My close relationship with the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura, who has the same passion, will assist business and youth to jointly make these projects work.

Business Focus: How do you intend to foster regional trade links as we saw recently with the visit to Namibia by the JCCI delegation?

Herman Breedt: One of my goals must be to do more outgoing visits internationally with JCCI delegates. Bernadette, our new international trade officer, has done a superb job in the short while that she has been with JCCI to drive this project.

Business Focus: More often than not, business is criticised for not doing enough to transform the economy. How do you plan to ensure that corporate South Africa plays a meaningful role in this regard?

Herman Breedt: JCCI was quite successful in the past to effect change and I will follow in these footsteps. Ultimately the onus is on business to effect change with the support of Government in terms of policies and practices.

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