Written by Markus Mostert
14th October 2016
In Roman times a ‘forum’ meant a “public place at the centre of a market or town where open discussions on judicial, political, and other issues were held”. The importance of discussion and debate reflects in three of the objectives of the Grahamstown Business Forum (GBF):a) to engage with the Municipality and Local Government to be involved with processes affecting Commerce and Industry in Grahamstown, (b) to encourage networking and information sharing amongst members, and (c) to facilitate an inclusive space for members and the general public to share information.
In August the GBF managed just that. A ‘marketplace discussion’ convened asa public meeting –The Grahamstown Conversation(extensively reported on in Grocott’s Mail of 2 September) where some of our most respected leaders shared their ideas, followed by a platform for comments, questions and answers by the public. Another event aimed at promoting dialogue and networking was the first GBF Business Breakfast held on Friday 30 September. Attended by 58 guests, the Business Breakfast created a space where many business owners met face to face for the first time, a number of whom recruited new clients and many who took note of other businesses. The GBF was delighted to have Riana Meiring, Director of Local Economic Development and Planning at Makana Municipality as our guest of honour. Taking time from his pressing schedule, the audience was also introduced to the newly appointed Grahamstown cluster commander of the SAPS, Brigadier David Mhlangenqaba Kanuka. Brigadier Kanuka extended a warm welcome and invited all present to contact him personally to discuss issues related to safety and security in the business environment.
With a presentation entitled The Future – Bright to Moderately Terrifying?, local businessman Ron Weissenberg engaged the audience on the current minimum wage debate and took them on a journey through to 2024, highlighting both threats and strategies for managing future scenarios. Sharing some of the wisdom of his father (“Everything cometh to he who waits … as long as he who waits works his arse off whilst he waits!”). Ron took a number of tongue-in-the-cheek stabs at some government strategies that failed spectacularly to achieve what they set out to do due the unscientific basis for their implementation, demonstrating how threats in the current business environment are characterised by state capture, government supply capture, employee capture, regulatory capture and law or ‘edict’ capture.To protect free-enterprise from government, Ron presented a future scenario of the electronic age where the use of crypto currency and crypto contracts have the potential to eliminate the need for regulatory control from government. In energy freedom, Ron shared some of the next generation developments in harnessing and storing electricity- freeing people to become producers rather than only consumers.
Whilst pulling off a very successful and productive “marketplace discussion” such as the GBF Business Breakfast, the Grahamstown Business Forum is currently dependent on the dedication of a small number of individuals who offer their time and financial resources to keep the organisation going. Income generated from donors and membership fees is however not sufficient to sustain the activities of the Forum. Business owners and private individuals are therefore encouraged to email Marlene Mitchener at email@example.com for information about becoming a member of the GBF and supporting the sustainability and direction of commerce in our community.