An informal meeting took place on 1st May 1994 at the Ernst de Meynier residence attended by the late E.de Meynier as the convener, Peter Kastner, the late Guenther Grumptmann, Ursula Matras, Walter Hauser and Gerhart Mischinger.

The purpose of the meeting was to find ways to give the Austrian Business Community a bigger “voice”, a need that was not adequately met in the prevailing constellation, where business was incorporated in the Austrian Business and Social Circle.

It was agreed in principle that it would be beneficial to separate the diverse interests and form two separate organisations, one representing Austrian Business Interests in Southern Africa and another taking care of social and sports activities through the Austrian Club Johannesburg.

In a meeting on 12th May 1994, the Austrian Business Circle was properly constituted through a unanimous vote by the above-mentioned originators.

On 18.7.1995 notes from minutes highlighted the fact that the new ABC had operated successfully for almost one year in its current format with Ursula Matras as ABC Secretary and Peter Kastner as Chair.

A year later, an ABC press release from 21.8.1996 made the following announcement: “The ABC under the Chairmanship of Peter Kastner has been incorporated under “section 21” of the Companies Act and registered as AUSTRIAN BUSINESS CHAMBER in Southern Africa”

The newly acquired status facilitated closer co-operation with Trade Missions, Embassies, Bi-Lateral Chambers, Business Delegations, Corporations and EU Representatives.

One of the ABC missions is the support of various Social Responsibility Programs such as the SOS Children’s Village in SA, Student Exchanges, as well as Business Projects and advisory services.

The close cooperation with the Austrian Trade Commission, (Advantage Austria), who has always been a strong supporter of the ABC, ensures a constant information exchange, reinforced through regular meetings at the Trade Commission Offices in Rosebank.

Since its founding as a Chamber in 1996, the ABC has gone from strength to strength and has attained the status of being the voice of business for Austrians in Southern Africa. Under the leadership of past and present Chairs, it was possible to maintain a reliable and financially stable organisation capable of uniting the Austrian and South African business communities.

The most popular and important marketing tool for the ABC has always been the regular Sundowners and Networking Events in different locations, where members and guests could meet, interact, exchange information, and get updated on current events.

The ABC also organised high-profile speakers for the functions:

  • AmbassadorsBrigitte Öppinger-Walchshofer and Dr. Johann Brieger, Lin Songtian (Chinese Ambassador to SA) and Marcus Cornaro (EU Ambassador)
  • South African Politicians like Mathews Phosa, Herman Mashaba, Naledi Pandor, Dr. Rob Davies, David Makhura
  • Economists like Dawie Roodt (his Budget Presentations are yearly highlights) and Dr. Frans Cronje (Institute of Race Relations)

Music by MIAGI has been a big favourite at the ABC too and is present at many of our events. Many of our member companies like Werth Schroder, Roedl & Partner have organised interesting business workshops and webinars over the years.

A yearly ABC Golf Day was inaugurated in 2015 and has been running every year until 2019 after which we had to take a break due to covid restrictions, but we are planning to re-instate the ABC Golf Day in 2022 again.

Over the past 25 years, the ABC has had 4 Chairs. The past Chairs were Peter Kastner, Karl Kebert and Thomas Zilk. The present Chair, Christian Neuberger and his team of Directors continue to ably manage the organisation on the way forward into a bright future.

After 25 years of ABC, we are celebrating our members, who have supported us throughout this time.

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