Chairman’s Report 2020 ABC Annual General Meeting

These are unprecedented times indeed! During the last 6 months, the world as we know it has undergone profound changes.

A global pandemic, and even more though, the concerted efforts by governments across the globe to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus, have had a devastating effect on the worlds economic outlook and the well-being of people across the globe.

We have experienced and accepted restrictions on our personal freedom, which many of us would not have believed to be possible in our current democratic world. Unemployment and inequality is rising across the globe and is threatening the social fabric. There is no doubt, that we are shaping a new future, a future which will be built on a different way of how we work and how we relate and interact with each other.

In these difficult times, networking organizations such as the Austrian Business Chamber are of increasing importance for the support and well-being of our members and our business interest alike, but we as well were severally impacted in our possibilities on how to engage with you.

So, after a long 9 months, is indeed wonderful to hold a life event today and to see so many of you again in person

And even though we were unable to hold our regular events and sundowner networking sessions during these trying times, our members continued to show their support for the Austrian Business Chamber.

So, first of all, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all of you, our esteemed members, for your continued loyalty and contributions to our Chamber and the Austrian community in South Africa.

The great value that we the Austrian Business Chamber as a networking organization offer to our members, and the wide range of our compelling services, is also reflected in a consistently growing group of premium members.

Thank you very much

Thank you so much for your ongoing support, not only financially, but a special thank you goes to those of you who have over the years regularly contributed by bringing to our members interesting events and talks, or more recently, webinars!

At todays Annual General Meeting, we are foremost reflecting on a financial year that still represented normality, a time before we were hit by a Covid-19 pandemic, lock-downs and an extremely challenging economic situation

The 2020 financial year was a very successful year with an abundance of formidable events.

We started the year with Frans Cronje from the Institute of Race Relations reflecting on the Rise and Fall of South Africa, and it wasnt a rosy picture even before Covid-19 hit us.

We brought you another successful Golf Day at the Houghton Golf Club, in which we raised 18.000R for our chosen charity Education Africa.

We hosted various talks by our premium members, such as HCIs skills workshops and Juergen Bekkers talk on Social Media and the Law.

We looked at business opportunities in the rest of Africa in our Africa Outlook workshop and of course we brought you Dawie Roodts already legendary budget talk.

Today, the 2020 financial year line up of events, feels like a lot like a golden, long forgotten time, when we were able to share laughs and interesting discussions over a good glass of wine during our networking events.

Covid-19 and the lockdowns changed everything, but we adapted swiftly to the new world of webinars and continued to bring you interesting talks and workshops, such as:

  • the Covid-19 Workshop by Werth Schroeder and
  • Dawie Roodt’s outlook on the Post Pandemic Challenges.
  • The Austrian Trade Commission’s webinar on opportunities in Sub Saharan Africa
  • Intergest’s insights on opportunities in Nigeria.
  • Daniel Jaeger enlightened us on 5G telecom networks in Africa,
  • Frans Cronje spoke on what’s next for the ANC,
  • and Kevin Cartmell briefed us on the new ways of doing business, in his Digital Transformation webinar.

Sadly, due to Covid-19 restrictions we were forced to cancel our 2020 Charity Golf Day, but we did participate in a Food drive in Orange Farm in co-operation with Education Africa during the lockdown.

All in all, an impressive lineup of events during trying times!

Owing to the ongoing support of our loyal members, and Deon’s continued stewardship, our finances remain very healthy. Revenues for the year grew to over 343.000R, showing almost 15% growth, and we once again ended the year with a small profit of just over 30.000R. Our cash balances also grew and now stand at just over 390.000R, putting the Austrian Business Chamber on a solid foundation.

The future remains uncertain, but myself and my fellow directors are committed to continue to bring you interesting events, talks and networking opportunities, hopefully soon again face-to-face.

Sadly, our Annual year-end get together at the Austrian Trade Commission had to be cancelled due to the guidelines issued by the Austria government, so today is our last event for this year.

All our Board members will be available for re-election and are seeking your mandate to continue our work for you, the members of the Austrian Business Chamber.

Sadly, we lost one of our team members, Marco Errath, to the latest emigration wave. Marco returned with his family to Austria in July this year, he was a great asset to us and we wish him all the best for his future

The Board of Directors of the ABC is very open to welcoming new board members, so if anyone would like to make a bigger contribution to our Chamber, please come and talk to me after the AGM

After 8 years in South Africa, Trade Commissioner Johannes Brunner also took up a new challenge back at the Austrian head-office.

I would like to thank Johannes Brunner and his team from the Austrian Trade Commission not only for providing us with a home, but also for all his invaluable support and contributions over many years!

I am also using today’s opportunity to formally welcome Martin Meischl, as the new head of the Austrian Trade Commission. Martin is well known to many of us from his prior postings to South Africa, and we wish him all the best in his new role.

Martin has continued to provide us with the same strong support as his predecessors, and we are looking forward to continuing the close co-operation between the Austrian Trade Commission and the Austrian Business Chamber. Thank you very much for your ongoing support!

I would like to conclude by thanking my fellow directors Monika, Gerhart, Richard, Deon, Sheri-Leigh and Maria, for all their contributions and hard work for the Austrian Business Chamber, in tirelessly bringing you interesting events, talks and webinars to support you and your businesses. Thank you everyone!

But most importantly, I would like to thank all of you, our valued members, for your loyal support and trust in the ABC as the networking organization of your choice.

I am looking forward to seeing you at our next exciting event in 2021.

Thank you

Christian Neuberger


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