New GSB business forum set to build opportunities in the East

27 September 2004

UCT's Graduate School of Business (GSB) is launching a new business forum to enable South African companies to take advantage of business opportunities in the East, particularly China, the fastest growing economic zone in the world.

The forum is a first in South Africa and is designed to give business leaders an insider view of doing business in the East. It will also provide useful opportunities to network and source business in the region.

Senior lecturer Kurt April, one of the prime movers behind the forum, said that with the East poised to become the next economic powerhouse of the world, South Africa can no longer afford to ignore the huge opportunities in the region.

"There is a very real prospect that South Africa could play an important role in building an Eastern/African economic block that could be enormously powerful on the global economic and political landscape. But this will be possible only if we learn to understand the differences and similarities of living and doing business in the two regions," he said.

The forum is a unique hybrid - part conference and part executive short course - synthesising both mediums into a format that fosters dialogue and learning. The forum will provide a practical understanding of the complex and multi-faceted character of doing business in modern Asia. It will address the problems, issues and environment of business in the region, drawing on case studies and stories of people working there.

"The East seems scary to many people because the way of life and of doing business in that part of the world are so different to the dominant Western way of doing things," said April. "However, South Africans are actually very well positioned to operate in an Eastern environment. They have already learnt some of the skills needed to do business in countries such as China. Chief among these is understanding how to operate in a climate of complexity and change."

There are currently about 40 South African companies doing business in China, which makes South Africa one of the most active international players in the country.

The GSB forum will draw on the experiences of these businesses, featuring insights from SABMiller and South African Tourism - businesses that have been particularly successful in China and learnt a trick or two.

Two top Chinese delegates, Professor Tang Renwu, dean of the School of Management at Beijing Normal University, and Wei Huang, an executive director of Trihelix BV in the Netherlands, will bring their knowledge of doing business in China to bear on the course. Huang is an international business broker specialising in opportunities in China and forum delegates will have an opportunity to meet privately with her on the Friday after the event to discuss business prospects.

The forum will take place from December 6 to 9. For more information contact Lucille Roberts on (021) 406 1324.

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