Event and trade organisations serve as advocates for industry. By bringing competitors together, they are able to motivate one small voice into a persuasive, unified call. As a collective, organised business associations improve the competitive performance of individuals by the provision of business education, activities and programmes, leadership strategy, lobbying, representation and the challenging of issues and government legislation that affect industries at both national and international levels.
South African business associations offer a diverse range of resources, including leadership, safety, environmental regulations and global trade agreements. They are also repositories of information and provide news on the latest trends and business developments. Other professional educational benefits provide members with actionable ways to improve their business and individual knowledge. Their main focus is to offer collaboration between companies, set standards of business, and offer support in the form of conferences, networking, information, connection and learning.
Associations work to promote growth and investment, build new enterprises, and forge stronger links between business communities. The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), which is the country’s largest business organisation with a membership of close to 20 000 businesses offers its members a choice of almost 50 constituent chambers.
Government-led organisations such as the dti offer development in trade, exports and investment, with incentives that include the Enterprise Investment Program (EIP) and the Black Business Supplier Development Programme (BBSDP) . They offer entrepreneurs and business executives grants and incentives available for new developments, innovations, start-ups and expansion projects that extend over border.
Their incentives are aimed at encouraging investments in South Africa, building capacity, creating job opportunities, and expanding the value chain with local resources and recycling of waste products. The Export Marketing and Investment Assistance programme (EMIA) aims to promote exports of South African products and foreign direct investment. Cash subsidies are available for South African exhibitors to exhibit their products on exhibitions abroad; for Foreign Trade Missions; for the formation of formal export councils; for export market research; and product registration such as PCT and foreign patent registration costs.
As an agency of the dti, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is mandated to implement government’s small business strategy; design and implement a standard and common national delivery network for small enterprise development, in order to ensure their growth and sustainability alongside international best practices.
Ultimately, a trade association represents the ideals of an industry and offers its members reputational standing. Their marketing channels work as powerful conduits for marketers hoping to be seen alongside the highest standards represented in an industry.
For members they offer reliable data regarding the workings of the industry and provide excellent insight into member companies and the concurrent industry landscape. This means members will be able to sell more efficiently.
In order for any organisation to be effective, however, it is necessary for members to engage in a two-way street and participate in surveys, industry discussions and networking events, and the benchmarking of information and data that can drive sales.
Benefits of engaging with an event or trade organisation
- Sharing of best practices, fresh ideas and information about what impact the bottom line;
- Promotion in newsletters and workshops;
- Reputational enhancement and customer confidence in products and services on offer that adhere to set standards;
- Access to new customers, target markets and decision-makers;
- International trade as a growth opportunity for global expansion;
- Access to legal services, health insurance, labour advice, and industry discounts;
- Accelerated process of learning and competitiveness so companies can mobilise quickly;
- Ability to evaluate and compare the business with international standards;
- Access to international marketing plans;
- Access to dedicated personnel, budgets and appropriate business procedures;
- Solid agent or distributor agreements; and
- Access to doing business within the parameters of intellectual property rights and anti-competition laws and appropriate export counselling.