South African Connections: Small Business Owners Work toward Forming Strategic Alliances

By Sylvester, Aisha | Black Enterprise, March 2008 | Go to article overview

South African Connections: Small Business Owners Work toward Forming Strategic Alliances


Sylvester, Aisha, Black Enterprise


A STEADY GROWTH RATE AND respectable investment ratings have made South Africa one of the continent's political and economic success stories. The National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. embarked on a mission to explore opportunities to promote business partnerships between African American businesses and black-owned South African companies within the country's pharmaceutical-supply industry. Last November, the NMSDC and corporate members GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co. Inc., and Pfizer hosted CEOs of eight minority-owned companies on a business mission to expose them to the joint-venture possibilities in South Africa. All the companies represented were connected to the pharmaceutical supply industry; several were BE 100s firms.

Traveling from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa, the CEOs were introduced to business leaders, trade organizations, and government officials. Such networking is vital to fostering working relationships between U.S. companies and key players in South African industry. More than 600 U.S. companies are already represented in the African nation.

"There's a very active engagement of the South African government to transform their economy," says NMSDC President Harriet R. Michel. "We believe that by creating strong and larger black South African businesses we can be part of that solution."

Frederick E. Burks, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based The Burks Cos. Inc., a $16.4 million integrated services company that provides commercial cleaning services, including biohazard waste management, pharmaceutical and corporate janitorial services, says the visit was promising; the entrepreneur used the mission to secure offshore opportunities. …

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