The Italian-South African Chamber of Trade and Industry (Italcham), in collaboration with the Italian Comites Johannesburg and the Italian Consulate General, launched the Small Medium Italian League of Enterprises (SMILE) initiative in Johannesburg last month.
SMILE is a network of companies with a link to Italy, that aims to increase interaction among the Italian business community of South Africa.
Eligible members include companies in South Africa with headquarters in Italy; importers of Italian products; independent Italian-South African professionals; as well as companies owned by Italian South Africans.
SMILE was launched to create a network of small and medium-sized Italian-South African businesses in South Africa, facilitating trade and collaboration among them.
Activities include physical networking events, company profiling on social media and an application where members can communicate with each other and source products and services within the community, Italcham secretary general Pamina Bohrer explains.
Closer collaboration between the Italcham leadership and the local Italian-South African business community has led to this longstanding dream finally becoming a reality, she says.
Italcham assisted in drafting a concrete proposal that met the funding criteria of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which approved the project last year. The success of the project in South Africa has led to suggestions that the same model may be used elsewhere in the world.
“As the project managers of SMILE, we hope to deliver value to the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have shown faith in this initiative. We want to see an increase in transactions among members and increased visibility of businesses within our community,” Bohrer tells Engineering News.
SMILE seeks to foster increased visibility within the Italian SME community in South Africa while facilitating access to a pool of talented Italians in South Africa. It also seeks to revitalise collaboration between Italian companies and the Italian-South African community.
“We aim to expand SMILE to the rest of South Africa next year.
We would also like to see Italian job seekers successfully being placed within our business community,” Bohrer concludes.