South Africa’s Deputy Minister and businesswomen visit Italy

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe led a delegation of 18 women entrepreneurs on a business visit to Italy from 6th to 10th November 2012.

The purpose of the visit was to create opportunities for networking amongst businesswomen from South Africa and Italy, and to encourage the creation of partnerships, joint ventures and strategic alliances.

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Elizabeth Thabethe addressing a delegation of South African and Italian women entrepreneurs

The mission’s main focus was on agriculture and agro-processing, chemicals and beauty products, crafts, furniture and design, leather, jewellery, fashion and clothing.

Whilst in Italy, the Deputy Minister visited Milan from 6th to 8th November and Rome from 8th to 10th November.

In Milan, Ms. Thabethe addressed a conference entitled: “Women’s Entrepreneurship: synergies between South Africa and Italy” at the Hotel Melia on 7th November.

After the conference, the business delegation had meetings with potential Italian partners.

Ms. Thabethe had a bilateral meeting with Hon. Cristiana Muscardini, Vice President of the International Trade Commission at the European Parliament and Ms. Elena Martusciello, President of the National Association “Le Donne del Vino” (Women in Wines).

The drive to improve interaction and trade relations between Italian and South African women’s businesses remained at the centre of discussions in both meetings.

On 8th November, Ms. Thabethe had a working breakfast with the President of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Mr. Mario Boselli. During the meeting the business delegation expressed an interest in establishing contacts between fashion designers and women in the textile industries from both countries.  

The Deputy Minister later met with the Vice President of CONFAPI Industria, Mr. Marco Nard. CONFAPI Industria showed a keen interest in developing business opportunities amongst SMEs from South Africa and Italy.

A proposal to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CONFAPI Industria and a similar association in South Africa was agreed upon.

Ms. Thabethe also met with Ms. Sabrina Rosati, a representative from the Reggio Emilia Municipality and Cooperatives. Ms. Rosati highlighted the MOU signed between Reggio Emilia and South African National Apex Cooperatives (SANACO) and reiterated that Reggio Emilia is very keen on pursuing the issue to strengthen the existing partnership.

In Rome, the Deputy Minister met with her Italian counterpart, Mr. Massimo Vari, Deputy Minister for Economic Development on 9th November. The two discussed possible avenues of cooperation in the promotion of trade and investment relations between Italy and South Africa with particular focus on women.

To enhance cooperation between the two countries, both parties agreed on signing a proposed MOU on Trade and Investment.

Ms. Thabethe and the business delegation also met with the “Associazione Donne in Campo” (Italian Association of Women in Agriculture) to promote synergies between South African and Italian women entrepreneurs in the agro-processing sector.

During the meeting Ms. Thabethe supported the proposal to formalise relations with the Association and the business delegation committed to signing an MOU.

Finally, Deputy Minister Thabethe and the business delegation visited the “Associazione Imprenditrici e Donne Dirigenti di Azienda” (AIDDA, an Association of women entrepreneurs), led by its President Ms. Franca Audisio. They interacted with its members at the Atelier Antonella Rossi, a fashion business created by members of AIDDA and interacted in a more relaxing and practical engagement. This gathering saw business to business engagements resulting in commitments from individual entrepreneurs from both sides.