South African businesses must help to counter negative headlines

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Businesses must do their bit to address challenges and explore how to effectively take the economy to its next phase of growth.

That’s according to Grant Thornton South Africa’s national chairman, Deepak Nagar.

Nagar says in a media release he believes South Africa has much to offer businesses interested in expanding into the country. Alongside developed physical and digital infrastructure, it has a well-regulated and secure stock market, tough banking regulations, attractive foreign exchange provisions and political stability. This is the narrative that South Africa has got to emphasise to the global community.

“There should be a greater emphasis on the country providing international businesses with good, concise information about relevant factors – such as economic performance, wellbeing of the population and its strengths,” he said. “Communication must be constant and consistent over multiple platforms, as we continuously craft messages to maximise the country’s brand as an investment destination.”

He says most businesses in search of growth will, at some point, consider expanding into an emerging economy. “The large working-age populations and huge, hungry consumer markets that these countries offer are strong pull factors for ambitious businesses,” said Nagar.

“Yet there is often something holding businesses back from investing in South Africa and that is the tough social challenges documented on an almost daily basis by the world’s media.”

“Many foreign companies have been successful in South Africa despite the socio-economic challenges,” he says.

Those who have succeeded have teamed up with a credible local partner who has helped them to navigate the nation’s many challenges and make the right decisions. These decisions include not only how to avoid trouble spots but also how to steer clear of corrupt practices and make sense of complex and frequently changing regulation.

He pointed out that South Africa was the single biggest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa, attracting more than a quarter of the continent’s total FDI allocation. But to many countries outside, the dominant story about South Africa is one of crime, violence and, more recently, of poor labour relations.

Nagar says in order to attract greater investment, South Africa needs to counter the negative headlines and perceptions with more positive news that promotes the nation’s promising, emerging economy.

“The prize is great – to become the investment gateway to the entire African continent.”