The USD 16.2 billion Mahindra Group, one of India’s leading business houses, has given a vote of confidence to doing business in South Africa and on the African continent with the decision to hold its annual Blue Chip company conference in Cape Town this year.
The two-day event, attended by 500 of the senior managers of the diverse group, is the major annual event for strategic planning for the future.
In his opening address at the Cape Town International Conference Centre on Monday, December 2, the chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group, Anand Mahindra, said: “The fact that we are holding this very important corporate conference in Cape Town signifies the importance with which the Mahindra Group views the business potential of the African continent.
I am encouraging the various divisions of the group to evaluate business opportunities on this continent. This is a region already recording significant economic growth, with huge promise for the future as it develops.”
One of the key speakers at the Blue Chip conference was well known African entrepreneur, Ashish Thakkar, who spoke on the topic of ‘Africa Will Lead the Way’. Thakkar, who is of Indian origin, said that Africa was poised for huge growth in the coming years thanks to favourable demographics and an investor friendly attitude.
Other speakers at the Blue Chip conference included renowned economist, Pankaj Ghemawat who spoke on ‘Globalization versus Globaloney’. According to Ghemawat who has extensively researched this topic, the world today is not as globalized as many believe, and that cross-border differences still matter in the global economy.
In addition, Sugata Mitra who is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England gave a fascinating talk on ‘Schools in the Cloud’.
Mitra is best known for his ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment where young children from underprivileged backgrounds learnt to use computers by themselves without any formal assistance.
He shared his views on future trends in education and how this would help develop a work force that can drive innovation by working effectively in teams.
The closing address for the conference was delivered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 1984, who is a champion for development of the African continent and its people.
Mahindra is already involved in the automotive, information technology (IT) and aerospace industries in South Africa, while many of the Mahindra Group companies are already very active in business ventures in various African countries.
Mahindra operates in the key industries that drive economic growth, enjoying a leadership position in tractors, utility vehicles, information technology and vacation ownership. In addition, Mahindra enjoys a strong presence in the agribusiness, aerospace, components, consulting services, defence, energy, financial services, industrial equipment, logistics, real estate, retail, steel, commercial vehicles and two wheeler industries.
In 2012, Mahindra featured on the Forbes Global 2000 list, a listing of the biggest and most powerful listed companies in the world. In 2013, the Mahindra Group received the Financial Times ‘Boldness in Business’ Award in the ‘Emerging Markets’ category.