Today I went to an interactive session on “Doing Business with South Africa” organized by SICCI – The Southern India Chamber of Commerce & Industry and South African High Commission @ Taj Coromandel, Chennai. Here are some important pointers I gathered from that event, for people interested in engaging with South Africa economically –
No. of Indians in South Africa: 1.5 Million, 3% of the population.
South Africa accounts for 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent. Besides, the dignitaries claimed that SA is a good base for people wishing to do business with other African countries.
They mentioned that companies investing in South Africa can take back 100% of the profits generated. There maybe some T&Cs, do check…
Indian companies investing in SEZs in SA have lower corporate tax (15%) and are allowed duty-free imports of components used in production/assembly over there. Govt. also contributes a share of local training expenses.
People who wish to know which sectors would attract upcoming investments could refer to Industrial Policy Action Plan and National Development Plan released by Govt. of SA.
Tax incentives (12 i) are available for manufacturing investments; Incentives are also available for film/TV productions and a no. of other sectors.
South Africa, it seems, has a lot of ore deposits like platinum, iron, etc. They have 80% of the manganese ores of the world. They are looking for companies/ partners who could help them “beneficate” (probably they mean process or convert into a product) these ores in South Africa itself.
Opportunities are available to supply pharmaceuticals, especially generic medicines, and other medical equipment/devices.
Most MNCs in South Africa (including major car industries) are 100% owned by the parent companies in the respective countries. The No. 1 automobile component they export is Catalytic Converter.
SA has already invested more than $10 billion USD for renewable energy. Scope for RE industry in South Africa is good, going forward.
Govt. plans to spend close to $2 billion USD over the next few years for developing sea ports. Opportunites for foreign investments abound in this sector also.
Tea Trails Cafe is a company/franchise store chain where you get different varieties of teas, chai, coffee & desserts. Did you know that a Tea is different from Chai? Teas are made without milk but Chai is made with milk and sugar. That was something we learned during a recent bloggers’ meet held at Tea Trails Cafe, Anna Nagar East branch, Chennai.
I have long wondered why there was no Coffee Day for Teas. I mean, India is the largest consumer of chai but we mostly have larger cafes selling only coffees! Me personally being a fan of Tea wanted to see a Tea Day in every locality, and looks like Tea Trails is on their way to achieving just that. Currently, Tea Trails has multiple outlets in major South Indian cities and in Delhi. But they are looking for franchise partners to setup shops in other cities too.
The ambiance at Tea Trails is better than most coffee shops I have been to. Have a look at this slideshow to glimpse inside their Anna Nagar East branch at Chennai. You can also find some foods/desserts we had there –
Of course, a cafe is not just a place to go and drink a beverage. It’s also a place to go with others and spend a good amount of time socializing. Tea Trails offers the right ambiance for that.
In tea trails, you don’t get a ready made tea. Instead, since teas are best when freshly brewed, you get a jug with hot water at the bottom and the tea extracts on top. Each tea comes with a card to indicate timing required for brewing and an antique stopwatch to measure how long the tea has been brewed. It seems accuracy is important in the art of brewing tea!
We also had the Indian Chai, Cold Teas, detox teas, herbal teas, etc. My favorite drink there was a cold tea called ‘Better Wife’. The range of desserts offered by them is also impressive. Snacks like vada pav, onion bajji, etc. have also been included in the menu.
I know you are jealous on seeing what all we drank/ate. But what to do – bloggers often get invited for such ‘tasty’ sessions and this time it happened to be us. You can always visit the tea trails store in your city and try some of their offerings 🙂 If you are there for the first time, you might get a small discount too – try asking for it.
Today I went to a seminar titled, ‘Doing Business with Belgium – Your Gateway to Europe’ at Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam, Chennai. The Council General, Mr. Bart De Groof, Consulate General of Chennai (speaking in the below photo) was among a handful of dignitaries who participated and spoke about trade opportunities for Indians in Belgium and vice versa.
The location of Belgium in Europe is central as it is surrounded by major countries like France, Netherlands, Germany & Luxembourg. That’s why all the speakers stressed on the point that Belgium, more importantly, its capital Brussels, could be the central hub/distribution point for Indian businessmen aspiring to do business in the entire European Union market including the UK.
Belgium has recently introduced direct flights from Mumbai to Brussels, and it also provides faster access to major European capitals both by train and by flight. They told us that Belgium provides access to a qualified workforce with lower minimum wages compared to the neighboring countries. It seems the cost of living in Belgium is also relatively less. Something to note for Indians: Belgium has a double-taxation treaty with India.
Belgium is not only famous for chocolates, waffles, Tintin & fries but is also popular for its diamonds, mirrors, and leather shoes. They mentioned that a huge community of Indians (particularly Gujaratis) have already settled in Belgium and hold a sizable market share in the diamonds business. Of late, many Indian IT companies have setup operations in the country.
Belgium has a dedicated chamber of commerce for South India and has direct Council presence at Chennai and Bangalore. They also offer the following incentives for new companies wanting to open centers in their country by 2020 –
First employee (could be the highest paid one too) is tax-free for life.
Tax exemption for the next five employees for three years.
Brussels foreign investors hub offers their facilities for free for up to three months for companies wanting to evaluate Belgium to set up their operations.
It seems the Indo-Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce will shortly open portals to enable buying/selling and acquisition between Indian & Belgian businesses. Listing in these portals is free of cost, according to a speaker. There is an Assist Asia consultancy to help Indians connect with people in the Belgian market.
Belgium seems to be enthusiastic about promoting more cross-country trading between India & Belgium. Are the Indian businesses ready?
Place: Jyoti Indira Thirumana Mandapam, Ramasamy Street, Sri Devi Karumariamman Nagar, Valasarawakkam, Chennai – 87. (Behind Tanishq jewellery shop) (Google Maps link for location)
It seems Arappor organizes such sessions regularly. Refer to their Facebook page to know more about their activities and upcoming events.
In this event, the organizers are expected to share their knowledge on how members of the public can interact with Govt. officials and get things done more effectively without paying bribes, etc., among other topics.
Some sessions that you can expect at this event include,
How to use RTI – Right to Information
How to obtain driving license, etc. without paying bribes
How to take up issues like bad roads, open drainage, etc. with officials and how to get it sorted
How to safeguard our natural resources like water bodies
What are our rights with Police and how to interact effectively with them
I will be going this weekend and will write a blog post covering the highlights of this event once I am back. Glad to support a good initiative through this blog. I believe that a little contribution from all of us will go a long way in improving our democracy.
‘Birds of Prey’ is a psychological crime thriller written by Archana Sarat who is currently living in Mumbai but was born and brought up in Chennai. On Sat, Jan. 21, I went to the book launch function organized by the author and publisher (Readomania) at Odyssey bookstore, Adyar.
As you can see in the above photo, the book was launched by Actor Sharath Kumar, among other dignitaries. Notable among them is Mr. Raghavan, a 90-year old former administrator and book lover!
Although the book is a work of fiction, the incidents are based on real-life cases of child abuse picked up from court files and interviews of NGO Activists by the author. As this is a topic that is brushed under the carpet by many, some awareness through mainstream fiction is always welcome.
Here is the author Archana Sarat talking about the journey of publishing her maiden book. I had met Archana before a couple of years when I joined NaNoWriMo Chennai. A bunch of us authors met and wrote through short sprint sessions combined with some fun literary discussions. We even had a full-day writing session one day with a potluck lunch!
So when the author requested me to attend the book launch event at Odyssey, I decided to go as artists need to be encouraged. The author was all praises for the way Chennai came to support the book launch and she mentioned that Chennai is the best city for the support network that exists for art and artists. That seems to be true – the hall was full of people, some were even standing!
One more reason for the crowd may have been due to the presence of Actor Sharath Kumar. I was sitting just four feet away from him when I clicked this photo –
BTW, Actor Sharath Kumar will be releasing his autobiography ‘Puriyadha Thedal’ shortly. Keep a watch for this book on book stands!
Poompuhar Craft Cafe is a joint venture of Sanskrriti gifts and Poompuhar handicrafts, started one month ago. The beautifully decorated cafe is located right next to the Poompuhar showroom at Mount Road, Chennai. It seems this place was a dump yard earlier, but now it has been transformed into a wonderful cafe! The ambiance is awesome with Poompuhar’s handicraft products all along the way & generous bamboo installations.
Yesterday, they had invited a bunch of us for a blogger’s meet. So me and my wife (yes she has a blog now too) went there to explore the food and meet with the management team. It seems they serve vegetarian, healthy, almost-homemade South Indian food from 4 P.M. to 10 P.M. – for now. They are open if people want to organize private parties during lunch time.
We were served their South Indian thali along with millet-based Chapati. The chapati & kara-kozhambu (along with ghee) was very nice. I also liked the thenga-sadham (coconut rice) and the sweet. Actually, I like anything sweet 🙂 They also serve healthy millet-based dosas, bajjis, soups, etc. in the evenings. Here is the team managing Poompuhar Craft Cafe 🙂
You can shop @ Poompuhar and eat here or you can eat here and shop @ Poompuhar. They are open to both 😛 Here are a couple of photos to show you the wonderful ambiance that’s been created inside.
Here are some photos of the products sold by Poompuhar & Sanskriti on display all along the way. I have more photos, but I don’t want to photo-spam you all 😀
I took the above photos at Express Auto Expo 2016 today at Chennai Trade Center. Mr. Dilip Chhabria (after whom DC Design is named) started out designing and manufacturing accessories for premium cars. But eventually, he saw the need for an ‘affordable’ sports car (around 40 Lac!!) and produced India’s first sports car – DC Avanti.
I love the looks of this car. Only the blue and black versions were available at the expo today, but these cars are available in other (more vibrant) colors too.
Have a look at the below embedded short video made by the company that gives a clearer view of the car –
Urban Tree is a construction company based in Chennai. Today, a few of us bloggers were invited to the #UrbanTreeJourney event where their staff showed us around few of their upcoming projects. In this post, I present to you a few photos taken from three of Urban Tree’s upcoming residential properties in Chennai – Wow (Medavakkam), Oxygen (Perumbakkam) & Fantastic (Vanagaram). I will write a detailed blog post about this visit, the company, and their apartments in my other blog – Chennai.buzz. I will link it from here once it is ready.
For now, enjoy a few interesting pics clicked by me in this event:)