AEEI chief executive Khalid Abdulla. Picture: Independent Media
Cape Town - South African businesses and business leaders can learn a lot by attending the World Economic Forum, taking what they need out of the global perspectives on offer, applying approaches and principles learned from world business leaders to their own business, with a firm eye on maximising the business volumes of the future so as to avoid business extinction.

This is according to Khalid Abdulla, group chief executive of African Equity Empowerment Investment (AEEI) ahead of his attendance at the global forum next week.

Abdulla said it was important to think globally about how current and future business was planned for and approached - Africa would soon have 2 billion people living on the continent and the world 9billion people in the not-too-distant future.

“We need to listen to what other countries and businesses are experiencing, assimilate the different perspectives and then apply the appropriate practices and innovations to our own,” Abdulla said, adding that it would be important for businesses to develop the right team and to implement solid corporate governance to extract the most value.

“So, you can attend all the conferences in the world, but if you don’t apply and implement what you learn, it is just going to be another certificate on the wall.”

He said despite all the negative news in the country at the moment, including the recent ratings downgrade, there was still much to be positive about as South Africa had achieved amazing things.

“We must celebrate these while working on the challenges,” he said.

Read also: AEEI boss named top empowered business leader

Abdulla encouraged other companies to continue sharing these and other positive stories in order to keep hope alive for the country’s citizens, while current challenges were being addressed, in order to build the nation on a sustainable basis.

“There is an opportunity in everything. As a business leader one has to see things in context while at the same time we have to think out of the box. This current state too shall pass, and we as business need to look to the future and ask ourselves if we will be ready for when that time comes.”


AEEI is a diversified investment group with interests in the fishing, information technology, financial services, food and healthcare industries.

Last month Abdulla was named South Africa’s top empowered business leader of the year at the 16th Oliver Empowerment Awards held in Johannesburg, adding to the slew of business excellence and performance acknowledgements AEEI had secured.

He said the group continued to implement its Vision 2020 strategic plan for growth and transformation, planning to double the size of the business, with several acquisitions in the offing as well as a planned listing of its IT business.

AEEI recently released a trading update sharing that the group half-year results would be higher by at least 50 percent (AEEI half-year results will come out on May 11).

Abdulla said AEEI, since its inception, had undertaken to focus on growing the business and providing the platform for the empowerment of others, especially the empowerment of disadvantaged individuals.

Abdulla said the group’s key to success was its ability to be agile and to adapt to market conditions while remaining firm in its business focus and commitment to developing its people and sticking to all aspects of corporate governance.