The chamber, which is run by its president Leon Ayo, is a business-to-business network promoting trade and commercial relations between the United Kingdom and Africa. It has strong links to the British government and in particular the UK department of trade and industry and is fully accredited by the British Chambers of Commerce in the UK.
“There are three fundamental mandates,” explains Foster-Pedley of his new role, “a lot of the members are either British companies working or wanting to work in southern Africa or South African companies wanting in expand into Britain. The chamber exists to help them do this through advice and creating networking opportunities.
“My role is to help the incredibly competent team led by Leon to do just this, but there’s also another opportunity, to transition the whole concept of business in Africa.”
In the past, says Foster-Pedley, trade between Africa and the rest of the world was extractive, with the most obvious examples being the colonial model of trade.
“That’s the antithesis of everything we stand for. What we want to do is to ensure that businesses who come to South Africa come with a strong mission to increase prosperity in the region.”
It’s critical, he says, given South Africa’s ever-widening Gini co-efficient and the growing numbers of jobless.