HISTORY OF SATCC

The South African-Thai Chamber of Commerce (SATCC) was founded on 9th June 1995, and it is the oldest African chamber in Thailand. Indeed, it is the only South African Chamber of Commerce in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). SATCC is endorsed by the South African Embassy in Bangkok and encourages participation

The Founding President, Ronald C Endley was elected in 1995 and served as Chairman of the Chamber for 5 consecutive years, until late 2000.

THE EARLY 90s

The South African Embassy in Bangkok worked closely with SATCC, together with Roel Goris, the first South African Ambassador to Thailand, leading the way. He was replaced by Ambassador Janse van Rensburg who was very supportive and sacrificed much of his time to help make the Chamber a lively and active part of the international and commercial scene back in the 1990s.

Indeed, the South African Embassy contributed much to our Chamber, as it does now, to promote the image of.

In the first few years, the Chamber attracted many new companies, and within 5 years had grown to nearly fifty members with numerous of South Africa’s largest companies joining up. These included First National Bank, South African Airways (SAA) and Nedcor Bank. UBC (also known as – True TV) was also a member, in those days, the South African Naspers group held an interest in the organization.

Absa Bank was a founder member and generously supported the Chamber in its fledgling years. SAA was equally as supportive as it sponsored flights for a Thai trade mission to South Africa in 1997.

On 17th July, 1997, our Chamber was delighted and honoured, along with the Board of Trade of Thailand and the Thai Chambers of Commerce, hosted a lunch at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Bangkok, where Nelson Mandela, the the first black President of South Africa at the time, addressed and captivated over 700 guests with his incredible speech..

Our Chamber continued to promote South Africa in all aspects of business but also became active on the local social scene and Ron Endley was often seen at the Chiang Mai Sixes before leaving Thailand for Australia. Indeed, with many tobacco farmers coming from southern Africa at that time, there was a strong South African presence in and around the Chiang Mai area.

DAWN OF A NEW ERA

In 2001, John Kelly took over as Chairman of SATCC. In those years, our Chamber started at a canter, we issued weekly newsletters, held monthly networking evenings, and printed an annual membership directory. The South African Embassy in Bangkok continued to offer superb support, and allowed many of the networking evenings to be held at the Embassy itself. John Kelly was an excellent President, but sadly fell ill and spent most of his time at the hospital in Canada.

With no one around to pick up the reins, the Chamber became less and less active until the new Ambassador, Buyi Pheto, asked Bob Kervokian and Maurice Bromley to breathe life into the SATCC again. Maurice took over as President of the Chamber until early 2012. Unfortunately, membership slowly declined as more and more SATCC members left the country, however, Maurice, and his board of directors, kept the Chamber going despite the setbacks. Under Maurice’s leadership, the SATCC was on of the driving forces and founding members of the Asia Pacific South African Chambers of Commerce.

After Maurice retired, Rowan Darcy stepped in and served as Chairman in his stead. Rowan did a magnificent job in keeping the Chamber going until passing on the baton to Graham Macdonald in November 2012.

Graham ran the SATCC until 2016 during which time he focussed on developing investment ties between South Africa and Thailand. Also, being based on the Eastern Seaboard, Graham was a strong proponent of the Thai Government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (“EEC”) initiative, working to get South African companies involved in the project, especially in areas where the country excels technically such as airport construction. Graham furthermore grew the SATCC’s membership base and improved its finances.

This allowed his successor, Ragil Ratnam, to further reinvigorate and revitalise the Chamber, especially re-enforcing the relationship with the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand.

Chambers of Commerce in Thailand. Ragil and his board were committed to deliver practical and sustainable solutions to those companies looking to do business in or with South Africa. Ragil also considerably strengthened the partnership between the Chamber and the Embassy, under Ambassador Geoff Doidge; thereby assisting South Africa and Thailand to investigate, and invest in each other’s economic potential. Ragil successfully steered the Chamber and its members through the early year stages of the Covid-19 pandemic before standing down in October 2020. Graham Macdonald stepped in again as acting Chairman of the Chamber until the end of 2022 when Neil van Heerden was newly elected as Chairman of the Board.

MODERN TRANSFORMATION

In October 2023, SATCC had to face some tough decisions post-COVID-19. Our newly elected Chairman, Neil van Heerden, and the board of directors realised that our Chamber needed to realign and commit to the vision and mission of SATCC and provide greater consistency of service and support to the membership community, ensuring the promotion of trade and commercial business between South Africa and Thailand

Meet our board directors

Our Board Directors represent and promote mutual business interests between both Thai and South African businesses in our membership community in Thailand. The key task of our directors aim to further increase the awareness of potential trade and investment opportunities between the two nations.