The Italian-South African Chamber of Trade and Industries was established in 1983. Initially the Chamber was more of a meeting place for CEO’s of Italian companies to discuss how to face the difficult and rapidly changing political and economic conditions of South Africa. Ever since, with a rich history of challenges and triumphs, the Chamber has gone through many changes and improvements.
The first elected chairman was Paolo Tosi, CEO of printing company Olivetti Africa. The Chamber was central to initiating the first steps towards establishing the “Made In Italy” brand in South Africa at an exhibition held at the Rand Easter Show in 1983. A pavilion was hired to put up a show of Italian products open to exhibitors from Italy and to local Italian importers or manufacturers. A sponsor for the opening day was found in the successful Italian businessman, Marino Chiavelli.
Despite some initial successes, the early years were difficult in the context of a very challenging and unpredictable economic and political landscape in South Africa. The first turning point was reached in the latter part of 1986 when Silverio Boccetti, CEO of Telsaf-Telettra was elected Chairman with a mandate to pursue a new philosophy and add a different edge to the Chamber. This new approach was to inspire future activities and was to give the Chamber a very high profile through a series of events involving important guest speakers, so as to put a shine on the public perception of the Chamber.
After several years of steady progress, the second most important turning point, was represented by two completely unrelated events: the recruitment of a new Secretary General and the election of a new Chairman. The new Secretary General was Giancarlo Barsotti, retired CEO of Fiat South Africa and co-founder of security company Sandton Sentry. Soon after, the General Assembly voted Andrea Bollo to be the new Chairman. He was then re-elected for the next ten years which is a true testimony of his role in re-launching the institution and in setting the stage for the growth and recognition of the Chamber as the “bridge” of commercial trade between both countries. For the first time, in 1999, the Chamber held the Business Excellence Awards, an annual event which recognises and celebrates outstanding business achievements within the Italian-South African business community.
From 2000 to 2004 Aldo Castellari was elected chairman and was succeeded in 2004 by Giovanni Ravazzotti, founder of Italtile. His vision, energy and foresight saw the Chamber go from strength to strength. In 2007 a new Secretary General, Mariagrazia Biancospino, was appointed and remains the secretary general today. From 2008 to 2010 Nicolina Di Santolo was appointed Chairperson, so becoming the first woman leading the Italian Chamber of Trade and Industries in its 27-year-old history. In 2010 Di Santolo was succeeded by Andrea Moz. He guided the Chamber through a time of positive change where trade missions from Italy were becoming popular and collaboration between both countries was increasing, especially due to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Mr. Moz was succeeded by Antonio Cimato of Efficient Engineering. Cimato brought forward successful strategies of the previous years, contributing to the expansion of services offered by the Chamber and saw the Chamber boast an increase of its members to 300. Trade missions in South Africa, networking, event organisation, servicing it’s members, facilitating the visits of South African delegates to Italy and market research are just a few of the services which Cimato as chairperson and the staff at the Chamber focused on. In March 2017 Cimato was succeeded by the current CEO of Italtile, Sergio Galli.
Galli is a pragmatic and highly experienced Italian-South African businesman who worked his way up to the executive position of one of the best performing South African companies. Under Galli, the Chamber will continue its legacy of excellence in improving the economic and commercial bilateral relationship between Italy and South Africa. Galli pledges that the Chamber will continue to serve its members as well as the Italian-South African business community to the best of its ability.
CHAIRPERSONS OF THE CHAMBER
1982 – 1985: Paolo Tosi - Olivetti Africa
1985 – 1986: Luciano Alberti - Agip Lubricants
1986 – 1989: Silverio Boccetti - Telsaf – Telettra
1989 – 2000: Andrea Bollo - Wanda Bollo Estates
2000 – 2004: Aldo Castellari - Italmarketing
2004 – 2008: Gianni Ravazzotti – ItaltileLtdCeramicIndustries
2008 – 2010: Nicolina Di Santolo - Hi– Tek Ceramics (Pty) Ltd
2010 - 2013: Andrea Moz - Auto Industrial Group
2013 - 2017: Antonio Cimato – Efficient Engineering
2017- Present: Sergio Galli - ItaltileLtdCeramicIndustries