Business Chamber CEO, Nomkhita Mona, highlights on UBUNTU COVID-19 FUND and recent donation of field hospital by Volkswagen.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is the largest organized Business formation in the region - with a membership of around 700 - employing over 100 000 employees.

The Business Chamber is the voice of business in the region. We are the voice that represents a cross-section of businesses ranging from small, micro, medium and large.

On a number of occasions, the Business Chamber has played a leadership role coming up with innovative ideas to challenges facing us.

Once again during this COVID-19 outbreak, we were proactive and sprung into action.
The first step we took was to set up an internal Joint Operations Committee - chaired by the Chamber President, Dr Andrew Muir.

The main aim of the JOC was to coordinate the response of the business sector towards what we recognized as a potential humanitarian crisis. Secondly, we made a call to business to participate in the JOC, crafting strategies to help.

Thirdly, we approached the Metro JOC - Chaired by the Acting Mayor Cllr Buyeye - where we wanted to find out what their state of readiness was & more importantly, we asked the question: if business were to assist, what kind of help would you need?

With guidance from Dr John Black, the physician appointed by Province to head up the clinical aspects of the JOC - under the SG, Dr Thobile Mbengashe - we were given a number of areas of assistance ranging from PPE, additional hospital capacity, a need for a field hospital was highlighted, and a long list of other requirements.

The Business Chamber then set up a fund - the UBUNTU COVID-19 FUND - and made a clarion call to our members to DONATE, SUPPORT AND VOLUNTEER. We attached the list of needs to the letters we wrote to our members. No sooner had those letters landed, than we received pledges of money, and sponsorships in kind.

A number of companies put their hands up to be part of the movement. Volkswagen was one of the first companies to step up!

As a result of that call made by the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber for COVID-19 relief efforts, the following has been achieved:

  • Wards in two public hospitals (the Livingstone and the PE Provincial) have been refurbished and brought back into commission - adding over 160 bed capacity. Additional to the work done at the hospitals.
  • ISUZU have made available their Distribution Centre - with state-of-the-art computerized systems to assist with distribution, with trucks and some refrigerated trucks to be the repository for all the supplies.
  • We have received millions worth of donated PPE from member and non-member companies as well as some individuals.
  • A number of companies donated funds to assist specifically with ensuring that our men and women on the frontline are protected.
  • A number of companies including Jendamark, teamed up with the likes of Volkswagen to use their innovative 3-D printing systems to make some of the COVID-19 related products already mentioned by Thomas Schaefer.

We played a key role in the negotiations with the various spheres of government - culminating to the signing of the Agreement.

This is true testimony to our values at the Business Chamber, underpinned by our Quadruple Helix model of collaboration between Academia, Business, Civil Society and Government.

Sometimes, all you have to do is plant a seed... and let people like Thomas Schaefer of Volkswagen and many other members of the Business Chamber water it.

We are immensely proud of the outcomes of our initial actions - as we always tend to measure impact. This field hospital is by far the most significant project - with a far -reaching impact on the communities of Nelson Mandela Bay.

We would also like to acknowledge all the members, non-member companies and indeed individuals who have donated and continue to donate to our COVID-19 Fund.

As I conclude, I wish to salute the men and women on the frontline - as they face their own fears -but go in the eye of the storm - in an effort to fight the pandemic.
Once again, sometimes: all you have to do is plant a seed...

To Volkswagen and the GIZ, we remain eternally grateful

Kind Regards,

Chief Executive Officer

Nomkhita Mona