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INTERVIEW

WECBOF: Where entrepreneurs excel Arifa Parkar is the CEO of the Western Cape Business Opportunities Forum (WECBOF). You were born in Zanzibar, grew up in the Seychelles, Mauritius and India… so when did Cape Town become home?

Arifa Parkar, CEO

I came to the shores of South Africa in 1991 and very soon after I realised that this could very well be my final choice of a place to call home. It just suited me in every aspect – the different cultures, the “joie de vivre”, the diversity, and of course the cosmopolitan appeal of Cape Town just spread its web around my heart. Does your vast international experience enhance WECBOF’s work?

BIOGRAPHY Arifa Parkar completed her formal education at the University of Bombay and Mumbai, earning a BA in Economics and Politics before moving on to complete her LLB in 1985. The same year she acquired her qualifications in Business Management. In 1999 she joined the Department of Economic Affairs and Tourism before becoming Marketing Manager at the Cape Chamber in 2001. She is an active member and executive on the Committee of the South African Institute of International Affairs (Western Province Branch) and was elected the 1st President of Mafubo South Africa, an international NGO. In addition to her role as CEO of WECBOF, Arifa also owns and runs Aasha Investment Solutions (Pty) Ltd.

Absolutely – I strongly believe that networking is the key to any business’s success. Over the years my personal network has grown quite significantly, and this will be the key to opening local, national and international opportunities for WECBOF and our members. How has WECBOF changed its focus in recent years? WECBOF started out as a voice for coloured businesspeople, but today it represents all South Africans with a common passion for entrepreneurship in the Western Cape. This is our greatest achievement. How does WECBOF encourage more opportunities for SMMEs? To succeed in today’s collaborative, client-driven, networked economy, companies must take advantage of the strength of their business relationships to succeed. A new economy is emerging, one built on a complex network of information, interaction and change. This evolving business landscape, shaken by technological innovation, globalisation and downsizing, has led us back to embracing the most fundamental aspect of business: relationships. That is why WECBOF is in constant dialogue with stakeholders so that we create an enabling environment for our members, as well as those with whom we interact and do business. Which of your accolades means the most to you?

I have two personal favourites that stand out from the rest, one from CEO Magazine as the “Most Influential Woman in Business” Award, and the second was awarded to me by Business Partners for my “Contribution to SMMEs in the Western Cape”. These two are very dear to my heart.

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