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CCILSA Hosts First Algarve Networking Event in Three Years: A Step Towards Greater Connections

Albufeira, Portugal – In a significant milestone for the South African Chamber of Commerce in Portugal (CCILSA), the organization held its first event in the Algarve region in over three years.

The networking event, which took place on July 26, 2023, marked a fresh beginning for CCILSA under the leadership of its first female President, Manuela Robinson.
Manuela Robinson, an Associate Director at Blacktower Financial Management (International), Ltd, has taken on the role of CCILSA President with a vision to elevate the chamber’s profile and activities. One of her key initiatives is to diversify the types of events hosted by CCILSA, with networking events being a prominent addition.


A Visionary Leader Takes the Helm


Manuela Robinson’s journey to becoming the President of CCILSA is nothing short of inspiring. Born in Mozambique, she moved to South Africa at the age of 9 and embarked on a remarkable career in the banking and financial industry after completing her studies in Business Economics, with skills that she has honed over her past 30 years of experience within the highly competitive and male-driven sector.
Manuela’s passion for finance and her dedication to community involvement have made her a trusted and well-respected figure in Portugal. Her involvement in various non-profit organizations, including her past role as the President of the Rotary Club Estoi Palace International and Assistant District Governor for Rotary International, further show her longstanding commitment to giving back to the community, whilst uniting and better understanding and serving the community’s interests.
She is also the President of the Supervisory board for TU ÔÇô Talentos Unidos (United Talents Association) in Portugal, an association that supports and promotes education, training, and the upliftment of young people of all ages and social backgrounds.


A Bright Future for CCILSA

Under Manuela’s leadership, CCILSA is poised for a promising future. The recent networking event was just the beginning of what promises to be a year filled with dynamic initiatives and opportunities to expand the chamber’s member list. The CCILSA board will convene in mid-September to outline their plans for the upcoming year of 2024, setting the stage for an exciting period of growth and collaboration.
While the recent networking event was the first of its kind, CCILSA has ambitious plans for the future. The chamber is actively considering hosting a second event, this time in the Lisbon area, in late September / early October. Additionally, CCILSA is gearing up for a festive Christmas gala in December, in hopes of bringing together its members and partners in a compelling celebration of unity and partnership.
A Resounding Success: The Networking Event
The inaugural networking event held by CCILSA proved to be a resounding success, drawing approximately 80 attendees from diverse backgrounds. Notable figures like the British Vice-Consul, Clive Jewell, and the South African ambassador to Portugal, Ambassador Mmamokwena Gaoretelelwe, were present to mark the occasion.
Ambassador Gaoretelelwe delivered an inspiring speech, urging business owners to foster trade relations between Portugal and South Africa. She expressed the full support of the South African Embassy in Portugal for CCILSA and its members, further highlighting the importance of such chambers of commerce in strengthening international ties.
Two main sponsors, Quinta do Barranco Longo, renowned wine producers, and Currencies Direct, a foreign exchange (FX) company, played pivotal roles in making the event a success. Quinta do Barranco Longo provided exceptional Algarvian wines, while Currencies Direct delighted attendees with delectable finger foods.
The Portugal News, the largest English-speaking newspaper in Portugal, also contributed to the event by distributing a bag filled with reading materials and other items. This gesture underscored the importance of information sharing and community support.


Community Building and Collaboration


A Diverse and Vibrant Community: CCILSA’s Networking Event Attendees
The networking event hosted by CCILSA brought together a captivating mix of individuals, each with their unique stories, backgrounds, and aspirations. Attendees encompassed a broad spectrum, ranging from seasoned business owners to private individuals who have recently relocated from South Africa to Portugal.

  1. Business Owners: Among the attendees were established business owners, both Portuguese and South African, who have a keen interest in fostering cross-border trade and collaboration. These entrepreneurs brought with them a wealth of experience, innovative ideas, and a shared commitment to driving economic growth through international partnerships.
  2. Entrepreneurs with Vision: The event also attracted a group of visionary entrepreneurs who are eager to explore new opportunities in the Portuguese market. Their enthusiasm and forward-thinking approach serve as a testament to the allure of Portugal as an attractive destination for investment and business expansion.
  3. Professionals Seeking New Horizons: Portugal has emerged as a popular destination for professionals seeking new horizons and a high quality of life. Attendees included individuals from various professions, such as finance, technology, healthcare, and more. Many of these professionals have recently made the life-changing decision to relocate to Portugal, drawn by its charm, stability, and opportunities.
  4. A Tapestry of Cultures: CCILSA’s networking event showcased the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the South African and Portuguese communities. Attendees hailed from diverse ethnic backgrounds, speaking multiple languages and contributing to the vibrant cultural mosaic that defines both nations.
  5. Strong Ties to South Africa: For those who have recently relocated from South Africa to Portugal, this event served as a bridge connecting their roots with their new home. It provided an opportunity to maintain strong ties to South African culture and heritage while embracing the warmth and hospitality of Portugal.
  6. Fostering Connections: Beyond the formalities of business, the event facilitated personal connections and friendships. Attendees exchanged stories of their journeys, shared experiences of settling in Portugal, and celebrated the spirit of camaraderie that brings people together, transcending geographical boundaries.
    In essence, CCILSA’s networking event was not just a gathering; it was a reflection of the dynamic and inclusive community that the chamber serves. It highlighted the potential for collaboration, the richness of shared experiences, and the commitment to strengthening the bonds between Portugal and South Africa. This diverse and vibrant mix of attendees embodies the spirit of unity and partnership that CCILSA represents, and it sets the stage for a future filled with promising opportunities for commerce, trade, and cultural exchange.
    A Vision for the Future: Strengthening Ties
    During her speech, President Manuela Robinson expressed her gratitude to all attendees and reaffirmed CCILSA’s commitment to serving the best interests of its members. She emphasized the chamber’s focus on networking, mutual support, and the continuous strengthening of the relationship between Portugal and South Africa.
    Manuela highlighted CCILSA’s strategic partnerships with the South African Ambassador to Portugal, the South African Embassy in Portugal, various departments within the Portuguese Government, and other international chambers of commerce. CCILSA is set to participate in an upcoming event in October alongside three other Chambers of Commerce in Portugal, fostering a sense of international camaraderie and collaboration.
    A Commendable South African Ambassador
    The presence of the South African ambassador, Ambassador Mmamokwena Gaoretelelwe, added an extra layer of significance to the event. Ambassador Mmamokwena’s dedication to strengthening diplomatic and economic ties between South Africa and Portugal is commendable. Her insightful speech encouraged attendees to explore new avenues of cooperation and emphasized the vital role of organizations like CCILSA in facilitating trade and cultural exchange.
    President Manuela Robinson echoed the sentiments of all attendees when she expressed her appreciation for Ambassador Mmamokwena’s unwavering support, recognizing her pivotal role in fostering a close-knit community of South Africans in Portugal and strengthening bilateral relations.
    Fostering Commerce and Trade: A Shared Goal
    The presence of Ambassador Mmamokwena highlighted the mutual commitment of Portugal and South Africa to fostering commerce and trade relations. Both nations recognize the tremendous potential for economic collaboration, and CCILSA serves as a vital bridge in this endeavor.
    The event underscored the importance of organizations like CCILSA in creating a conducive environment for businesses to connect, explore opportunities, and thrive in an international context. As President Manuela aptly put it, “We are working hard to achieve all of thisÔÇŽ We are straightening, strengthening, and tightening the ties and relations between the two countries.”
    A Call to Action: Join CCILSA
    Manuela Robinson concluded her speech by passionately encouraging attendees to join CCILSA. She emphasized the benefits of becoming a member, which include access to new revenue streams, expanded networking opportunities, avenues for business growth, and valuable information and guidance, especially for those relocating to or investing in Portugal.
    A Bright Future Ahead
    As CCILSA moves forward, it is poised to continue its journey of strengthening ties between Portugal and South Africa. The chamber offers a platform for collaboration and growth for both business owners and recently relocated South Africans in Portugal
    With Manuela Robinson at the helm, CCILSA is set to become the go-to entity for individuals and businesses with interests in both countries. Her vision, leadership, and dedication to fostering international connections are guiding CCILSA toward a brighter and more prosperous future. The chamber’s commitment to building bridges and creating opportunities ensures that its members and partners will continue to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.

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