They blew through Lima like a fresh sea breeze: driven, making an impact wherever they went. These are South African ladies that were past and are present awardees and mentors of the International Women Entrepreneur’s Challenge (IWEC). As this was my first encounter with IWEC, I was more than curious – I was interested in meeting successful women entrepreneurs of different ages and races, active in a variety of sectors, often traditionally reserved for men. What struck me most was their self-confidence and business acumen.  I was proudly South African when awardees  Renee Keeble,  Nonku Ntshona and Ferose Oaten received their awards, cheered on by a score of past awardees.

It was the Embassy’s pleasure to host a briefing session with the able assistance of the Lima Chamber of Commerce. It may have been a pleasant surprise to hear that Peru has been showing consistent growth for more than ten years, with the official figure for 2012 on 6,3 %. The construction industry is booming, car sales are high and opportunities abound.  95 % of Peruvian trade is covered by Free Trade Agreements so the economy is wide open.  Some of the sectors that may interest South Africans are mining and related capital goods, agro processing, wine and liquor, Jewellery (including precious stones), cosmetic products and salons (worth billions), fitness and sport.  Peru is currently hosting the Bolivarian games and will host the Pan American Games in 2019 with much of the infrastructure yet to be built. Tourism is a fast growing industry, although the regions still lack hotels and infrastructure.  Arequipa, for instance, will for the foreseeable future be the host city for Perumin (billed to be the largest mining expo in the world), but it lacks hotels and infrastructure. Peru is also positioning itself to increasingly host events of scale, such as COP20 in 2014. The culinary arts are flourishing and enjoying international recognition, with the growing middle class being able to spend on good food and wine.  Department stores and supermarkets are predominantly Chilean, lacking variety of consumer goods.

Finally, there is respect for South African technology, but we have been absent from the market here for some years and would need to make an effort to gain market share.

The Embassy was absolutely delighted to support our women entrepreneurs during their visit to Lima and will welcome them back at any time.

In 2014 we shall be celebrating 20 years of democracy and 20 years of diplomatic relations with Peru.

All the best    

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