independent NON‑EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited is well positioned for further growth.

Reverend Dr Vukile Charles Mehana

Non-executive chairman

Dear Shareholder

It has been another milestone year in the history of African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited (AEEI). AEEI has flourished over this past financial year by surpassing its goals for the year, receiving recognition and acknowledgement for its leadership style and management control, maintaining its B‑BBEE status, improving its financial performance, practising good corporate governance and by upholding its reporting structures.

I must admit that our operating environment has been exceptionally tough this year. However, I will err on the side of optimism by predicting that the impact of the economic downturn, the irregular weather patterns as well as the societal and political volatility in South Africa will reach an even keel over the next year or two.

I believe that one’s team takes its lead from the top and that by being optimistic, one is able to act as a guide through stormy situations and have the utmost confidence that there will be an upturn in the near future.

OUR PERFORMANCE

AEEI’s resilience amid uncertainty stands testament to its value system and work ethic that has stood the test of time for 18 years. Upon reflection of the past year, I would like to highlight the following:

  • The Group delivered excellent results for the financial year ended 31 August 2017 as a result of strong contributions from all its underlying operations and strategic investments for the year. The consistent increase in earnings and asset growth during these turbulent times demonstrates just how resilient and flexible our business model is.
  • AEEI received acknowledgement from its peers for its BEE rating, good corporate governance and reporting, as well as for its financial performance.
  • The Group’s CEO, Khalid Abdulla, was acknowledged for his leadership skills and management style through various awards.
  • Premier Fishing and Brands Ltd listed successfully on the main board of the JSE.
  • AEEI acquired equity in three companies, which will facilitate sustainability and growth in the short to long term.
  • The listing of the technology division AYO Technology Solutions Ltd, formerly known as Sekunjalo Technology Solutions Ltd, is imminent.

VISION 2020 VISION

A key feature of our 2017 financial year is the significant progress we have made in executing our Vision 2020 Vision strategy, which is to become the leading diversified company that creates superior stakeholder value and empowers people through profits and performance.

Our 2017 performance demonstrates how successfully the broader Group rallied together to drive continuous optimisation and efficiency in our operations, while growing sustainable cash flow and value for our stakeholders.

Our Vision 2020 Vision strategy is underpinned by our diverse portfolio and is reflected in our results. This growth strategy has laid a strong foundation for the next phase of the Group’s evolution.

We now have a more diversified portfolio that reduces risk exposure while securing access to distribution channels both nationally and internationally and creates further value for our stakeholders.

TRANSFORMATION at AEEI

Diversity and inclusion at all levels of the business are essential to the sustainability of AEEI.

I am delighted to mention that we continue to maintain our focus on B-BBEE and transformation in accordance with the new codes.

During the year, we renewed our focus on developing critical skills and leadership capabilities as key enablers of building a resilient organisation for the future. We continued to invest in study and learning programmes, which include leadership, career and succession development plans.

In order to secure a pipeline of future experienced talent, we invested significantly in skills development and training, which ranged from basic literacy and health and safety training to upskilling our professionals to remain on the top of their game.

The empowerment of women remains a major focus area and our skills development programmes are designed to secure the critical and scarce skills required to operate our divisions and deliver on our long-term growth ambitions.

I am proud to announce that we are continually increasing the number of women employed throughout our Group – not only at the Group’s foundation, but also in executive positions. On another transformation-related note, we recognise that it is imperative to continue with the adequate upskilling of our people and communities through skills development and training programmes.

AEEI’s culture is underpinned by our values, which are essential to support us in achieving our goals and transformation aspirations. To this end, we will continue to further embed the behaviours that support our transformation objectives in all of our divisions.

OUR EMPLOYEES

Our employees are fundamental to the success of the Group and I have to acknowledge that it is because of the resilience and diligence of our values-driven, high-performing employees that we are able to create value for all our stakeholders.

SUSTAINABILITY AT AEEI

At AEEI, we are cognisant of our material sustainability focus areas and their impact on our stakeholders.


Read the material areas of sustainability for in-depth details of these focus areas.

Stakeholder engagement at AEEI is supported by transparent and effective communication, mutually beneficial outcomes where possible, as well as inclusiveness and integrity. We participate in initiatives that inform and affirm a best practice approach in the areas of sustainability and social impact. We actively engage with our stakeholders so that the best possible outcomes may be achieved.

GOVERNANCE AT AEEI

The Board strives to ensure that AEEI is governed effectively, with integrity and in accordance with sound corporate governance practices.


Read more about this in the statement of commitment.

The Group’s policies, practices and charters are updated regularly to remain compliant with the relevant laws, rules, regulations, codes and standards that include, but not limited to the JSE Listings Requirements. We have also embraced the inclusion of King IVTM in all applicable areas.


More information can be found in the application of and approach to King IVTM.

SINCERE APPRECIATION

It is with sincere appreciation that I thank all of our shareholders for their unwavering support of and confidence in me as the non-executive chairman of the Board. Not only do they have confidence in me, but they also believe in the efficacy of the leadership teams that have remained steadfast in their implementation of our growth strategy and value creation.

I would like to recognise the support and contribution of my fellow Board colleagues who have willingly and without prejudice, contributed their collective skills and experience during the year.

Hearty congratulations are owing to Khalid Abdulla who received several accolades in recognition of his leadership, skills and insight as well as his commitment to realising the potential of our Group. A special word of thanks goes to the executive management teams and all our employees in the Group without whom we could not have achieved such positive growth.

I look forward to chairing the Board throughout AEEI’s next exciting growth phase.

Dankie baie.

Reverend Dr Vukile Charles Mehana

Independent non-executive chairman

“Greater transparency is an unstoppable force. It is the product of growing demands from everybody with an interest in any corporation – its stakeholder web – and of rapid technological change, above all the spread of the Internet, that makes it far easier for firms to supply information, and harder for them to keep secrets. Firms now know that their internal e-mails may one day become public knowledge, for instance, and many big companies must co-exist with independent websites where employees can meet anonymously to air their grievances. With greater transparency will come greater accountability and better corporate behaviour. Rather than engage in futile resistance to it, firms should actively embrace transparency and rethink their values and generally get in better shape.”

Don Tapscott, co-author The Naked Corporation