Prominent business and investment leaders took to the Great Hall stage for two days earlier this week.

Students and members of the financial industry discussed issues and opportunities facing investment professionals and the corporate world at the forum of the Association for Black Securities and Investments Professionals (Absip) themed Awakening Investment Potential.

Speakers included former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Arcelor Mittal CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita; Google SA country manager Luke Mckend; World Bank lead private sector development specialist Chunlin Zhang; Murray & Roberts CEO Lesley Mosimang and SAB Miller CEO Graham Mackay.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan attracted a large audience for his talk. He jokingly asked why students were holding an investment conference when none of them wore Gucci suits.

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan speaks to students during the two-day Absip Investment Forum Photo: Tshepo Tshabalala

He said we need to create an environment where small business can flourish.

Gordhan also echoed government’s sentiments on the nationalisation of mines. “From the president down we have been saying that nationalisation of mines is not a government policy.”

He said All South Africans have an important contribution to make to “create the right climate for our economy to grow and for our economy to grow in a way in which all our people benefit”.

“We can’t grow as an economy compared to 10 and 15 years ago because the current generation of 5-million youths has no jobs, are lacking skills, and are without university degrees.”

Gordhan said government needs to redefine the target of growing the economy by 7% a year.

“It’s important to set the right aspirations for South Africa and to make sure our economy becomes globally competitive,” he said. “Investment is crucial for economic growth,” Gordhan said, adding that the youth had a pivotal role to play.