South African mission to Italy

The September 2023 business mission to Italy, of which the delegation consisted of Mr. Errol Gradwell, Global Commercial Director for Roncucci & Partners and Ms. Rokshana Gradwell, Legal Advisor for Gradwell and Roncucci (Pty) Ltd, was indeed a great success! It has varied from high profile engagements to social gatherings with ordinary Italians in terms of their lifestyle. However, the success of the trip, according to Mr. Errol Gradwell, the Global Commercial Director of Roncucci & Partners, lies in the fact that “we could revive business relationships that existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and foster new very exciting ventures”. The focal point in terms of economic sectors were fashion, textile, health, energy and water, agro-processing, and finance.

One of the exciting new ventures is the Memorandum of Agreement signed between Gradwell and Roncucci (Pty) Ltd, the South African partner to Roncucci & Partners Srl, and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI). This Agreement formalises the strategic partnership between the two Parties and provides the platform for trade between South Africa and Italy on the one hand as well providing support for innovation to the companies they represent.

Focus on the Fashion Industry

Regarding the fashion sector, and thanks to Ms. Stella Occhialini, Director for Internationalisation at Roncucci&Partners, we’ve had the opportunity to travel to Centergross, the prime clothing manufacturing district outside Bologna. Centergross is the most prestigious European trading district and is recognised worldwide for the excellence of products made in Italy. The District comprises over one million square metres, 400 000m2 of display space and 100 000m2 of offices, hosting 683 businesses with a workforce of approximately 6000 people. The District boasts a total annual turnover of 5 billion euros, from within Italy and from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and America. Because we, the South African partner company of Roncucci & Partners, intends to introduce Africa to the fold, they had the opportunity to get introduced to world-class brands such as Angela Davis, Kaos, Brena, Maestrani, Stilisofy, Vicolo, etc.

On another occasion, Ms. Stella Occhialini introduced us to Ms. Barbara Bellini, from BVM Shoes, who came to display their very impressive products to us. BVM Shoes is a footwear manufacturing company that provides shoes for men and women. Based in Monte San Giusto, Marche, this successful family business has regional offices in the European Union, the Middle East, and Africa. It is the intention of the visit to expand these operations and markets to Sub-Saharan Africa in the shortest space of time. The BVM products are well aligned with fashion trends in South Africa and Africa and will therefore do extremely well in this part of the globe.  We are in the process of engaging each other so we could optimise this very exciting Italian/South African business opportunity.

Stella Occhialini, Rokshana Gradwell

Focus on the Textile Industry

In terms of the textile sector, Mr. Federico Rubini, Project Manager at Roncucci & Partners, drove us to Bergamo, Lombardy, to visit plants where manufacturing machinery are produced. Since 1977 IMA has been producing technological solutions dedicated to the Cutting Room, improving every production stage. IMA’s broad focus is integrated cutting room solutions, fully Italian products, and worldwide distribution. More specifically, IMA is specialising in design and development, loaders, tables, spreading machines labellers, and automatic Cutting Machines. Meeting the President of IMA, Ms. Mirella Sardini, in person was an honour to Mr. Errol Gradwell, who is also Managing Director of Gradwell and Roncucci (Pty) Ltd in South Africa. “I was particularly impressed by her humility being the owner of this prestigious global outfit, yet her strength in the knowledge of her sector; her kindness as a human being, yet her boldness as a businesswoman”. IMA has a strong global footprint, and the intention is for Roncucci&Partners to assist to introduce these high-end machinery and equipment to the rest of the world.

Another manufacturing plant in the textile sector that was visited in Bergamo was FKgroup, a reference point for cutting room analysis, design, and automation since 1961. FKgroup doesn’t only supply machines and accessories, it is a technological partner that can help customers identify the best solutions based on their production needs. Globally, FKgroup has installed more than 10 000 production systems: cutting machines, spreaders, and CAD software, and it also guarantees a high quality after-sales service. After meeting with Errol Gradwell and Federico Rubini (Senior Project Manager at Roncucci & Partners), Kevin Cipriano, (Export Sales Manager at FKgroup) was excited to do business with and through Roncucci&Partners in the countries where we have a footprint.

Focus on the Health Sector

As far as the health sector is concerned, through the hard work of Ms. Ailar Jabarri, Junior Project Manager, and Mr. Gabriele Anzalone, Director of Management Consulting, Roncucci&Partners are in the process of embarking on a rigorous health initiative with Italian and African role players. The design and development will take place at the headquarters in Bologna and the execution in the targeted continent – in this case Africa, and India thereafter. Discussions with Intersos, a Non-governmental organisation operating in Africa as well as esteemed health scientists in South Africa are in advanced stages.

Focus on Energy and Water Sector

The energy and water sector has been an area of focus between South Africa and Italy for the past 10 years. Due to the work done by Mr. Giovanni Roncucci, Chairman of Roncucci&Partners, and Mr. Errol Gradwell (also the two Co-Chairpersons), the launch of the Green Action Platform in 2018 (both in Bologna and Johannesburg) formalised the initiative, but COVID-19 has placed a hold on it. One of the reasons for the September 2023 visit to Italy was to revitalise the Agreements signed by Italy and South Africa, as well as the Emilia Romagna Region and the Gauteng Province and Northern Cape Province respectively in South Africa. At the core of these Agreements are the prospects to aid in enhancing smart solutions in the areas of energy and water. The kind reception of Mr. Adriano Gilli, Manager of the Regional Department for Attractiveness, Internationalisation and Research in the Emilia Romagna Regional Administration, was welcomed and his understanding of the economics of South Africa is commendable.

One of the companies that made presentations to the delegation is MTM Energia. A company specialising in building cogeneration plants, with 10 years’ experience, the real strength is customisation: each system is designed to meet the needs of the end-user, maximising integration between the cogeneration plant and the plant and/or process for which it has been designed. Mr. Gradwell indicated that “with South Africa’s energy crises, what is crucial is that since so much is happening in the scramble of solutions in energy generation in South Africa, the unique solution of improving energy efficiency of MTM Energia drew his attention”.

Focus on Agro-Processing Sector

Regarding the agro-processing sector, Italy has done much to develop and digitalise its agricultural activities. Since South Africa and Africa is strong on commodities in this sector, there are a lot of synergies in this regard. Ongoing exploration of agro-processing solutions will take these discussions to greater heights.

Focus on Financial Sector

As far as the financial sector is concerned, discussions with EXETRA, a member of the Intesa San Paulo Group, has been deepened in Milan. The delegation, led by Giovanni Roncucci, was met, and hosted by Mr. Luca Morgera, the General Manager, and further engaged by Mr. Alessandro Panico, responsible for sales.

Engagements regarding Sustainable International Development

Other important engagements regarding sustainable international development opportunities were held with:

  • Luigi Belvederi, the Honorary Consul of South Africa to Bologna – based in Bologna.

In this meeting the delegation was welcomed warmly by the Honorary Consul. The outcome of the meeting was that the two parties will do much work to advance trade and business activities between South Africa and Italy.

  • Carlo de Simone, Head of International Development of SIMEST – based in Rome.

The new Head of International Development of SIMEST, Mr. Carlo de Simone reflected on the objectives SIMEST seeks to achieve globally. Synergies were identified and Mr. Gradwell and Mr. De Simone agreed to engaging further in the months to come.

  • Chiara Fanali, Director of International Affairs and Foreign Trade Development of Assolombarda – based in Milan.

After healthy and promising deliberations, the meeting emerged with a resolution that the food processing, and energy and water sectors will be prioritised. To fast track this, two projects will be developed with the most suitable Italian and South African companies to collaborate on.

Strategic and prestigious events

Strategic and prestigious events attended by the Delegation were:

  • The Inauguration of the Dubai International Chamber in Milan

The Dubai International Chamber was inaugurated on Thursday, September 7, 2023. The occasion was graced by the Vice-President for Global Markets, Dubai International Chamber, Mr. Salem Al Shamsi. The key goals and objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) were well presented by the Regional Director for Europe and the Americas, Ms. Noora Al Suwaidi.

  • The FARETE in Bologna

The delegation also attended the Emilia FARETE. Thanks to Ms. Morena Fiorentini, the Head of International Business Development, Emilia Romagna Region, the delegation had promising interactions with especially the international exhibitors from South Africa, India, China, and the USA.


Errol Gradwell


At Roncucci&Partners we help companies develop themselves and their business, embrace change and evolve to thrive in a world that is increasingly complicated, insidious and requires great expertise. We do this by applying punctual methods and rigorous strategies, the result of many years of experience and the richness of the numerous success stories we have conducted all over the world. Passion and method are indeed our guides to enhance the present and build the future.

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