The Southern Africa Initiative of German Business - SAFRI was set up in May 1996 at the suggestion of the then German Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl by the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft, AV), the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der deutschen Industrie, BDI) and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK). The establishment of SAFRI laid a foundation for the political, economic and social cooperation between German business and the SADC region (Southern African Development Community). As of 2013 the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (Bundesverband Großhandel, Außenhandel, Dienstleistungen, BGA) is also one of the four SAFRI supporting organisations.
SAFRI is the voice of German business in dealings with the political community in Germany and in the African partner countries as well as being a forum for formulating and discussing economic policy interests via-à-vis Southern Africa. It strengthens awareness of Africa in Germany and especially in the German business comminity.
The aim of the work of SAFRI is to intensify and shape the content of the cooperation with the Southern Africa countries and to promote trade and investment in both directions. SAFRI supports economic policy development and shapes the framework for relations with Southern Africa. The general strategic principle in times of growing world economic challenges and in view of the increasing importance of the partner countries is to jointly shape the course of change with them through cooperation, dialogue and partnership.
As a joint initiative SAFRI is sustained by the competencies of its supporting organisations and their members.
The German Chambers of Commerce (AHK) for Southern Africa guarantees the local inclusion of entrepreneurial experience.
Basic and advanced training of entrepreneurs and students from Africa
SAFRI additionally is involved in the basic and advanced training of entrepreneurs and students from Africa: the "Journey to Excellence" (J2Ex) project called into being in 1998 promotes entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and regional integration. Target groups are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and institutions that act as multipliers. With the "Students Experience Programme" (STEP) SAFRI offers highly qualified students and university graduates from SADC countries six-month internships at leading companies in Germany. STEP imparts practical work experience as well as international experience in an intercultural environment.