GEW 2016 momentum lights the path to GEC 2017 in Johannesburg

GEW 2016 momentum lights the path to GEC 2017 in Johannesburg

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Cyril Ramaphosa

We are now well and truly into the swing of Global Entrepreneurship Week (“GEW”) 2016. There were some powerful words from our Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa on the importance of entrepreneurship to South Africa at the official launch of the South African 2016 GEW in Johannesburg last Friday, with no less than the President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans in attendance. Of particular interest was the Deputy President’s commitment to entrepreneurial skills development being initiated at a young age where he commented: “An education of an entrepreneurial nature where even at school, you have a course of entrepreneurship, that we should reconfigure the curriculum of our education system so that we can imbue young people with entrepreneurial knowledge from a very young age.”  This direction is wholeheartedly supported by the Foundation.

This followed a very successful Cape Town launch of the South African Business Angels Network (SABAN) in Cape Town on the Thursday. The event featured a world class line up of speakers including the key driver of the Turkish Angel Investing community, Baybars Altuntas. Turkey’s angel investing has moved from being almost nonexistent five years ago to now being regarded as one of the most vibrant in the world where angel investors are registered with the local stock exchange and investors are eligible for a tax deduction of up to 75% on their investments.

Just as we were recovering from all this activity, yesterday brought the launch of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), a much more holistic measure of entrepreneurial activity including both individual and institutional measures. Unsurprisingly USA was top of the index. Again South Africa is scored as one of the top countries across Africa – a very different result to other entrepreneurial measures. (We will cover the GEI 2017 in more detail in a post later this year.) The Foundation has been involved in research to be released next year that will take a deeper look at the results of this index over the last 10 years to give a much fuller indication of the possibilities and challenges of the South African entrepreneurship ecosystem.

All of this is taking place against a growing sense of momentum for entrepreneurship in South Africa with the explosion of new accelerators and the launch by the CEO’s Initiative SME workstream of the SA SME Fund, with an initial commitment of R1.5 billion to list just two developments. This momentum can be fast tracked even further by taking full advantage of the once in a generation opportunity next year for the South African entrepreneurial ecosystem, when it hosts the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (“GEC”) in Johannesburg from March 13th to 16th, 2017. 

Every year, the GEC gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 160 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. A unique group that will now be coming to our country!  The theme that has been chosen for the GEC 2017 is “digital disruption” opens many possibilities.  The world in which we live has become increasingly virtual as concepts such as “digital disruption” and technology disrupt the traditional ways of doing business and simplifying life. The digital disruption concept aims to explore how technology and digitization are revolutionising industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, education and healthcare.

And finally in amongst your excitement for the GEC next year, please don’t forget to be an active participant in the remainder of GEW 2016. The Foundation has made it easy for you to find the GEW buzz as Allan Gray Fellows have developed a platform, Imbizo Junction where you can find the listing of all events taking place during that week, 14 – 20 November 2016.

We would love to hear your thoughts on the state of the South African entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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