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La French Tech launches in Johannesburg

La French Tech launches in Johannesburg

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | OCTOBER 14, 2019

Photo: French Ambassador in South Africa, MMC Economic Development City of Johanessburg and Two French Tech Leaders.

Last week, 22 on Sloane start-up campus warmly welcomed the French community to celebrate the launch of La French Tech Johannesburg. Among those in attendance included the French Ambassador to South Africa, Aurelien Lechevallier, the MMC for the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Leah Knot, French tech leaders, Christophe Viarnaud and Antoine Paillusseau, as well as 200 guests.

La French Tech is France’s government-backed, start-up ecosystem initiative and La French Tech Johannesburg will see a new community of Johannesburg start-ups joining a network of over 50 cities around the world supporting tech entrepreneurship. The implementation of La French Tech Johannesburg was due to three very successful years of operation in Cape Town.

Officially launched in 2013, the initiative is to improve the visibility and presence of innovative entrepreneurs in France and abroad, and to enhance the development of coherent start-up ecosystems. In 2018, French tech start-up companies raised more than R58bn with 657 deals (a new record), compared to R9bn and 143 deals in 2013.

Since the selection of Cape Town as one of the 21 international French tech hubs in 2016, the French tech community, with its dozens of South African start-ups led by French nationals, has been very active in South Africa. Through this initiative, France and South Africa are bridging their ecosystems, enabling close collaborations between French and South African entrepreneurs and fruitful business opportunities.

The development of the French tech community in Johannesburg will provide combined support from the French Corporate and Investor Community and will certainly mean more investment from French tech companies in the growing South African digital economy. South Africa is home to over 370 French businesses employing over 65 000 people, the majority of which are in the Gauteng region, the traditional business hub of South Africa and the continent at large.

 

In his address at the launch, Ambassador Lechevallier stated that innovation is a major priority for the French government. President Macron has adopted a strong and ambitious plan of action to help France succeed in being the first innovation ecosystem in Europe in line with its industrial and scientific history. The development of eco-innovation systems is also an important priority of France’s cooperation policy, in particular with the African continent. The Choose Africa programme, announced in March 2019 by President Macron, is a strong signal, with some €2.5bn to be invested on the continent by 2022, including €65mn to support the development of start-ups. The commitment of the French Embassy in South Africa is more than ever part of these priorities. Partnership opportunities are numerous and actions implemented in the areas of digital, artificial intelligence, robotics and, more broadly, technology transfer, meet common challenges on which we will continue to work.

Recently, President Emmanuel Macron announced in a speech ahead of France Digital Day that the French government has convinced institutional investors to invest more heavily in late-stage VC funds and asset managers in one way or another. Institutional investors have committed to investing €5.5bn. The President said that they will have €2bn that will go in so-called late-stage funds and €3bn for funds managed by asset managers specializing in publicly-listed tech companies.

In addition to that financial pledge, the French government wants to break down any hurdle that prevents French start-ups from raising a $100mn+ funding round in France, becoming a unicorn and eventually going public. It is succinctly clear that President Macron believes that start-ups represent a huge opportunity when it comes to job creation, competitiveness and reshaping the economic landscape in France. France continues to position and brand itself as a start-up nation, the ambassador concluded.

It was both an honour and a privilege to host the La French Tech Johannesburg launch and, as a close-knit, like-minded community, 22 on Sloane start-up campus will constantly work with both private and public sectors to create and nurture a strong African start-up culture, develop better support mechanisms for our start-ups, and build an enabling and conducive environment to ensure they thrive, all to position Africa as a powerhouse start-up continent.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Building Africa’s legacy with sustainable businesses and start-ups

Building Africa’s legacy with sustainable businesses and start-ups

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | OCTOBER 7, 2019

Photo :CEO of Helvetas Melchior Lengsfeld (far left) and other speakers at the Helvetas 2019 Symposium for Africa

I was invited by Helvetas to spend last week in Switzerland where I delivered a keynote address on the power of the informal sector to drive job creation and ignite entrepreneurship in Africa. Helvetas is an independent organization for development based in Switzerland with affiliated organizations in Germany and the United States. Helvetas supports poor and disadvantaged women, men and communities in about thirty developing and transition countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

I used the Swiss trip to also explore the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Zurich and Geneva, the Netherlands and Scotland. This included ETH, which is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics institute, as well as the Impact Hub and others. ETH shared some of their successes and collaborations, and how they continue to on-board and support high impact start-ups in Zurich.

Further afield in Aberdeen, Scotland, I learnt more about the power of creating a legacy business, its building processes and systems to ensure its sustainability. My visit to the Glenfiddich Distillery in Aberdeen, where William Grant passionately built what is today a multi-billion-dollar company, was a perfect example of this.

Back to my speech at the Helvetas Symposium in Berne Switzerland. The informal sector remains crucial to drive Africa’s prosperity, given that this sector in sub-Saharan Africa makes up nearly 80% of all employment, according to the International Labour Organization and absorbs many of the continent’s young employment-seekers. Today, there are various industries igniting the power of the informal economy, such as various blue-collar jobs, farming, stokvels, spaza shops, taverns, au-pairs and many more.

Cash continues to fuel this invisible economy, which limits the productivity, growth and development of other sectors, such as micro- and small enterprises. It also makes it difficult to include this economy in any form of official statistics, oversight, taxation and regulation. Many informal traders also struggle to scale due to their lack of financial records, which ensure that they have credit scores, as well as no business advancement strategy, vital to attract investors. Most of those who lose their jobs in advanced economies could be the largest consumers in the informal economy.

 

Growing the informal sector must be our priority and here’s a snapshot of how in my opinion. We need to make access to capital easier, help to improve their skills and educate/inform them on the various tools available (many are free and online) to ensure they have a proper business system, which will allow them to scale.

What’s more, the use of technology and ensuring that infrastructures in which they operate are enabling and empowering is critical. Informal traders should also be given the opportunity to create their own ecosystems, as opposed to nudging them towards big corporate supply chains. Allowing them to operate in this way with various support mechanisms means they can retain their informality and still scale successfully.

Secure pride-of-place for these traders is also important. Maybe they receive title deeds or enter into rental contracts with either the city or the landlords. This peace of mind will help them to think strategically and more long-term.

My visit to Glenfiddich was an inspiring deep dive into what it took William Grant to build his now five generation-strong business. It was passion, vision and big picture thinking that took his company beyond borders. Today, his whisky is consumed in 180 countries and interestingly, the whisky that will be consumed in the next eight to ten years, has already been made. Scotland has also learnt perfectly their competitive edge and cherishes the whisky production with pride. The industry contributes over four billion pounds to the Scottish economy annually.

So, as Africans, how can we build a legacy that will survive and thrive for many generations? How can our entrepreneurial and business role players create their own legacies? How can our leaders leave their various countries far better off than they were?

Africa has many legacy businesses to be proud of, such as Remgro, Pick ‘n Pay, the Dantata family, the Metl Group and Nando’s.

We must also remember that most successful business across the world never started big. They were born in a backyard, a garage or even written on a serviette… the most important thing is to build processes, systems, traditions and legacies that will ensure the sustainability of these businesses into African brands.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Advance Small Local Businesses Rather Than Regulate Foreign Ones

Advance Small Local Businesses Rather Than Regulate Foreign Ones

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

After the recent spates of attacks on foreign and local-owned shops in South Africa, policymakers are now trying to regulate industries in which foreign businesses can or cannot operate.

This is directed mainly at the informal economy and especially in townships. Word on the street is that the Department of Small Business Development will be drafting new laws to restrict foreign-owned businesses from operating in certain sectors and locations, which in their view will help protect local ones.

For most governments, enacting new legislation and regulations is always a knee-jerk reaction whenever and wherever there is a problem. It also vividly reminds me of a school case study we did about Nigeria’s “Ghana Must Go” campaign. Due to the high influx of foreigners into Nigeria, and the perception that they, mainly Ghanaians, were stealing opportunities, the Nigerian government in 1983 quite literally chased out roughly two million undocumented migrants, mostly Ghanaians.

There is now a famous bag in Nigeria labelled “Ghana Must Go” and unbelievably, till today my guess is that it still sells more than Gucci and Louis Vuitton combined. I won’t delve too much into the implications Africa’s most infamous bag had for the oil-rich powerhouse 36 years ago, but it does paint an ugly historical picture, as Shola Lawal put it in his piece in the Mail & Guardian (a must-read by the way). Yet during that period, there were many jobs that Nigerians were not eager or willing to do, which prompted recruiters to employ foreigners, especially Ghanaians.

I will always be the first to defend any African, even to the extent that although the Nigerian government expelled those Ghanaians, its people are not intrinsically xenophobic. The same goes for South Africans today and, having travelled to over 30 African nations and made many friends and acquaintances, I believe no African is xenophobic.

I think the major challenges we face on the continent include severe inequality, poverty, poor leadership and selfish governance, as well as incorrectly tuned mind-sets. The United Nations reports that ten of the world’s most unequal nations are in sub-Saharan Africa, while the World Bank lists South Africa as the most unequal country in the world, mostly attributed to the various injustices of the apartheid era.

Although much has been achieved over the past 25 years of democracy, it has failed to break the divide and ensure a justifiable equal nation – and inequality breeds poverty.

Many African leaders fail dismally in developing their nations and their people, specifically their youth – forcing them to seek shelter and opportunity elsewhere. Think of the many Africans trying to cross the Libyan border to Europe. Many die at sea, many resort to crime just to survive and fend for their family, while others become victim to slavery, human trafficking and other heinous crimes. I read recently that the Rwandan government agreed to accept 30 000 refugees from the Libyan border, a 1000 of which arrived as early as last week. South Africa has also been home to many refugees which also adds pressure to the social services budget.

With all due respect to the late former President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, for his achievements, sacrifices and liberating his country, Professor Jonathan Jansen recently tweeted “an African leader dies in a Singapore hospital. Tells you everything you need to know”. On the flipside, and having chatted to a few Zimbabweans, they attribute their strong education to him and how he infused so many young people with the right mind-sets to succeed.

Someone once said to me that he believes Zimbabweans run some part of the South African economy and some part of the British economy. Whether fact or not, this just shows the skill-sets and hard work ethic of Zimbabweans, but sadly Mugabe’s presidency will be judged by the devastating economic mayhem he caused during the latter years of his governance, seeing doctors having to work as waiters, accountants working as nannies, engineers working as porters and so on.

As South Africa grapples with its inequality challenges, regulating the small business industry – especially in the informal sectors where foreigners can trade – will significantly decrease, if not cripple, township economies.

So let’s think for a moment. Why do policymakers think that foreigners are taking away the township market from locals? Are the locals not the ones that are most likely to receive government grants/support to start a business? Are the locals not the owners of the property in the townships? Are the locals not the ones that have enough buying power to source locally? Are the foreigners not paying rentals for the space? Are they not employing mostly local? The answer is a simple “yes”.

The focus for government should be on how can locals be supported to outsmart the foreign shops – or even just be competitive enough to play in the same space? How can we encourage them to embrace technology to get the edge on their foreign competitors? The challenge I see is lack of access. Due to their informality and lack of credit records etc., lots of small township local businesses fail to access capital from banks and DFIs, some also lack the skills to scale, while some lack the commitment and drive.

This invisible economy is fuelled by cash and is worth over R350bn, yet one that government benefits little from. The percentage of money held outside the banking system should be a concern for policymakers and they should work to incorporate these informal businesses into the formal system. Instead of banning foreign traders, perhaps government should consider taxing them, but not local traders. Government should also look at ways to incentivise only local traders and create meaningful partnerships with companies such as Massmart, Makro and Tiger Brands to create favourable pricing mechanisms for these micro retail chains.

A few local township business owners told me that they enjoy working with the Somalians because they have taught them many skills, such as pricing strategy and bulk buying – even teaming up with them to buy goods in bulk to sell at cheaper rates.

In my view, over-regulating or displacing the informal business sector could leave the door wide open for the big guns to march through, such as Shoprite, Pick ‘n Pay and Spar, etc. with their micro or express shops. This would inadvertently shut down both the local and foreign small business owners.

Government should rather encourage more collaboration between local-owned shops and foreign ones, provide better access to capital for locals, provide skills training, look for innovative ways to get locals to be competitive such as tax exemption, favourable pricing with manufacturers, and lastly, also consider exchange programmes for some local businesses to visit other African countries and learn from their neighbour’s informal market environments.

A former South African MTN executive that was in Dubai recently to host a telecommunication conference said that one of the lessons learnt from Dubai is that it’s

economically healthy to encourage immigrants because they add value where locals can’t or won’t do the jobs.

South Africa should aim to attract more foreign skills and entrepreneurs, as the majority of countries have started to invite and incentivise foreign start-ups to bring their innovative ideas into their nations and set up for business.

To summarize, I think the discussions on regulations should focus on how do we make it easier for locals to thrive; how do we use innovative methods to get locals to outsmart their foreign counterparts; how do we ensure that foreign traders employ more locals; how do we exempt locals from red tape and taxes and how do we get locals and foreigners to collaborate for their better economic good?

Research proves that micro businesses, entrepreneurs and even start-ups, whether local or foreign, are responsible for the most net new job creation and any attempt to stifle or shut them down will have an adverse effect on any economy.

Let’s rather fill the hole in our economic discussions and give hope to the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Bright On Raises R10m In Funding From RMI

Bright On Startup Raises R10m In funding From RMI

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

Photo : Bright On Capital Founder And Co Founder Tsepo Headbush and Koena Headbush
According to a 2018 World Bank report, 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans are unbanked. Financial inclusion remains elusive in Africa and most times access to it for micro, small and medium-sized businesses remain a key challenge for these to scale.

In South Africa, where various studies have identified racial profiling as one of the impediments for the previously disadvantaged, raising funding remains a thorny issue. In 2018, we collaborated with the World Bank to do research on SME finance gaps in South Africa and the result deepened our understanding of the challenges because even though there are so many financial instruments and institutions, access to funding for seed and micro/small enterprises remains limited or tightly wrapped in red tape.

Recently, Bright On raised R10m from Alpha Code, Rand Merchant Investment Holdings’ investment vehicle for high impact start-ups. Bright On is an online peer to peer lending platform that provides affordable working capital for emerging small businesses with growth prospects. It has grown its SME lending book to over R25m and expects the lending book to exceed R50m by early 2020, potentially increasing to R100m in 2021. The Bright On team has grown from its initial two co-founders, Tsepo and Koena Headbush, to six permanent staff.

Start-up entrepreneurs like Tsepo and Koena are always inspiring to watch. Having launched their businesses a few years ago and joining the ecosystem at 22 on Sloane for the past two years, it’s been a proud pleasure to share their story. I believe that all start-ups need is a vibrant ecosystem that provides them both the room and the platform to rise to the next level. Basically, an inspiring space of trusted peers, advisors, mentors and a conducive environment to keep thriving, which I believe we strive to always achieve at 22 on Sloane. Yet Tsepo maintains that “our limited success is your success and I have expressed this sentiment a number of times to a number of people in your team”.

Today at 22 on Sloane, we gathered all our startups to celebrate Tsepo and his team’s extremely motivating journey. At 22 on Sloane, our campus manager often complained that Tsepo always exceeds his monthly hour allocation for meeting rooms, but I guess the proof is in the pudding. We also pay homage to Alpha Code who have entrusted them with the funding to scale and grow their client base.

As the banking trends of consumers continue to change, start-ups in Africa must find new, user-friendly, frictionless and mobile ways to bank the unbanked by exploiting technology. Business opportunities in the fintech space are plentiful and some of the start-ups that have disrupted it in Africa prove that there is more opportunity for new products to serve the African population. Startups such as M-Pesa, Flutterwave, Yoco, Bright On and many more are proof of this.

I have always believed that the goal for startups is to find ways to disrupt the various formal and informal markets, improve user experience, create new economies and ensure access for the previously disadvantaged.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

ABAN & AfriLabs Partner to Launch Catalyst

ABAN & AfriLabs Partner to Launch Catalyst

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019

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ABAN, the largest network of Angel Investors in Africa and AfriLabs, the largest pan-African network of technology and innovation centers, are proud to introduce Catalyst, an initiative to support the African start-up ecosystem and deliver real, measurable impact to stakeholders.

Catalyst is a cross-stakeholder initiative that aims to increase the pool of capital available to promising African growth-stage entrepreneurs, as well as support the startup ecosystem including hubs and angel network. At the same time Catalyst wants to increase the visibility of impact to institutional funders.

Catalyst operates as a co-investment fund that will match investments from qualifying angel investors into African growth-stage companies. Funds from Catalyst will be released after startups have received investments from Angel investors that are part of an angel network registered with ABAN. To be eligible, startups are required to register on the Catalyst platform through hubs that are members of the AfriLabs network. Performance of participating startups after receiving investments will be reported and monitored via the Catalyst platform.

Catalyst is raising funds from various institutional partners to add to a pool. This pool serves as a matching fund to encourage investment in viable startups by verified angel investors. The first Catalyst co-investment fund will be available towards the end of 2019 with a funding partner which will be announced soon. Conversations with additional partners are ongoing.

“When we signed the MOU with AfriLabs at their Annual Gathering in Dar es Salam in 2018, we were excited about the opportunity for partnership between Angels and Hubs on the continent. Catalyst will facilitate the development of those relationships as the first initiative of what we expect to be a highly valuable and long lasting collaboration between AfriLabs and ABAN”. 
Tomi Davies – President of ABAN. 

‘‘We have all recognized the need to increase early stage funding for our African founders. Catalyst not only does that, but it helps to structure the ecosystem, supports collaboration, and provides actionable insights into the early stage funding landscape, all the while strengthening our hubs and our angel networks.  As the first Pan African program of this type, developed by Africans, for Africans, I believe that Catalyst will be a real game changer’’.
Rebecca Enochong – Board Chair of AfriLabs.

To get more information or engage further through Startup funds, kindly contact secretariat@abanangels.org or secretariat@afrilabs.com.  Also, to learn more about African Business Angels Network (ABAN) visit: https://abanangels.org and to learn more about AfriLabs, kindly visit: https://www.afrilabs.com.

To hear more about Catalyst and other exciting developments in the Ecosystem, join us at our AfriLabs Annual Gathering this year at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Registration for the Gathering is still ongoing at: bit.ly/2vMSaQJ.

Ethiopian Airlines has given all AfriLabs Annual Gathering guests a 30% discount on Economy class and a 20% discount on Business class fares. The Promo Code is AAG19 and the Promo link: https://www.ethiopianairlines.com/AA/EN/event?key=AfriLabs-Annual-Gathering-2019.

Also, Kenya Airways has given all  AfriLabs Annual Gathering guests a 30% discount on both Business and Economy class fares. Promo Code is AFRILABS19 and the Promo link: https://www.kenya-airways.com/afrilabs-annual-gathering-2019/.

AfriLabs Foundation is a network of 158 technology and innovation hubs across 45 African countries. We started out in 2011 and work with innovation hubs to build an innovation infrastructure that will encourage the growth of Africa’s knowledge and digital economy, by supporting the development of start-ups, technology, and innovation.

To learn more about AfriLabs, visit www.afrilabs.com. To discuss partnership opportunities, kindly send an email to secretariat@afrilabs.com.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Join us to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Join us to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | SEPTEMBER 09, 2019

The Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life and improve human welfare. For over a decade, the GEW has inspired entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem at large to start and scale, launch new programmes, advance progressive SME policies, run entrepreneurship competitions and even award seed grants to various startups.

Annually, over 173 nations, 10 000 partners and ten million people around the world participate in this much anticipated inspiring event. This year, the GEW will take place from 18-24 November 2019.

22 on Sloane, the headquarters of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa, will be hosting GEW activities from 18-22 November 2019 and we invite private and public sector partners, entrepreneurs and all involved in the entrepreneurial environment to join us.

Our week’s agenda includes: 

Monday 18 November: Agro-processing, Energy, Manufacturing, Water.

Learn from various experts, get informed on the latest industry trends and engage with innovative start-ups.

Tuesday 19 November: Connectivity

Find out more about Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and meet various disruptive start-ups in the tech space, including FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech and InsureTech.

Wednesday 20 November: Mobile Gaming

Discover new trends in the industry, focusing mostly on educational gaming, and engage with various experts and disruptive start-ups.

Friday 22 November: End of Year Celebration.

This by-invite-only event will showcase the various start-ups in the 22 on Sloane network, share plans for 2020, and reflect on and acknowledge the efforts of Africa’s entrepreneurship ecosystem during 2019

Dozens of world leaders support the GEW and this year’s event at 22 on Sloane aims to attract some 1200 delegates, averaging about 300 per day.

In closing, we must never forget or lose sight of the globally-proven fact that entrepreneurs are the backbone of any country’s economy. They are the primary problem-solvers when it comes to eradicating our economic and social challenges.

We encourage all ecosystem stakeholders across South Africa and the continent to also gather their communities and find ways to better support entrepreneurs and keep their spirit strong and their dreams alive.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Response to Minister Tito Mboweni’s Economic Strategy Document

Response to Minister Tito Mboweni’s Economic Strategy Document

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | SEPTEMBER 02, 2019

Source : www.ewn.co.za 

By now, anybody remotely interested in South Africa’s economy will be acutely aware of Treasury’s recently-released draft policy document on an economic strategy for South Africa.

It focuses on economic transformation, inclusive growth and competitiveness, and invites public discussion and input till mid-September.

This past weekend I perused the document, which I thought was well-written and somewhat thought-provoking. Although the information presented are not entirely new, the way it collates our challenges and avenues to redirect our economic path should be lauded. I will share more of my thoughts a bit later below.

I also engaged friends and colleagues – posing the question “what makes an economy competitive and productive?” One response was that an economy is competitive when it takes care of the well-being of its citizens, another was that it is when productivity levels are at their highest.

To push through my stance on this, the World Economic Forum listed Singapore as the most competitive country in the world and I thought in order for us to grasp why, we need to really study the country’s economic make-up.

Singapore prides itself on having some of the best-run SOE’s (arguably now a swearword in South Africa for both economists and the tax-paying public at large) that look at the acquisition of strategic assets and invest in sectors that drive economic growth and human welfare. They also focus keenly on the manufacturing sector, driving chemical exports, electronics, services and many other products.

Minister Tito Mboweni’s document paints a startling picture of South Africa’s dire economy and identifies various ways to turn the tide. Rather than dissect and nit-pick its entire content, I prefer to give my input by focusing on three key areas:

One – The Role of the Private Sector: This is the engine of growth. It provides most of the jobs in developing countries and pays taxes to governments; contributing to some 60-70% of their revenue and also invests heavily in building new industries. The sector’s primary goal is profit and whether we punt themes like shared growth, inclusive value, etc., it will participate in the economy mostly to increase its bottom line. A concern I have is that the document relies too heavily on the private sector capitalist involvement and, due to the historical injustices of the past, it might be difficult to see a way to eradicate inequality and the reach of some critical services to the low income households.

Two – The Role of the Public Sector: This sector is all about creating policies and regulatory frameworks. As the biggest buyer of goods and services in South Africa, public sector must use its financial muscle to define the economic trajectory of the country. It must also shape economic institutions and influence how resources are used and deployed, under constant scrutiny and with utmost transparency and accountability. I still believe that this sector has the intrinsic power to lead South Africa’s development. Although this is evident in the document, the ongoing challenges faced by the various SOEs and government departments distract from driving this home. Public-private partnerships across the world, have proven highly effective in driving economic growth. In 2014, the Australian Government published a paper on economic growth and poverty reduction in the Indo-Pacific region and it elaborates that, Government plays a central role in supporting economic growth and reducing poverty. It needs to provide good policy, strong institutions and efficient public goods and services to ensure the private sector can thrive and the benefits of growth reach all citizens. As well as developing and prosecuting policies which promote growth, governments must also commit to develop and sustain the institutions that implement, oversee and regulate those policies. This is the enabling environment that encourages the private sector to invest. The vast majority of constraints to growth identified by the private sector are directly linked to government decisions and action. Government’s policy and legislative decisions determine to a large degree the scale and quality of economic growth and the private sector’s role in it. The model of an open, export-orientated economy with a flourishing private sector gives developing countries the best chance of increasing prosperity and living standards. The provision of public goods is a key determinant of quality of life for individuals and communities and, hence, the attractiveness of a country to private investment. It is in government’s interest to promote growth that advantages the poor. This not only improves social stability, it increases the capacity of the poor to contribute and thereby further boosts economic growth”.

Three – Role of SMEs: They’re the backbone of any country’s economy. The role of SMEs cannot be seen as a medium term goal as put forward in the document. It must be an immediate goal for the country. The document’s diagnosis on the challenges faced by SMEs are accurate, but a regurgitation of what we already know. A plethora of research reports and our own GEN analysis acknowledge this. Issues like funding for seed and early stage start-ups, a 30% set aside procurement for SMEs by government, late payments and bureaucracies still plague the SME environment and cannot be relegated into medium term goals. The document’s proposed solutions are quite reasonable, but the real challenge remains the implementation. Will the same institutions that exist today be mandated to implement same reform? Are there measures that will be put in place to ensure implementation? Are there repercussions for non-implementation? I agree with the document’s proposed idea of interest as penalty on late payments for SMEs.

In nearly every problematic economic scenario, there will be winners and losers. The fact remains that the country at large will be the ultimate winner if the above three points are taken into careful consideration when implementing the policy document.

Just up the road from us, Nigeria has been plagued by many years of interrupted power supply and there is only one reason why it continues today. The potential losers do not want to back down because having an uninterrupted electricity supply means no more generators, which means the industrialists that manufacture or import generators lose out. Then there’s the petrol/diesel supply part of the equation, in which many top politicians or businessmen are financially invested. Hence Africa’s economic powerhouse (Nigeria) continue to lag because of lack of steady power supply.

The policy document did acknowledge that there could be losers in the process of adopting the document. South Africa must bring its losers to the table and find incentives for them to participate, or else they will derail any economic plan.

In closing, South Africa’s inequality and poverty challenges must be front, and centre of the document and any policy developed for implementation must be aligned to economically rescuing the most poor and vulnerable and creating an equal society. Private sector should also play its part in ensuring better collaboration with startups. Public sector must do more in terms of impactful programmes, technical support and viable funding mechanisms.

Now’s the time to heed the words of the King of Rock ‘n Roll…“A little less conversation, a little more action”

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

A Better Functioning Country Begins With Nation Building

A Better Functioning Country Begins With Nation Building

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 26, 2019

Source : www.brandsouthafrica.co.za 

 

Nation Building is a concept that can mean different things to different societies. This is especially true when the societies have a cauldron of different objectives, languages, cultures and creeds. It is even worse when a country is so fractured and factioned.

Yet with all our differences, Nation Building should just focus on creating a functioning country out of a bad or non-functioning one. Obviously certain basics need to be in place before we start building. These include political stability, a growing – or better still – a thriving economy, employment opportunities, solid infrastructure, low levels of poverty and a workforce that has market-relevant skills to help drive the development trajectory. Last, but by no means least, the economic landscape must be conducive to entrepreneurial empowerment and sustainability, ensuring that commercially-viable ideas get to market and don’t gather dust in some dark basement. Homogeneity is also critical for nation building to succeed. It is difficult where we have so many languages, unequal education and lack of infrastructure in various communities in the continent.

Last week, I was invited by South Korea’s Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Dr. JD Park, to attend his lecture at the University of Pretoria. He addressed an audience of mostly students and spoke passionately about his country’s hugely successful model of Nation Building and Africa’s forgotten mission of Nation Building, highlighting what the continent needs to do to get back on track. In my June 2019 piece, I penned a piece in relation to building model cities for Africa’s growth.

The Ambassador maintains that we must have a strong sense of national identity and a developmental mindset that focuses on one simple, yet highly effective acronym, which is KPOP. Unpacked, it translates into Knowing, Practicing, Owning and Passion, all of which must be fully supported by the state.

Knowing: Knowledge is critical and it involves either theoretical or practical understanding. The problem we have globally could stem from the lack of universal values. We all have these imbedded in us, but most times choose to ignore them. The information and skills, acquired either through our experiences and/or education, are crucial to build a nation and for us, as a people, we must be equipped with the proper values, while our experiences and our environment shape us. Africa survived a rough past of colonization, but it’s in our hands to change the dynamics and the landscape to rebuild our nation. We need to give new knowledge and direction to all of Africa’s people.

Practicing: It is not enough to just acquire knowledge and values. We have to share and practice them constantly – be it at home, in schools or at church, wherever and whenever we can. It can’t just be left to teachers alone to monitor and mould the minds of school kids. Parents also have a huge role to play in ensuring that practice occurs and kids are embedded with usable knowledge. The actual application of knowledge is what Africa needs.

Owning: This includes physical and non-physical. It deals with empowering people to be able to own resources and utilize these to help build the nation. The resources can include knowledge, skills, physical property and even values – which are precious assets.

Passion: We aren’t alone. The world at large faces ongoing and enormous challenges. Now’s the time to stand together as proud Africans. We must have a united passion to build our continent. We must remain hungry, enthused and eager for change. Initiatives such as Proudly African, Proudly South African, Brand Africa, and many more of these are great and citizens of all African countries should be encouraged to be passionate about their country and continent.

The process of the Ambassador’s KPOP model can be reverse engineered if needs be, where we first change the mind-set by ensuring citizens are passionate and then focus on embedding Knowledge, Practicing and Owning.

In closing, we must find ways to homogenise the population by understanding what values, languages and cultures bring us together. Education must also be a cornerstone and Africa should drive wealth creation for all and work as one to rebuild our continent with an inclusive and empowering entrepreneurial mandate, overseen by strong, credible governance and solid, transparent leadership.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Fusing Entrepreneurship with Skills

Fusing Entrepreneurship with Skills

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 19, 2019

Source : www.trainingforce.co.za 

The development of skills is critical for any country to achieve its competitive edge and growth objectives. Earlier this year, a report published an array of skills that are scarce in South Africa. They include, but are not limited to, Networking and Information Security, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Finance and a wide range of ICT skills.

Many of us would argue that how can we have a shortage of skills when many of our graduates cannot find work? The obvious predicament is that are we teaching and equipping our students with the qualifications and skills that an ever-changing market needs – and are our tertiary curricula fast becoming redundant and irrelevant?

Even if so, these days, book-taught and practical skills are just not enough. Interpersonal and entrepreneurship skills are becoming must-haves too. Gone are the days when a company will hire you and molly-coddle you every step of the way, the working environment is just too competitive and jobs are limited. Companies want you to hit the ground running, think on your feet and find new ways of doing things – all for the betterment of the company’s bottom line.

Of course, relevant skills remain a key issue across the globe, especially in South Africa. Many recruiters that I have spoken to, lament on the need to attract not just the right kind of qualification, but the right kind of skill.

Recently, the Minister of Higher Education and Training gazetted the reestablishment of sector education and training authorities within the new SETA landscape. I perused the 24 page document that deals with the main activity descriptions and codes of the various qualifications under the various SETAS.

This was an eye-opener. The number of various job sectors and/or opportunities available to empower the unemployed is staggering. These include fertiliser production, financial administration, forest protection, lumber drying, earth crust drilling and the list just goes on and on…

The question that comes to mind is how can entrepreneurship be fused into all of this?

As a side-bar, a colleague of mine mentioned that the majority of these SETA courses are not new. This got me worried because I started wondering if most young people are even aware of these SETA opportunities that offer a plethora of skills training?

Back to my earlier point. Besides equipping them with skills, we have to make them entrepreneurial in how they deploy and exploit such. They must be confident risk-takers, innovators, disrupters and job creators.

Universities must also focus on building the entrepreneurial spirit and ensuring that students become future-fit and market savvy, after all they have a captive audience of young eager minds willing to contribute to both community and country. In this regard, I often ask my fellow young people what they are doing to achieve such and many do not have any answers.

Fusing entrepreneurship with market-relevant skills is crucial because it will help young people to be creative, confident and assertive with the willingness to learn, persevere and succeed.

Sometimes putting pride aside, being brave and taking a low-paying job just to get a foot in the door to the business arena is a great step towards the bigger picture. It’s better to learn something than nothing. Sadly, many young graduates want to start at the top from the get-go, yet the world doesn’t work that way and it never will.

We will not fix the job issues with qualifications only, skills (entrepreneurial) are very critical.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

The Knock-on Effect of Knock-off Goods

The Knock-on Effect of Knock-off GoodS

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 12, 2019

Source : www.engadget.com

Most of us are probably aware of the recent, somewhat violent clashes that took place between the police and traders of counterfeit goods in the Johannesburg CBD.

Whilst I will never condone the production or selling of counterfeit goods in any way. For me, this environment is riddled with Catch-22’s, especially for the sellers who are just trying to put food on their tables.

Today, every major brand is being knocked-off and there’s always a market for the goods. Take fake replica football jerseys, which look identical to the real expensive ones, yet low/middle income supporters would gladly pay a tenth of the price for a knock-off just to show support their team. Surprisingly, DVD’s are still massive considering Netflix, which is cheaper. Yet we must remember that this consumer base is not as privileged as others with super-fast fibre networks at home. Also, many of our youth idolize celebrities and are quick and eager to snap up a fake pair of Nike sneakers or a Gucci bag that costs next to nothing on the streets. Many even follow these celebrities on Instagram and ensure they match their various wears with knock-off goods.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) and Frontier Economics have conducted studies on the burgeoning counterfeit goods economy. Their analysis shows that the scale of global counterfeiting and piracy shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. They estimate that the value of international and domestic trade in counterfeit and pirated goods in 2013 was US$710 – 917bn. They estimate that, in addition to this, the global value of digital piracy in movies, music and software in 2013 was US$213bn.

The ICC report finds significant effects of fake goods on the job market through the displacement of legitimate economic activity by counterfeiting and piracy. They estimate net job losses in 2013 to be globally between 2 and 2.6 million, and they project net job losses of 4.2 to 5.4 million by 2022. They also estimated the effects of changes in the incidence of counterfeiting and piracy on economic growth. Their econometric model, estimating the impact of changes in the intensity of counterfeiting and piracy on economic growth, suggests that a percentage point reduction in the intensity of counterfeiting and piracy could be worth between US$30bn to US$54bn for the 35 OECD countries.

 

A friend of mine enjoys shopping at local markets and streets when he travels. On one occasion, the seller asked him if he wants the authentic or the fake. He chose the original. One of our start-ups at 22 on Sloane commented that it’s like asking whether you want business or economy class. Personally, I do not think it’s as simple as that, I believe it’s all about value. The subjective theory of value advances the idea that the value of a good is not determined by any inherent property of the good, nor by the amount of labour necessary to produce the good, but instead value is determined by the importance an acting individual places on a good for the achievement of his.

Just last month, one of the most brazen knock-off operations was discovered in Santa Catarina Brazil. The father and son business, labelled as a “clandestine luxury car factory” by investigators, was manufacturing fake Ferraris and Lamborghinis and offering the cars on social media for less than $70,000 – a fraction of the price of the real things. But while exteriors

and logos looked convincing – at least to an untrained eye – the engines came from other vehicles, including a Mitsubishi Eclipse, an Alfa Romeo and a Chevrolet Omega.

At some point in time, we’ve all been exposed to knock-offs. In 2010/2011, the movie The Mechanic featuring Jason Statham (one of my favourite actors) was on circuit, yet to be released in South Africa. I remember a hawker brandishing the DVD for just R10 at a traffic light which I ended up buying. Yet once I started viewing the movie at home, my heart sank. Everything looked fake and I barely got through the first 10minutes of the movie. The next day I went back to the “vendor” and demanded my money back. Am glad I got my 10 bucks back

Bull is an American TV series about the Trial Analysis Corporation, which employs psychology, human intuition and high-tech data to understand jurors, lawyers, witnesses and defendants to construct effective narratives to help their clients win. In one episode, Dr Bull defended a boy who was selling counterfeit goods. He won that case, yet the how and the why the boy started doing so were critical to help acquit him.

In closing, there is no doubt this clandestine market will continue to grow globally. Once there is a demand for a product, the market will be there. Governments across the world need to locate the points of entry for illegal goods and focus specifically on the supply chains and most importantly, the hidden kingpins responsible for the operations, which can compromise any country’s economy. As Jason Statham said in The Mechanic, “What I do requires a certain mind-set. Best jobs are the ones no-one ever knew you were there”. Some of the people that run this economy do not show their faces and I bet some of the countries where these goods come from are the global economic powerhouses. The fake news cycle is a new trend to watch out for!

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Accelerating Efforts to Solve Unemployment Challenges

Accelerating Efforts to Solve Unemployment Challenges

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 5, 2019

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In May this year, I penned a piece on South Africa’s unemployment crisis. If my memory serves me, at that time Statistics South Africa had just released the quarterly unemployment rate – a staggering 27.6%, which shocked us all to the core. Barely two months later, and the number has now ballooned to 29% (although many experts argue that it’s well over 30%).

In my May article, I listed four key points on what we can do to curb this red-alert challenge. I won’t regurgitate all my previous content, just paraphrase the four points, these are:

Advance an open economy to allow new entrants to enter it, easily and quickly without bureaucracy; increase access to strategic resources, as the lack thereof cripples many start-ups and SMEs trying to launch and scale; make empowering start-ups and SMEs a national priority – at this stage, most stakeholders just pay lip service to empowering this sector and not many really understand the intrinsic dynamics of the start-up/SME environment and market; and lastly, develop a clear and coherent understanding of the country’s consumption and production patters (i.e. who buys what, when, where and why) and use this data to create opportunities for new entrants, while advancing the country’s competitive edge.

After watching a recent insert on ENCA, I would also like to add a 5th to this article. Many analysts agree that much of the education system’s content is quickly becoming redundant and not usable or relevant to today’s market characteristics and its job requirement criteria. Stats also show, depressingly, that what most young learners read, they don’t comprehend.

So, once we committedly dive in and address these issues and have the right personnel in place at various Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) and agencies that support small businesses, then we will be a lot closer to eradicating (or even just lessening) our unemployment rate. However, I still stress that we must not ignore and disregard, but rather applaud the various existing government initiatives like the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme, among others. But the reality remains that these are all short-term initiatives and do not directly address the long-term challenges.

For example, just three months ago, a major financial service provider enlisted a few thousand youths to gain hands-on work experience, which was much lauded. Yet, just last two weeks, the same company announced cutting some 1500 jobs. The solution simply lies with a masterfully-crafted strategy for SME support.

Since last week’s justifiable panic and media mayhem, I have read many articles and opinion pieces, watched numerous interviews and attended a plethora of events, most of which professed that doomsday is nigh for South Africa. Even some articles spoke of many investors moving their money offshore.

But amidst this, and being a glass half-full guy, I think of hope, I think of success, I think of opportunities and I believe that if any country can get it right, it’s South Africa.

The reason being, is that our young population remains hungry and eager for a chance, a break so to speak – and they are not lazy, they are desperate for self-worth. I believe our young people do not want to be in the streets. We have a reasonable amount of infrastructure, which is easily upgradeable and there are existing resources available to support SMEs, which can also be increased. Our challenge is how to implement and who must lead this deployment into, and in collaboration with, the various private/public sector agencies and civil society. The deployment of this should be strategic and sustainable.

Over the weekend, I read an interesting opinion piece, authored by Andile Sangqu, the head of Anglo American, in which he listed the Indlulamithi Scenarios for 2030 and I think that it genuinely inspires hope. He wrote, “Using a new barometer that analyses existing datasets, Indlulamithi has now shed light on which scenario the country is most trending towards. And it is clear that if South Africa maintains its current status quo, it’s heading towards the worst-case one”. He mentions that social cohesion must exist amongst us. One of the underpinnings of Indlulamithi is that South Africa’s economic future is inextricably linked to its levels of social cohesion. Social cohesion refers to the degree of social

integration, inclusion and mutual solidarity in communities. As a diverse country with generational burdens of division and inequality, South Africa depends on this cohesion for progress. Without it, any economic development and job creation strategies will flounder.

He continues, “In Gwara, for example, South Africa’s low economic growth is the direct result of poor social capital. In this scenario, weakened leadership capacity causes all-time low levels of trust among fellow South Africans, immigrants, the state and social institutions”.

At this point in time, the country is facing a big trust deficit. We do not trust one another and even those entrusted with resources for programmes or capital to support SMEs do not even trust either the providers of those programmes or the SMEs themselves. We live at a time where we need to rebuild trust and give hope to the hopeless. Hope is crucial to give our dreams a chance.

In ending, I think that the country must create a private lobby group to invite and secure international investment from start-up focused VCs and other financial providers. This initiative is crucial for South African start-ups because right now most of these foreign VC investments are going to Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda, Senegal, Ethiopia, etc. Countries and Institutions with grant funding are now looking elsewhere to deploy these grants. South Africa can no longer afford to miss the boat because there are SMEs that still require this support.

We have the potential and capacity – and it’s right in front of us. I’ve always believed that Africa’s development trajectory must be shaped by South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two economic powerhouses. Yet, I guess other African countries are no longer waiting for anyone to shape their future, they are just doing it themselves. Leaders are waking up to the reality that they must leave a legacy for their children, country and continent. The competition for foreign investments is high and we must compete with 53 other African countries for these resources. I must say, it’s not as easy as it used it to be and the goal post is certainly changing.

As the American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said, “People are better at creating a ceiling for themselves than any outside force”. We must not blame anyone; our challenges can be solved if we do things right and do things together.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more

Why Nations Prosper?

Why Nations Prosper?

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JULY 29, 2019

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The recent release of the South Africa Land Reform report fuels the advancement of property rights as a key enabler for economic development.

The 144-page document, which I am yet to fully peruse, cements the view that economic freedom can only be achieved if we take the issue of land serious and empower citizens with the right to own such. I guess for the next few weeks and months, this topic will be bright in the country’s spotlight.

I’m a big believer that nations prosper for two simple reasons: the right to physical property and the right to intellectual property. I do argue however, that the latter in today’s world is becoming more muddied, given that the environment is now so open space so to speak and does not allow one to exclusively claim ownership of an innovation. Capital will be key in the intellectual property space, because the quicker one gets to market, the more one cements itself as the custodian or leader of that innovation and a better chance of amassing a great market share.

For example, one can easily develop a similar product to that of an existing market player. Uber perfected the ride-sharing model and Taxify (now Bolt), Careem and Lyft etc. quickly jumped on the bandwagon, proof that today it’s difficult to outright “own” an innovation. Intellectual property is deemed a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property and some countries recognize and respect them more so than others. The most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

Last month at a conference in The Hague, I recall listening to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State. He said, first entrepreneurs need the right to private property – both physical property and intellectual property. Without this fundamental right – one that we take for granted too often – I think there’s no incentive to innovate, because there’s no subsequent reward. He added that you don’t have to just take my word for it, Apple’s Steve Jobs agrees and says that “If protection of intellectual property begins to disappear, then creative companies will disappear or frankly just never get started”.

Pompeo went on to say that “Property rights are the bedrock of any successful economy. It’s why the US insists on these protections and in the trade deals that we enter into as we move forward”. I say that the core of intellectual property is how best and quickly you can get to market and monetize it, bearing in mind the constraints of capital availability and timing.

With the disappearance, or rather the difficulty of regulating intellectual property, the physical property right remains something that can be regulated. In the Land Reform report aimed at addressing South Africa’s past injustices, the panel recognises that it’s to restore human dignity and social justice by enabling and resourcing restitution, redistribution and securing tenure in rural and peri-urban areas. A mixed tenure model is proposed, accommodating a continuum of rights from freehold and communal, as well as multilevel ownership arrangements.

The panel supports the position that it is incorrect to view freehold systems of tenure and common property systems as opposites of one another, and the assumption that freehold systems of property are the only forms of tenure amenable to capital investment growth. To this end, the panel has advised on an immediate process of record of rights in rural and per-urban areas with legislative amendments to accommodate forms of collective ownership as currently only freehold is accommodated by Registry. This galvanised for the recommendation to establish Land Administration as the fourth pillar of Land Reform (Restitution, Redistribution and Tenure being the other pillars).

In their piece in 2003, Gerald Driscoll Jr. and Lee Hoskins wrote that prosperity and property rights are inextricably linked. The importance of having well-defined and strongly protected property rights is now widely recognized among economists and policymakers. A private property system gives individuals the exclusive right to use their resources as they see fit. That dominion over what is theirs leads property users to take full account of all the benefits and costs of employing those resources in a particular manner. The process of weighing costs and benefits produces what economists call efficient outcomes. That translates into higher standards of living for all (particularly relevant to South Africa I thought). The excuses for development failure are legion: lack of natural resources; insufficient funding of education, culture, religion, and history; and, recently, geographical location.

Perhaps I argue that getting the physical property right correct could alleviate the government from the burdensome task of building Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses for its citizens. Many citizens could take up that task themselves with greater dignity.

As Friedrich Hayek, a Nobel laureate in economics, taught us in another context, we cannot explain success by examining failure: “Before we can explain why people commit mistakes, we must first explain why they should ever be right.”

So how can nations prosper? I argue that the difference between prosperity and poverty is property. Nations prosper when private property rights are well-defined and enforced.

I have personally witnessed how wealth is created, thanks to property rights. Nonhlanla and Simba, a few friends of mine, founded Urban Grown and are now farming products on their 10ha land, such as baby marrows, tomatoes, lettuce and many others for both local consumption and export.

Intellectual and private property rights are vital for economic development and entrepreneurs with these rights must be supported with access to capital and expedient processes to get them to market.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019

The theme of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019 is centralized around the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) which the globe is moving towards. Building capabilities may be a requirement for growing economic aggressiveness or effectively applying technologies to fulfil human development aims. Businesses are great platforms for change and each leader can have a direct role in creating economic opportunities for people by investing in education and training programmes for existing and potential 4IR talent

read more
The Growth Challenge Launch

The Growth Challenge Launch

The Gen Africa Growth Challenge will be launched on the 14th November 2019 at 22 On Sloane. This Growth Challenge aims to cultivate; resiliency, a thoughtful long-term approach; mirror market challenges; lastly to acknowledge and celebrate positive performance.

read more