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Why Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Kizito Okechukwu

Kizito Okechukwu | November 8, 2023

GEW 2023 poster

Next week will mark the 16th anniversary of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). Each year, the GEW, powered by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, has been helping millions of people around the world unleash their ideas to start and scale new businesses.

GEW 2023 is a call to action for societies to be resilient and come together to leverage the power of new concepts and innovation for the benefit of all.

Dubbed the largest annual celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation, GEW sees 10 million people in 200 countries gather to build connections and promote their work to their local ecosystems. Startups and SMMEs get to network with each other, and various institutions use the work to provide grant funding through pitches to entrepreneurs. Policymakers also meet to find new ways to support entrepreneurs, while entrepreneur support organisations showcase startups and SMMEs that they have supported throughout the year.

Ultimately, GEW is simply a crucial get-together for entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders to take stock, celebrate and find dynamic ways to ensure the growth and sustainability of the ecosystem.

In addition, many government leaders around the globe rally to better promote entrepreneurs. Just over a year ago, the Prime Minister of Canada issued a statement saying “Entrepreneurs are innovators, risk takers and key drivers of the Canadian economy. They launch startups that bring new ideas to life, invest in our communities and create good paying jobs for Canadians. During Global Entrepreneurship Week, we celebrate the ingenuity and hard work of entrepreneurs and thank them for their important contributions to Canada’s economic prosperity. This week is designed to connect people around the world with the tools and resources they need to engage in entrepreneurial activity, transform their ideas into products and services, and unlock economic opportunities”.

The National Development Plan (NDP) envisaged that by 2030, SMMEs should ideally be creating 90% of employment in South Africa. The recent report by the National Planning Commission shows that this target will not be met. It serves as a call for corporates that want to support the development of startups and SMMEs to come forward and collaborate to ensure that SMMEs are supported to create much needed jobs in the economy.

At 22 On Sloane, this year’s GEW is powered by African Bank, and we have various activities planned with private and public sector partners. These include a fintech hackathon, a policy discussion led by SiModisa, an access to market opportunity session hosted by Black Business Council (BBC) and Absa, an ecosystem day hosted for all the ecosystem players, a local organising committee of the GEC+Africa hosted with various ecosystem players and, to round it off, the Presidential SMME and Cooperatives Awards, hosted by the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) and its agencies. Various other corporates and public sector entities in many parts of South Africa will also host their own activities. On the continent, several activities are planned in all 54 countries.

The Global Entrepreneurship Week will be celebrated from 13-19 November 2023. 22 On Sloane will kick-start its GEW activities with a fintech hackathon from 10th November.

As entrepreneurs around the continent continue to face the challenges of access to funding and markets, as well as effective capacity building interventions, GEW serves as a plea for all organisations to revaluate their support to better assist the entrepreneur at large.

To learn more about the GEW activities in your part of the world, visit: www.genglobal.org, and at 22 On Sloane in Johannesburg, visit: www.22onsloane.co

Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane, Africa’s largest startup campus; and Co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa.

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