Government committed to supporting innovators

Monday, November 12, 2018

Government will strengthen its capacity to support innovation because it is the backbone of competitiveness and sustainable economic development, says Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu.

“Creating more innovators in our country will place us in a better position to add value to the needs and expectations of customers, resulting in wealth creation by innovators,” Zulu said on Monday in Johannesburg.

Addressing the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Minister said government is committed to supporting small and medium enterprises, to build their capacity and leverage national, regional and global value chains.

The launch was held in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

“As we seek to inculcate a new entrepreneurial culture in our society, we must ensure that our people understand that they are not destined to be job seekers, but that they can be job creators,” Zulu said

The culture of entrepreneurship is growing in sub-Saharan Africa, with indicators related to entrepreneurial motivation on par with or higher than global peers.

“In South Africa, however, although our entrepreneurial activity is improving, it still lags behind other parts of the world,” Zulu said.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017/2018 report, total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in South Africa is at 11%, 4.1 percentage points higher compared to 2016’s score of 6.9%. This is an indication of an improvement on this index.

Entrepreneurial intentions has also increased in the last few years to 11.7% up from 10.1% in 2016/2017.

“As government, we remain open and receptive to new policy ideas that will help accelerate the formation of new businesses and sustainability of existing one,” Zulu said.

She said building a truly competitive entrepreneurship ecosystem requires an environment where businesses operate on a level playing field, where their rights are protected, and the same rules apply to all.

“However, the reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all template for building such ecosystems. Each country must find its own unique approach to reform. This requires an open and democratic dialogue where policymakers and entrepreneurs come together to discuss barriers and find solutions,” the Minister said.

SA home to Africa’s largest start-up campus

Speaking on Africa’s largest start-up campus, located in Bryanston, Johannesburg, GEN Africa Co-Chair Kizito Okechukwu said in January the campus had 87 start-up companies.

“We are currently sitting with 67 start-ups and their combined revenue is a total of R72.5 million,” Okechukwu said.

The age profile of the people who use the campus are you young people between the ages of 25 - 34 years of age.

Okechukwu said 70% of the start-ups are in the technology sector.

The start-up campus offers disruptive start-ups and innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets.

It is aimed at nurturing the entrepreneurial mind-set, ensuring their sustainability and exploring development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.

Microsoft Director Public Sector Lilian Barnard said by 2020 about 80% of the jobs will require young people to have some form of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

She said STEM education was needed to enable young people to have opportunities in the digital economy.

“This is how you start preparing young people for the place of work and the world of tomorrow. Opportunities will be available but the problem is are we going to be able to fill the gap and take advantage of the digital economy,” Barnard said.

She emphasised the importance of companies becoming more flexible and agile in an effort to cater for young people in the work place.

“Youngsters leave organisations because we are not agile enough or we have not transformed, as much as we give them the technology they need, often company culture is not conducive for them to thrive.

“More young people prefer to be freelancers. Youngsters are telling us they don’t want to do a ‘nine to five’, so you can no longer lure them with perks. Nowadays young people are looking for a place that has some degree of freedom,” Barnard said. –