SA urged to celebrate entrepreneurial success

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In light of Global Entrepreneurship Week, held annually between the 18th and 24 of November 2013, a more concerted effort should be made to recognise South African entrepreneurs who are making a significant impact on reducing unemployment and stimulating economic activity.

This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, who says in order to strengthen South Africa’s entrepreneurial culture and build a flourishing entrepreneurial community, these individuals should be celebrated.

Botes says that South Africa’s natural resources, as well as developed financial, legal, energy, and transport sectors provide ample opportunities for local entrepreneurs to take advantage of. “The various opportunities available in these sectors has also improved the calibre of entrepreneurs produced in the country.

“Now in our 25th year, the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition has seen a strong year-on-year improvement in the quality of entrepreneurs entering the South African market, as well as a diversification into sectors such as e-commerce, technology, alternative health and entertainment.”

He says that entrepreneurship is the opportunity to take control of one’s own destiny and really make a tangible difference to people’s lives in South Africa by generating employment. This was more than emphasised by the fact that the 14 entrepreneurial finalists from this year’s competition employ over 2000 people.

Botes explains that the 2013 finalists that were selected operate in various sectors, the most prominent being the manufacturing, retail and services sectors. “The entries from the manufacturing sector are particularly encouraging and show that South African entrepreneurs are not afraid to enter this vital job-creation sector, even in the current economic climate.”

Tommy Makhatho, overall winner of the 2013 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, and owner of BiBi Cash & Carry, says that an entrepreneurial culture is important if South Africa wants its youth to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career choice. “To encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs, our country should celebrate the social benefits of entrepreneurship, and ultimately inspire more youth to take it up as an appealing career choice.”

Botes points to the 2013 EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer report, which highlights that while 84% of respondents indicated that raising awareness of entrepreneurs’ role as job creators would significantly improve attitudes and perceptions of entrepreneurship, only 15% believed their country’s culture encouraged entrepreneurship.

The report, which is designed to be an entrepreneurial benchmark, surveyed 1 500 entrepreneurs from the G20 nations, and identifies the various countries’ entrepreneurial growth and performance, as well as opportunities for further development within each nation.

The report also revealed that 70% of the respondents found it difficult to access funding in their country.
From a South African perspective, Makhatho affirms that South African entrepreneurs face many hurdles, the most prominent of which are funding and fear of failure.

“Entrepreneurs who have failed before have been shown to have higher rates of success than first-time entrepreneurs. However, these experiences need to be shared in order to motivate budding entrepreneurs to remain steadfast and not buckle under the pressure.”

Botes adds that in order to reduce the rate of failure which entrepreneurs experience, proper business training and mentorship should be supplied when funding is approved. “By joining existing entrepreneurial networks, first time entrepreneurs have the opportunity to benefit from a wealth of experience and build relationships with experienced role models and advisors. This essentially results in beneficial partnerships which can result in industry growth.”

South Africa was placed in the second quartile of the report in terms of fostering entrepreneurship, amongst countries such as France, Germany and Japan. “This is a great achievement for a developing country such as South Africa. It clearly indicates that our emerging market is gradually closing the gap on economies such as Japan and Europe,” concludes Botes.

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