Joburg chosen to host 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress

panelists at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress media launch discuss the event’s benefits for local entrepreneurs

14th August 2015

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia


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Johannesburg has been chosen to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in March 2017 – a first for Africa – which will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers to foster entrepreneurship worldwide as a tool for development.

This was officially announced at the launch of GEC 2017, in Sandton, last month.

The GEC aims to map out entrepreneurial ecosystems, share new developments in start-up financing and connect entrepreneurs to the best resources and networks, as well as identify emerging entrepreneurial hot spots and global expansion of the producer movement.

The GEC was initiated by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) – a
year-round platform of programmes and initiatives created by communities that celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week every November.

Speaking at the launch, City of Johannesburg economic development member of the mayoral committee Ruby Mathang said that, by hosting GEC 2017, South Africa would have the opportunity to showcase its entrepreneurial capacity to the world.

“South Africa will also get to show, yet again, why it is the leading host city of world congresses and business leaders. Johannesburg has world-class infrastructure to support hosting a world congress and its guests,” he said.

A partnership between the Department of Small Business Development, the City of Johannesburg, banking and financial services company Barclays Africa and research and development firm Sustainable Entrepreneur Accelerator (SEA) Africa secured the bid to host the congress.

Johannesburg will co-host the event with SEA Africa as the local member and host of the GEN.

At least 5 000 people from 157 countries are expected to attend the congress.

SEA Africa executive head Kizito Okechukwu said during the launch that the GEC would assist businesses and promote entrepreneurship across Africa.

“We are, therefore, calling on entrepreneurs to leverage from various support structures and programmes being introduced by various partners. We are expecting leading global entrepreneurs and innovators to grace this occasion,” he said.

Further, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said during the launch that government was certain that GEC 2017 would help sustain momentum in creating an entrepreneurial revolution, which was signalled when President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of this Ministerial portfolio last year.

“I am confident that GEC 2017 will further thrust entrepreneurship and small business development firmly onto the national agenda and into the collective consciousness of our nation. Our government has placed small businesses and cooperatives at the centre stage of our national effort to banish poverty and reduce inequality,” she said.

Her department was determined to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the GEC was a success and that it benefited entrepreneurs in South Africa and Africa, she added.

Okechukwu said winning the bid was testament to the successful collaboration between the public and private sectors, which, he emphasised, was vital to building sustainable ecosystems for entrepreneurial growth in Africa.

In the build-up to the event, Barclays is planning several activities that support entrepreneurship on the continent, such as creating a platform for African entrepreneurs to engage with one another.

Barclays Africa retail and business banking CEO Jan Moganwa told Engineering News that, although local entrepreneurs were dealing with what they believed to be unique challenges, these challenges were the same as those faced by entrepreneurs worldwide, such as managing a business and having access to funding and markets.

“We think that being around other entrepreneurs and sharing ideas on how to deal with challenges will be a great opportunity for South African entrepreneurs, as well as for entrepreneurs from the African continent,” said Moganwa.

Regulation, he added, was also a cause for concern because it sometimes hindered business. Mathang agreed, stating that government was working closely with entrepreneurs on regulation to facilitate ease of doing business.

Government is also working with entrepreneurs on issues such as providing public transport and upgrading old infrastructure to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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