By Mike Anderson, founder and CEO of the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC)
2016 has proved challenging for South Africa and just when we thought our woes could not get worse, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rated us as the third-largest economy on the continent behind Egypt and Nigeria. This is the first time we have slipped to third, having been second to Nigeria since 2014. While we remain the most developed economy on the continent, a fall to third further exasperates the already widely known problem that the South African economy is in trouble. In addition, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) almost predicted our fall when it reported an overwhelming 34% drop in entrepreneurship from 10,6% to 7% in 2014.
The concern and relevance of both the IMF’s findings and GEM’s report is that the one formidable way that South Africa can stimulate its economy is by nurturing entrepreneurship. Richard Branson said of the United Kingdom’s economic crisis in 2011, that the country was in need of a new way of doing business to get out of the present crisis. Fast forward five years and South Africa is in the same position. It is clear that we need to nurture and seriously develop entrepreneurship to not only create employment, but to also stimulate the overall economy, creating a brighter future for the myriad of youth who possibly see no future in this country.
Branson believes that good entrepreneurs start with a customer problem and from this point ideas are developed, solutions are found and a business is born. If there is one thing that South Africa has it is problems, so why not view this positively and help entrepreneurs dream big and create opportunities to solve these problems and in turn jobs for so many more people.
By promoting entrepreneurial spirit, barriers will break down and more people will feel capable of starting their own businesses. It is vital for the natural growth of the country; as new businesses can breathe essential life and a spirit of potential into the economy.
Nedbank continues to innovate and provide practical solutions for small businesses including start-ups. To this end, it has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission to bring “CIPC Online” – an integrated online registration service which can be accessed via www.nedbank.co.za.
In addition, Nedbank has several innovative products and services, such as Gap Access, a new banking tool making it easy for businesses to access cash advances and Market Edge, a first-in-market data analytics tool providing business intelligence and valuable insights, aimed at enhancing small business entrepreneurs.
Nedbank understands that creating an environment where small businesses can thrive is critical to promote entrepreneurial growth and job creation. A reflection of this commitment is Nedbank’s provision of more than R20 million over the past three years in enterprise development assistance to emerging black SMEs, benefiting over 2 000 entrepreneurs with mentoring, skills and other interventions to aimed.
Entrepreneurs also have the ability to build new market sectors and with it many new jobs. South Africa needs the boost and support for entrepreneurs willing to take the risk to transform great ideas into meaningful businesses.
There are many ways to encourage entrepreneurship and to support these businesses. An example is how the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), with Nedbank as title sponsors, launched the movement, Small Business Friday. The movement now in its fifth consecutive year simply mobilizes the nation to support their local small businesses. The movement elevates on Friday’s and peaks on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This year the biggest small business day of the year is on 2 September. The campaign hopes to instill in it a sense of pride, responsibility and collaboration, helping to build the base of small businesses across the country.
By developing home-grown businesses first, we place immediate focus on the needs of the local economy, we strengthen from the inside out, creating a strong base to move forward in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
The World Economic Forum acknowledges entrepreneurship as one of the drivers of sustainable economic growth because it creates new businesses, drives and shapes innovation, speeds up structural economic changes, and introduces new competition – thereby contributing to productivity.
If we can successfully drive entrepreneurship, and even promote it as a viable career path, we will build a nation of entrepreneurs and change the economic course of South Africa.