Global initiative to energise SA’s startup ecosystem

Updated on 10 November 2014

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Global initiative to energise SA's startup ecosystemSouth Africa is the first African country to join the Startup Nations, a global initiative aiming to promote greater cooperation between various stakeholders to advance entrepreneurship, and the creation of a sustainable environment for startups and small businesses.

Startup Nations South Africa was launched today, joining a global network of 35 Startup Nations including Startup Britain, Startup Chile, Startup Malaysia, Startup China. South Africa’s founding partners are the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), The Innovation Hub and Wits Business School. GM for Enterprise Development and at The Innovation Hub, Fredell Jacobs, will co-ordinate the initiative.

Boosting SA’s startup scene

“We must consciously strive to build a nation of entrepreneurs and not a nation of job-seekers,” said Minister of Small Business Lindiwe Zulu, speaking at the launch.

Minister Zulu said that entrepreneurship levels in SA are at the lowest they have been in three years, and called everyone to work hard to inculcate a culture of entrepreneurship in the country.

 From left to right, Wits Deputy Vice Chancellor Tawana Kupe; IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena; Minister of Small Business Lindiwe Zulu; CEO, The Innovation Hub, McLean Sibanda.

Jacobs says South Africa has no shortage of small business initiatives, it’s rather the role-players themselves that need to collaborate more closely to address bottlenecks and to create a more enabling environment for startups. “Getting this right could help energise the country’s startup scene.”

Building an entrepreneur ecosystem

One of the main objectives of Startup Nations South Africa will be the creation of a national collaboration platform between public sector, private sector, academia and civil society. The initiative will focus on thought leadership, research and education.

According to their press release, the initiative has also set about building a Startup Nations South Africa Advisory Board. The board will comprise of connected local and global innovation and entrepreneur thought leaders, who will provide guidance on how best to create a national impact.

Job creation

IDC’s CEO Geoffery Qhena says they will use IDC’s infrastructure to leverage Startup Nations South Africa’s activities and impact so that they can support and develop SMEs and youth in entrepreneurship.

Qhena says the initiative will help to unleash local talent and enable local businesses to share best practices with other like-minded peers in the global entrepreneurship movement.

Following the launch in Gauteng, Startup Nation will also be launched in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. According to Jacobs, there are plans to launch entrepreneur-focused events such as Startup Weekend, Startup Business Cup and Startup Creative Cup in 2015.

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