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Africa’s Own Aspiring Extraterrestrial Calls On African Innovators To Apply For The #Africa4Future Initiative Before 30 November

Dr Adriana Marais, Theoretical Physicist, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa and self-proclaimed aspiring extraterrestrial, recognises the launch of #Africa4Future opportunity for African innovators and explains innovation links to the Mars One vision.

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InnoCircle recently hosted a webinar with Dr Adriana Marais to discuss the link between the vision and mission of the Mars One project and the imminent Africa-first Aerospace Accelerator #Africa4Future. African innovators in the tech sector have 4 days left to apply.

Dr Adriana Marais is a theoretical physicist who has made it her life’s mission to embark on the one-way trip to Mars in order to establish life on the surface of another planet. As Head of Innovation at SAP Africa she is passionate about exploring innovative applications of emerging technologies to challenges facing the continent.

Mars One is a foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations and it is this project that Marais is part of. She is one of 50 men and 50 women selected as part of the Mars 100, 100 people that have been chosen from a pool of 202,586 applicants to proceed to the next round and are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.

The #Africa4Future Aerospace Accelerator is the first of its kind on the African continent and post the application deadline on 30 November, 10 startups will be selected to join the programme which kicks off on January 15th. Selected teams will receive access to industry-leading experts, feedback from top engineers, a showcase at the Paris International Airshow in 2019 and a potential opportunity to launch a collaboration project in partnership with key Airbus departments. The selected teams will also receive space within MEST Incubators across Africa during the programme.

InnoCircle spoke to Dr Adriana Marais on the link between the #Africa4Future initiative and the Mars mission.

“This is an era of rapid change but also an era that we should be extremely excited to be living in,” states Dr Adriana Marais, “With improved technology comes the capacity to do things that have never been done before. We are the group of humans that will witness the first journey of humans to Mars and the first establishment of an off-world settlement on the surface of the planet Mars before 2030.”

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

The Foundation for Space Development, where Dr Marais is Director, is planning an overwinter research expedition to Antarctica in 2020. Antarctica is the perfect simulation of a Martian habitat where explorers will experience real isolation and harsh living conditions. Each explorer will need to contribute to the research community. Projects will range from the kind of tech needed to survive in hostile environments and extend to research, wellness and entertainment. Technologies will involve the production of the basic human needs like power, air, water management systems, efficient food production in harsh conditions, drones to explore the environment and secure communication capabilities.

“Exploration drives innovation and that’s exactly what thinking around startup ideas in the Aerospace industry are going to simulate,” adds Dr Marais, “New knowledge, new growth and new ideas. We need the creative thinking borne of an idea of surviving in a harsh environment. This out-of-the-box thinking is exactly what we need to explore and also what we need to create a brighter future here on Earth.”

She adds: “The Indian Space Agency in 2015 launched a Mars orbital mission for $100 million, which involved a super drone that orbits around the planet, doing imaging of the atmosphere rather than the surface. In this way, developing countries are proving that we can do space cheaper and better than before.”

The perfect platform to test Aerospace ideas is, of course, the #Africa4Future Accelerator. This joint accelerator program betweenAirbus’ global aerospace accelerator BizLab and Make-IT in Africa, a programme by the German Agency for International Cooperation(GIZ), will be implemented by MEST and InnoCircle, two organisations with a significant presence and deep knowledge of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Africa, this year.

For this second edition, the call is on African tech startups that are actively working on solutions related to unmanned logistics and remote sensing technology, including automation and drones, electrification, blockchain, artificial intelligence, data analytics and material composites and manufacturing.

“The multidisciplinary approach to identifying challenges and the recommended solutions in Africa – the combination of aerospace technology with agriculture, health or data analytics, opens the world for more cost-effective solutions to global problems in all sectors,” adds Karen Eksteen, co-founder of InnoCircle.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

“Our experience in working in the global tech startup scene in combination with a strong African network and a solid understanding of the African Tech ecosystem, is a good match for the objectives of Airbus Bizlab and the GIZ. They understand the potential of Africa as an emerging market for Aerospace technology and sought local implementation partners. Our unique value proposition in combination with the infrastructure of MEST Incubator, a ten-year-old Pan-African initiative, made us a perfect fit,” states Ellen Fischat, co-founder of InnoCircle.

“I look forward to following the progress of this programme, because I think it’s going to be an excellent way to have some insight into the amazing innovations in the Aerospace field happening around the continent. I look forward to seeing more of this,” concludes Dr Adriana Marais.

Startups can submit applications for the program until 30th November 2018 via https://www.airbus-bizlab.com/africa4future

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5 Businesses You Should Start in 2019

Here’s the lowdown on consumer and technology opportunities in 2019 and beyond.

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Savvy entrepreneurs should keep a close watch on consumer and technology trends in 2019. This, according to Silvertree Internet Holdings Co-founder and MD, Manuel Koser. Having invested in and grown a number of highly successful South African brands (among them Faithful-to-Nature.co.za, UCOOK.co.za, Pricecheck.co.za, CompareGuru.co.za, Petheaven.co.za, Cybercellar.com, and CarZar.co.za). Silvertree’s management team sees several business opportunities set to grow exponentially over the coming decade.

Here’s the lowdown on consumer and technology opportunities in 2019 and beyond.

1. Indigenous and ethical: Personal and home care products

2019 Sees growing potential for personal care products – ‘Those with local and indigenous ingredients, ethical sourcing which is kind to nature and the body,’ Koser explains. ‘There is a lot of room to play in the African haircare market particularly, as it’s often overlooked by the major FMCG companies.’

The Silvertree MD also sees increasing room for innovative natural home cleaners as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious. ‘Until now, it was all about the well-known cleaning products the major chemical manufacturers put on the shelves. Now, there’s increasing space for new, exciting entrants.’

2. New beverages

‘Locally-sourced ingredients and an earth-first mindset will also play an increasing role in the consumer beverage market. Add to this the fact that major soft drink manufacturers will struggle to produce drinks for increasingly health-conscious consumers. They’re often just not quick enough to adjust to changing consumer tastes – particularly the tastes of millennials. Think less about a standard fizzy drink, but rather one that’s kind to the body, with natural ingredients. Non-alcoholic: water plus, say, cucumber, or another indigenous ingredient. The market for this will grow.’

3. Ethical snacking

Plant-based, vegan, ancient grains, ethical, protein-rich snacks – these are just some of the trends Koser sees dominating in the snack segment in 2019 and beyond. It’s about unique, tasty, functional foods that cater to the modern, time-starved consumer, Koser explains.

4. Buy, sell and compare online

In the technology space, marketplaces, e-commerce sites and classifieds will all gain momentum in 2019 and beyond. This encompasses aggregators as well as more unusual online businesses, which are increasingly able to find and reach consumers interested in niche products and services.

‘Consider an online ice-cream business. Once, something like that would have been unthinkable,’ Koser explains. ‘But as consumers demand greater choice, room for niche products like this grows.’

Yet, dabble online and seamless execution and delivery become make-or-break factors. ‘Many South African consumers use services such as Google, Amazon, Uber and Spotify daily – world-class products that function on a global scale. You can call an Uber and wait for just two minutes before getting a ride,’ Koser explains. ‘It’s quick and totally seamless. Consumers have come to expect that level of service across the board. Aligned to this is the fact that the millennial wave is currently hitting Cape Town right now, and Joburg secondarily, meaning a number of opportunities are opening up. Go after products and services in the right space and consumers will follow.’

5. Reinvent the wheel – and make it better

The final type of business entrepreneurs should keep an eye on is those that currently have low Net Promoter Scores. ‘This means that very few people like them, or the services they provide are of very poor quality,’ Koser explains. ‘Think of postal service providers or telecoms companies. With any monopolistic or oligopolistic structures, the service is often terrible because the heavyweights hold so much power. There’s a huge gap here.’

An allied approach for entrepreneurs is to assess opportunities for automation, or cutting out the middleman with technology. ‘Once, many markets – such as real estate were opaque, meaning you needed a middleman to help you transact. However, as the capabilities of technology have grown, markets have become far more transparent – making it easier for buyers to match with sellers safely. Today, a lot of this is easy to automate services – think about connecting a homeowner to a prospective renter through a digital solution where renters can be qualified, for example, in terms of their finances, personal information and criminal records. Quick and simple. And no middleman.’

The biggest opportunities here centre around where consumers spend the greatest amounts of time and money, Koser notes. ‘Housing and rent are always major costs. In terms of where consumers spend their time, on the other hand, much of it is, on a mobile phone, or PC.’

However, entrepreneurial success is never down to any one magic formula, Koser emphasises. Nor does Silvertree invest in prospective entrepreneurs solely on the basis of the product or service they offer. ‘It’s about passion, perseverance and tenacity as much as it is about the quality of the product.’

Silvertree Internet Holdings is an investment growth partner who aims to understand, grow and scale business, consumer and digital brands to unlock the brands’ exponential growth.

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What To Watch For In Tito Mboweni’s First Budget Speech

By Rob Cooper, tax expert at Sage, and chairman of the Payroll Authors Group of South Africa.

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Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, delivers his first Budget Speech on 20 February at a difficult time for the South African economy. Even though President Cyril Ramaphosa has done much to restore business confidence in his first year in office, GDP growth remains weak, government finances are in relatively poor shape, and renewed load shedding is hurting business confidence.

Judging from his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October last year, I expect Minister Mboweni — backed by the team in the National Treasury—to deliver a relatively cautious budget. Much of the focus will be on refinancing the state-owned enterprises and putting them back on to a sustainable footing.

We probably won’t see much in the way of radical thinking since the room for manoeuvre is so limited. Click each header below for an indepth video on the upcoming topics.

National Health Insurance (NHI)

Renewal of the country’s public healthcare system with a mandatory health insurance fund and free healthcare at the point of need has been the ANC government’s policy for years, but progress has been slow to date. There isn’t much money in the country’s coffers to fund something as ambitious as NHI, yet the government will want to show that it is advancing the concept ahead of the elections.

With an NHI bill to be tabled in Parliament soon, we could learn more about how NHI will be funded in this year’s Budget Speech — it’s still not clear whether we will pay for it through payroll taxes, VAT increases or other fundraising measures. As an initial step, we could see medical aid tax credits reduced (or at least not adjusted for inflation) to free up some funding for the NHI.

The Employment Tax Incentive (ETI)

The ETI Act came into effect on 1 January 2014; as a fan of this incentive, I was delighted that President Ramaphosa announced that it will be extended for 10 years another decade in his state of the nation address. However, I have also long argued that the scheme is not performing to its true potential because it is so complex for payroll managers to administer.

The introduction of the national minimum wage adds even more complexity— until and unless the ETI Act is amended, SARS is of the opinion that the National Minimum Wage will not qualify as a “wage regulating measure”. I hope the Budget Speech will announce steps to align the ETI with the national minimum wage and take other measures to simplify administration.

Tax hikes

I don’t expect any major increases to corporate or personal income tax this year since the taxpayer doesn’t have much more to give. I think the top 45% rate will remain unchanged, while tax bracket creep relief (to compensate for inflation) will be limited to lower income earners. It seems unlikely that the Minister will increase VAT again this year, given last year’s increase.

That means the Minister is likely to look at ‘moral’ taxes (sin and sugar taxes) to raise more money; we can expect another steep increase in the fuel levy. Perhaps we’ll also hear about efforts to improve SARS’ revenue collection after several years of under-performance. The agency seems ripe for a turnaround strategy, with high-powered team looking for a permanent chief to take the reins at SARS.

Follow us on @SageGroupZA on 20 February 2019 for LIVE expert insights from the annual Budget Speech.

For more information about Sage’s annual tax seminars, please visit: https://get.sage.com/PRL_19Q1_C4L_ZA_EVCU_NPS_AnnualPayrollTaxSeminar2019

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Top SA Entrepreneurial Competition Praises Sector Optimism And Calls For 2019 Entries

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can enter online here.

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Even in the face of ongoing sluggish growth, exacerbated by widespread allegations of corruption and muted domestic economic activity, South African entrepreneurs remain overwhelmingly optimistic. This was revealed in the Real State of Entrepreneurship Survey 2018, which found that the vast majority of over 1000 business owners surveyed feel very positive about the business climate and outlook for the 12 months ahead.

It is these resilient individuals who will have their deserved time to shine in the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, says Kobus Engelbrecht, spokesperson for the competition, who says entries for the renowned competition – now in its 31st year – are officially open.

Entrepreneurial competitions of this nature, however, serve a greater purpose than just celebrating South Africa’s spirited self-starters, notes Engelbrecht.

“Credible platforms such as the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition also act to inspire the next generation of budding entrepreneurs, who have the potential to drive real economic growth at a time where the country needs it most.”

Engelbrecht refers to the World Bank’s recent downward revision of South Africa’s projections for economic growth in 2019 to just 1.3% – 0.6% lower than the South African Reserve Bank’s earlier prediction of 1.9% in November.

“Despite these challenging economic conditions, year on year we still find exceptional entrepreneurs who continue to identify gaps in the market and transform these into viable businesses.

“It is our aim, through this long-standing competition platform, to continually recognise, encourage and support the hard-working entrepreneurs who continue to do well despite the challenges they are faced with. We use the competition to convey our appreciation for the role they play in inspiring others to venture into the world of business,” he says.

In addition to offering valuable mentorship support, networking opportunities and national media exposure, Engelbrecht says that the2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS, offers prizes valued at over R 2 million, which includes cash prizes of R 70 000 for each main category winner, and R200 000 for the overall winner.

“All South African businesses are eligible to enter this competition, and prizes will be awarded across six categories, namely: Overall Entrepreneur of the Year®; Emerging Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Medium Business Entrepreneur of the Year®; Job Creator of the Year; and Innovator of the Year.”

Entrepreneurs interested in entering the competition can download entry forms online at www.eoy.co.za as well as interact with fellow entrepreneurs and entrants on the competition’s social media platforms www.twitter.com/@EOY_SA and www.facebook.com/EOY.SA. The closing date for the competition is 31 May 2019.

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