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Cape Town’s Entrepreneurship Week

The City of Cape Town has embarked on an ambitious strategy to promote and encourage entrepreneurship in the Mother City.

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The Telkom Cape Town Entrepreneurship Conference aims to support entrepreneurs in two distinct ways, by offering advice and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs, and by bringing together key corporate and governmental stakeholders who influence the entrepreneurial landscape.

For Martin Feinstein, co-event director of Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week, this distinction is an important one. “Even though the first 2 days of the Telkom Cape Town Entrepreneurship Conference is not aimed specifically at entrepreneurs in terms of attendance, it is all about entrepreneurs,” he says. “The environment in which businesses operate is shaped by a range of factors: policies, infrastructure quality, availability of skills, the quality of the education system, support services and access to capital.

“These factors depend in turn on decisions made by politicians, policy-makers, urban planners, educators and a range of other leaders. Our aim with this conference is to try and encourage more co-ordination between these decision-makers and more collaboration in the delivery of services and support, direct and indirect, to entrepreneurs. Participants in the conference will be challenged to think carefully about the importance of promoting and enabling entrepreneurship in Cape Town and other cities, and how they can do this more effectively. Ultimately this will benefit entrepreneurs by their priorities and needs being taken into account more seriously.”

An entrepreneurial focus

Day three of the conference is open to the public and aimed specifically at entrepreneurs. The growth of Cape Town’s economy is ultimately dependent on the capacity of its entrepreneurs to create and develop sustainable business strategies. “For entrepreneurs who seek a cosmopolitan and slightly alternative lifestyle, Cape Town certainly offers more lifestyle choices,” says Feinstein. “In many respects – and this is a personal opinion – the physical infrastructure of Cape Town is better than other cities. A visiting customer can find you easily because the street signs are generally there and visible – unlike many other cities in South Africa where street signs have become casualties – and because they can get around quickly. Retailers are less troubled by vagrancy and erratic services. The city and its officials are generally more efficient than other cities, and more attuned to the needs of business.”

According to Feinstein, the City of Cape Town has embarked on an ambitious strategy to promote and encourage entrepreneurship in the Mother City. Cape Town Activa is based on the Barcelona Activa model, which aims to not only provide early-stage entrepreneurs with access to a wide range of support services, but also to improve the efficiency of collaboration between various private and government agencies and organizations. The Business Place, a non-profit small business information centre, has been appointed to drive this process.

Challenges faced by Entrepreneurs

Many people want to be entrepreneurs, but few people understand what it means to be one – and how tough it is. But once you have launched your canoe from the shore, there are a host of problems and challenges you may face in the water. “Access to working capital is often a problem, and lack of adequate finance means it is difficult to fund the required level of marketing and investment in people and equipment. This often constrains the business, sometimes fatally, in its early days. Finding and keeping staff is a big problem – employees who are reliable, have the right attitude and work to add value are few and far between. And there is lots of red tape to keep you up at night,” says Feinstein, who believes that an entrepreneurial ecosystem can help alleviate many of these problems.

“An entrepreneurial ecosystem is an environment where any entrepreneur, at any stage of their journey, can quickly and easily find the resources and advice they need to get to the next level,” he says. “In a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem, there is access to venture capital, the education system turns out people with the right mix of skills, there is a lot of innovation and R&D happening in companies and on campuses that can be commercialized, red tape is minimized, entrepreneurs who take risks are valued for it, government plays an enabling role and is not scared to try new approaches and experiment, there is a close dialogue and understanding between business and government, and there are serious incentives not only for start-ups but to attract businesses. Government cannot itself create this kind of ecosystem, but it can ‘seed’ it and work to cultivate it.”

For more information about Telkom Cape Town Entrepreneurship Week, please visit www.ctew.co.za

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5 Ways SMMEs Can Best Use An Incubation Centre

Here are some tips on how entrepreneurs can make the most of these incubation centres.

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Incubation centres play a meaningful role – not only in South Africa but around the world – as they groom SMMEs and give them access to opportunities that will help them survive in a competitive marketplace. These centres help entrepreneurs modernise their businesses with world-class technology, while providing insights that can help turn ideas into products. Incubation centres offer infrastructure and support, knowledge-sharing and a unique environment that helps strengthen their businesses.

Earlier this month, Cisco South Africa launched its R10 million Edge Incubation Centre in Pretoria where 30 SMMEs per year will have the opportunity to make use of the platform and speed up their entry to market. The centre gives SMMEs access to complete business facilities including workspaces, video conferencing and collaboration platforms, boardroom and training facilities, and access to global Cisco experts who can help them develop business ideas in a digital world.

Here are some tips on how entrepreneurs can make the most of these incubation centres:

1. Collaboration

Gain insights from global experts using the latest Webex technology and collaborate with other SMMEs. Utilise the meeting spaces to drive commercial sales initiatives with the help of business support facilities.

2. Resources & Equipment

Make use of laboratories and tools like cloud-based facilities, smart interactive whiteboards for content sharing, video conferencing, and meeting rooms. Utilise the high-tech customer demo centre as a practice platform.

Related: The Definitive List Of South African Business Incubators For Start-Ups

3. Support

Take advantage of the enablement programmes as well as the ongoing training and development. Knowledge transfer will always help your business. Utilise the technical support and business insights to grow your business and make it competitive in the digital economy.

4. Connectivity

This is your main tool in a digital marketplace. Make use of the high-speed broadband facilities and develop your digital skills because you will need it.

5. Sales

Don’t forget to utilise the pre-sales support as this may give you the edge in the marketplace. Gain insights and experience and use it to your advantage.

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9 In 10 Workers Want A Festive Gift From Their Employer To Make Them Feel Valued

29% Would like to receive vouchers from their company.

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As the festive season approaches, digital print company instantprint have revealed what managers can be doing to show staff they are appreciated.

Over 9 in 10 workers (94%) want a gift from their employers to make them feel valued, appreciated and happy this Christmas.

The research, which surveyed 1,500 UK office workers, also revealed the most in demand gifts that employees would like to receive from their employers:

  • 29% would like a gift voucher
  • 8% would like an early finish
  • One in five (20%) would like a free bar at the company Christmas party
  • One in ten (10.3%) would like a physical gift
  • 7% would like a charitable donation to be made in their name.

Related: Why Innovative Employee Benefits Are Your Competitive Advantage

Different sections of the workforce had varying demands. IT professionals would prefer an early finish this festive period, with 35% in the IT department choosing this as their ideal Christmas gift.

Senior management seem to have a more selfless approach to the gifts they would like to receive. One in ten (11%) said they would like a charitable donation to be made in their name, compared to the average demand for this present of just 7%.

There was some difference between men and women too. Women are the ones really pressing for gift vouchers, with 33% saying they are the ideal present, compared to just 23% of men. Male employees seem to prefer a free bar, with 22% choosing this, compared to just 18% of women.

James Kinsella, CEO and Co-founder of instantprint, said about the research:

“Most organisation take part in the festive period, with decorations, Christmas parties and office Secret Santas.

“But this research highlights how important a small show of gratitude can be for your workforce. Something as simple as an early finish, free bar at a party or a Christmas gift voucher can make employees feel valued and appreciated. This in turn can help boost employee morale, loyalty and productivity in the workplace.”

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South African Students To Battle In Universities Business Challenge To Win Up To R50 000

Students will compete in a simulation that encourages business skills.

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Cognity Advisory’s Universities Business Challenge (UBC), sponsored by General Electric (GE), launched in July this year, has seen 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa participate in a business simulation competition, that’s designed to develop their entrepreneurship skills. The challenge is now down to just 10 teams from five different universities (approximately 50 students), who will travel to Johannesburg to compete in the two-day final event on the 5 and 6th December 2018.

The ten teams competing in the final includes three teams from the North West University, two from Mangosuthu University of Technology, two from the Vaal University of Technology, two from the University of Limpopo and one from The University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). These teams will be competing for the chance to win up to R50,000.

Related: Call For Applications: Young Entrepreneurs Global Exposure Trips

The aim of the UBC, now in its second year in South Africa and 20th year globally, is to tackle South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

The competition simulates a business environment, with students given a problem to solve. The simulation is designed to foster skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving, commercial awareness and team-working. The challenge is designed to empower young people and equip them with the necessary skills to succeed in business.

Tope Toogun, development advisor and CEO of Cognity Advisory says, “Students are very prepared in terms of theory when they leave university, but not the practical skills they need to start and run a business. Seeing as SMEs make up 90 percent of formal businesses it’s really important that these students know how to build a business on their own or at the very least, in small teams.”

Toogun explains how the simulation encourages business skills, “The students competing in the challenge learn all about managing people, customer service, working in teams and how to create a start up without even realising they are being exposed to all these skills. These are the skills that will separate the members in the final. Students must work as a team and make instinctive decisions.”

Cognity Advisory is engaging students through social media competitions and newsletter updates. These competitions include spot prizes for students who post an image or video and receive the highest engagement on it.

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