Many of Africa’s economies have been booming over the past few years, as money is pumped into infrastructure development, mining and other growth sectors. Combined with the stagnation in the US and Europe over the same time period, this has created a distinct shift in business travel patterns. More and more South Africans are travelling all over Africa on business, often for extended periods.
But visiting Lagos orLuanda carries different risks than visiting London. There are the health risks, including malaria and other nasty tropical diseases as well as poor roads and anarchic traffic; then there are the risks associated with crumbling infrastructure, political instability and light-fingered baggage handlers.
“In our experience of insuring business travellers in Africa, properly covering medical risks is absolutely critical,” says Milenko Skoro of Chartis Insurance. “In many parts of the continent, health care of the standard you and your employees expect just doesn’t exist – so your insurance needs to offer the best possible medical care, whatever it takes with options of cover which include unlimited medical expenses.
“At Chartis, for example, we have a network of air ambulances and intensive care transport to get patients to wherever the best quality of care is available.”
Life and death
This access to a global network of providers can literally make the difference between life and death. “If your employee is involved in a car accident in a remote part of the eastern DRC, for example, you can’t afford to wait for your insurer’s preferred contractor to send a plane from wherever it happens to be: You want the nearest air ambulance available, full stop,” says Skoro.
“Sometimes, of course, the best medical option is not to move the patient at all. Deciding on what care is most appropriate takes a high level of training and experience, which is why our global emergency response call centres always have a medical professional on duty to co-ordinate the response.”
According to Skoro, some risks can be avoided before you even leave home, which is why we are also able to offer full pre-trip medical examinations to identify underlying problems as an additional service through our assistance call centre at reduced rates. “If your executive is weeks away from a heart attack, you don’t want it to hit in Sierra Leone.”
Apart from emergency medical, death and disability insurance, you also need insurance for curtailment of travel and theft or loss of baggage. It’s important that not only scheduled flights on commercial airlines are covered: More and more companies are using chartered and non-scheduled flights to reach remote areas.
Politics and travel
What about political unrest? As visitors to Mali discovered most recently, this is a real risk – and our policies for business travel in Africa now include it as standard, along with cover for wrongful detention, kidnapping and detention. Negotiations and evacuations are handled by a third-party crisis prevention and response with over 20 year’s experience around the world.
“We now offer four tiers of coverage targeting everyone from senior executives to long-term workers, including those involved in high-risk activities. The principle is that the same quality of care should be available to all,” says Skoro.
“Business travel in Africa is very different. Business travellers often visit very remote places which are not particularly secure and where they tend to stick out. If your company is sending employees to manage any kind of investment in Africa, insuring their safety is one of the investments you can’t afford to skimp on.”
Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018
Comments by Pieter Bensch, Executive Vice President, Africa & Middle East at Sage.
As expected, the Finance Minister and Treasury have proposed some tough measures to address South Africa’s tax collection shortfall, growing budget deficit, and new spending priorities such as free education. Higher VAT, fuel levies and import duties on luxury goods will no doubt crimp consumer spending, which could be bad news for smaller businesses.
But we are pleased that the Finance Minister has raised his GDP growth projections and proposed interventions to help grow Small & Medium South African businesses. We welcome the steps government is taking to restore fiscal credibility, rein in spending, and hold off another credit ratings downgrade – it may be painful in the short term, but we should be rewarded in the longer term.
On small businesses, competition policy and market access
It was great to see the Finance Minister talk extensively about the hopes and concerns of entrepreneurs and small businesses in his Budget Speech today. We welcome his acknowledgement that low market access and high barriers to entry are constraining the growth of the country’s small businesses.
Minister Gigaba mentioned that government will take action against anti-competitive behaviour that harms these businesses.
That is a worthy goal, but we think we should also be looking more closely at how big businesses can play a constructive role in nurturing the growth of small businesses through mentoring and partnership. Small businesses are tomorrow’s customers, suppliers and employers, so it’s in everyone’s interest to grow this sector.
On small business funding
We heard more about the R2.1 billion fund Departments of Small Businesses and Science & Technology and the National Treasury are developing to benefit small and medium enterprises during the early start-up phase. It’s good news that government is investing in innovative startups, but it’s important that the funding is spent in an efficient and productive manner. Picking winners and losers isn’t easy, so we’d like to hear more details about how government will choose to allocate this money.
On public procurement
It makes enormous sense for government to use public procurement to support black economic empowerment, industrialisation and development of small businesses. We are glad to hear that government sees its billions of rand in procurement spend as a lever to empower small business owners – we look forward to more detail about how government will enable more small and micro businesses to participate in procurement opportunities. And of course, it’s critically important that government follows through on its promise to pay small businesses within 30 days of invoicing.
Cash flow is a major challenge for small businesses and few of them can afford to wait three to six months for payment on a big project.
Most consumers and businesses have been preparing themselves for a VAT increase in this budget. As unpalatable as many people will find the one-percentage point hike in the VAT rate, it was an obvious choice for a Finance Minister wanting to raise more revenue without dampening business investment or consumer spending.
The VAT hike will take some money out of people’s pockets, but will probably have less impact on business confidence than higher corporate taxes and less impact on consumer spending than further personal tax increases.
As expected, government has preserved the zero-rated status of some staples to lessen the impact on the poor. Small & Medium Businesses will need to make sure their systems are ready to cater for the new VAT rate, but this should not be too much of a challenge for those with automated accounting systems. By international standards, VAT in South Africa is still relatively low – we can just hope that this increase is not followed by another in the next year or two.
4 Budget Speech 2018 Outcomes To Know For Your Business
2018 Budget Speech commentary by Rob Cooper, tax expert and Director of Legislation at Sage.
The increases to taxes across the board are less painful than I expected. The general improvement to the fiscal framework and the reduction of expenditure by R86 billion over three years seem to have gotten us over the hump – for now, in any case.
1. Personal income tax
There were no surprises as far as personal income tax (PIT) is concerned. The top 45% rate remains unchanged and tax bracket creep relief is given only to those who earn below R410 000 per annum. Bracket creep in personal income tax, along with fuel levies, offers low-hanging fruit for the Finance Minister.
National Health Insurance
It’s good news that the Medical Tax Credit is still with us, even if it has received a below-inflation increase. This Medical Tax Credit is relatively small – especially with this year’s low increase – but it does help to make private medical cover affordable for millions of low-income South Africans.
2. Travel reimbursements
Great news for taxpayers and employers from the Budget: Government has scrapped the 12,000km a year limitation for using the prescribed rate per kilometre to calculate travel reimbursements. This will simplify travel reimbursement administration, but could open the door for increased levels of non-compliance in respect of travel reimbursements. On the whole, however, this will make life much easier for businesses.
3. Employment tax incentive
The Minister of Finance has decided that six special economic zones (SEZs) should be recognised by the ETI Act. Employers will thus be able to claim the Employment Tax Incentive for all employees working in one of these SEZs, irrespective of an employee’s age, but subject to qualification tests such as minimum wage and maximum remuneration. Outside of the SEZ, employers can only claim for the incentive for employees aged 18 to 29 years. This is a great way to generate more employment in the SEZs.
The VAT increase was expected and inevitable, and so were the VAT exemptions and increases to social grants the Finance Minister has applied to shield the poor from the impact of higher VAT.
Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs Takes On 30 New Businesses
22 Women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February.
With new hope burgeoning throughout the South African business environment as fundamental political change sweeps through the country, the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme has inducted 42 new beneficiaries from 30 different SMMEs for a year of intense training, coaching, mentorship and support – to assist them to professionalise and grow their businesses. This brings to 242 the total number of entrepreneurs supported by the programme.
The inductees – 22 women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February. This represented the commencement of the programme’s 2018 development year, which incorporates the provision of customised analysis and strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each enrolled business, business management courses provided by the University of Cape Town and facilitated by GetSmarter; Financial literacy courses through the Colour Accounting system, Microsoft Office courses, and Sales & Marketing training. The beneficiaries are each assigned a business analyst, a financial mentor and a leadership coach who work with them to implement their business strategies throughout the year.
This year’s class of 2018 entrepreneurs is made up of 30 small businesses operating in provinces across six provinces in South Africa in a diverse range of market sectors that include: tourism, ICT, cleaning, professional services, manufacturing, retail, health and beauty, agriculture and secretarial and administrative services. Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says “Part of the value of such a diverse group is that it creates opportunities for the businesses to trade with each other.”
She adds, “Job creation is increasingly crucial in South Africa, as unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among the youth. Through the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme, we identify and assist people running their own businesses to professionalise their operations in an effort to make them viable employers who are sustainable businesses and contributors to the growth of the country’s economy. At the same time, we encourage them to be “conscious” consumers who procure local products and services and support each other by keeping it local and proudly South African. We are interested in changing their approaches from “managerial” mindsets to “leadership” mindsets, and so we motivate them to be fearless in their approach to growth with purpose. The programme provides them with the skills to enhance their strategic planning and performance and the wisdom to “pay it forward” by training them to become leaders in their communities. The role that the programme’s mentors and coaches play in instilling these values is of great significance to the achievement of our objectives.”
Belinda Francis, MD of Tych Solutions, a generalist recruitment agency based in Durban with offices in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape, was enthusiastic about joining the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme. “Tsogo Sun is an amazing brand to be associated with, but more so, having met the team at a Supplier Showcase and heard others’ success stories, I was hungry to learn more and be a part of this journey. I don’t have an active partner and so I believe this programme will help to grow and empower me and my entire team even further. I am big on empowering and developing people and small businesses – and this will certainly create the platform for me to do so.”
Entrepreneur Carol Mlangeni, director of Enhle Creatives Photography & Design, also based in Durban, says she was browsing the internet looking for guidance on how to resolve issues within her company when she saw a Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs advertisement – and immediately responded. “I have issues within my business and I have been looking for answers on how to resolve them and grow my business and my brand awareness – I hope to achieve this through this programme.” Mlangeni adds that her future plans include providing job opportunities for “other aspiring enthusiasts like me”.
Thato Senosi is Founder of Magauta Designs and Projects, which supplies custom-made curtains, upholstery, and furniture repairs, and is based in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. He was introduced to Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by his mother, Carol Senosi, who joined the programme in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He says he joined the programme because
“I believe that entrepreneurship is a science, and one needs to put together all the necessary tools and formulas to build a successful business – and this programme offers that. My expectations this year are to identify missing formulas and find solutions, to be monitored and supported, and helped to become a great version of myself so I can inspire others, because no man is an island.”
His plans for the future include starting his own textile manufacturing company and bringing industry into the township to help combat some of the social challenges in his local community.
Says Tothill, “It’s encouraging to see the growing reach of Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs throughout the country and in a diverse range of businesses, and we wish our new beneficiaries – the Class of 2018 – every success through the year as they discover new ways to develop themselves and their enterprises.”
Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 100 hotels and 13 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Seychelles. For more details, visit https://www.tsogosun.com, follow on Twitter @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.
- New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed
- How To Think Like A Billionaire
- Relax Spas Founder Noli Mini Shares Her Insights On Building A Business Of Value
- What It Will Really Take For South Africa’s Businesses To Scale And Create Jobs
- Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018
- Leadership: What Is Your Why? (Read Purpose)
- Start-Up Law: I’m A Start-up Founder. Can I Pay Employees With Shares?
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