Spotting an opportunity that sparks an entrepreneurial idea is a dominant driver of start-up businesses in South Africa, but they are not creating jobs at the scale and rate South Africa so urgently needs.
This is just one of the findings of South Africa’s largest startup survey announced last night by chief executive officer of Seed Academy, Donna Rachelson. The survey was conducted this year by Seed Academy when the views of almost 1500 start-up entrepreneurs in South Africa were gauged.
Nearly 50% of the entrepreneurs surveyed said creating a business out of an idea that came to them from the environment in which they live, work and play was their main motivating factor. Only 4% of respondents started a business because they were unable to find a job.
Rachelson says this is a positive sign for South Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as most entrepreneurs are starting businesses for the right reason.
“But only 4% of entrepreneurs surveyed employ more than 10 staff. As many as 38% of start-up entrepreneurs do not employ anyone at all. Job creation should be a key outcome of entrepreneurial activity, yet a large portion of our entrepreneurs have no employees.”
The 2016 start-up survey built on the benchmarks established in 2015 when Seed Academy conducted the first start up survey to get a picture of the challenges startups face and the support they need to increase success rates.
“This year we sought an understanding of grassroots entrepreneurs, focused in on youth and women entrepreneurs and looked at the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in key sectors. We also gauged the progress made in funding for entrepreneurs,” says Rachelson.
The survey revealed that entrepreneurs are taking long periods to gain traction. Rachelson says it is concerning that there are businesses five years and older that are not making sales.
The survey found that business survival rates are on the increase, female entrepreneurs remain in the minority and that the ethnic footprint of entrepreneurs does not mirror SA’s demographics – black start-up entrepreneurs are underrepresented.
Says Rachelson: “While the percentage increase in the age of the businesses is small, the fact it is increasing is a step in the right direction. Our entrepreneurs are resilient. They are primarily working from home and funding themselves with small amounts of capital while facing the well-known challenges of finding customers and raising finance.
“The majority of entrepreneurs (59%) are the sole founders of their business. But they are optimistic, especially women business owners.”
The majority of entrepreneurs reported starting businesses in the Information Technology (22%), Creative (12%), Wholesale and Retail (9%) or Social and Community Services (9%) sectors. Mining and Automotive were amongst the least popular sectors for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Related: Incentives to Promote Job Creation
A significant outcome was the fact that prior work experience is a major contributing factor in business survival. Business owners that have been in existence for more than 2.5 years reported having more than 10 years prior work experience.
Rachelson recommends that entrepreneurs starting a new business may wish to do so in parallel with full time employment.
“Furthermore, with 50% of SA’s youth (aged 15-24) currently unemployed, there is a dire shortage of opportunities for them to gain work experience. Innovative ways to provide our young people with work experience need to be found. To develop skills and business acumen, we should be considering interventions such as entrepreneur shadowing or on-the-job training at an SME,” says Rachelson.
Rachelson outlines recommendations that all players in the small business ecosystem need to consider:
- Enhancing the funding ecosystem by improving the effectiveness of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), developing and incentivising the angel network, working with banks and using seed funds
- Preparing entrepreneurs to be funding-ready
- Elevating marketing, access to markets and soft skills development for entrepreneurs
- Fast-tracking and deepening the development of women and youth entrepreneurs
- Facilitating stronger public/private sector collaborations
- More aggressively embedding a culture of entrepreneurship across the country.
Old Mutual Committed To Empowering South African Entrepreneurs
South African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to take their venture to the next level will get a chance to network with big business – such as the likes of Old Mutual – at Global Entrepreneurship Week, currently running from 12 – 16 November 2018 at the Enterprise Room in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is an annual celebration of the innovators and job creators, who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and social inclusivity.
According to the Banking Association of South Africa, SMEs have been identified as productive drivers of inclusive economic growth and development in South Africa, as well as globally. Some researchers have estimated that the local SME sector makes up 91% of formalised businesses. The sector also provides employment to an estimated 60% of the labour force and accounts for around 34% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in total economic output.
Old Mutual has been actively working to empower SMEs for more than a decade through structured programmes and vehicles designed to provide both the financial – and non-financial – support that is critical for success. This focus on creating both business and societal value means that the company continues to invest in creating opportunities for all South Africans.
The company’s innovative Enterprise and Supplier Development Fund works to create opportunities for small businesses to become integrated into Old Mutual’s supply chain, creating sustainable partnerships of mutual benefit. In addition, Old Mutual’s Masisizane Fund offers SMEs operating in the manufacturing, franchising and agricultural arenas a mix of grants, loans and technical support, to enable them to gain vital market access and create jobs.
Collectively, these two small business empowerment funds have approved over R750-million in funding to small businesses across the country, having already disbursed close to R600-million, while creating more than 8330 job opportunities in the process.
Old Mutual recognises that funding alone is not the key catalyst for growth where SME development is concerned, which is why it also offers a range of non-financial support option to SMEs both pre and post investment. This includes SME training in financial education, as well as business support in the form of technical mentorship, financial management tools and advice, as well as bespoke accounting services.
Old Mutual will be hosting a special session at Global Entrepreneurship Week on Wednesday 14 November 2018 titled “Doing Business with Old Mutual” at which SMEs looking to connect with the company can get more information on its unique empowerment and development programmes.
Entrepreneurs can get more information on Old Mutual’s small business empowerment programmes here:
Enterprise and Supplier Development Programme:
Supplierdevelopment@oldmutual.com or 011 217 1000
Via the Old Mutual Website at www.oldmutual.co.za/masisizane
Email: MasisizaneEnquiries@oldmutual.com or call 011 217 1000
Getting Maximum Value This Black Friday
Here are Toni Wilkinson’s, Chief Marketing Officer at PriceCheck, top six tips for getting the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Black Friday is almost here! Around South Africa, eager shoppers are double-checking their budgets and making wish-lists! Black Friday is now so well-entrenched, everyone’s getting in on the action. With discounts of as much as 80%, thousands of bargain hunters will flood SA’s online retailers when the clock strikes midnight.
With a number of lead-up sales also soon to be underway, many shoppers have already begun to flex their bargain-grabbing muscles. But is there an art to shopping safely and wisely when the real madness strikes? The answer is yes.
Toni Wilkinson, Chief Marketing Officer at PriceCheck, South Africa’s number one product discovery and comparison platform, and a Silvertree Internet Holdings company, shares her thoughts.
Here are Toni’s top six tips for getting the best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Have a plan. Know what you want, need and can afford before you get enticed by all the offers in front of you.
- Choose a secure way to pay. Credit card payment methods that ask you for a supplementary one-time PIN such as Verified by Visa, Snapscan and PayPal are all good options.
- Take note of the delivery and return details. Will you get the purchase when you need it? And, if you need to return it, will you end up paying more on delivery costs?
- Look out for hidden costs or additional purchases you might need to make.
- Compare deals. Similar deals might be packaged slightly differently, so make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
- Only buy from reputable retailers so you can be sure you will receive authentic products.
“Our Black Friday deals run for an entire week on PriceCheck.” Toni explains, “starting 19 November and running through until Cyber Monday 26 November 2018.”
In 2017, PriceCheck witnessed a huge increase in site traffic at midnight on Black Friday compared to the average day – almost 3 times the normal number of users logged on – showing that SA’s online shoppers stand ready and waiting for Black Friday deals to break.
To help them prepare for the increased demand, PriceCheck has been working closely with its merchants over the last 4 weeks to curate their product offerings. ‘From a customer demand side, we’ve also been upscaling and testing our servers to accommodate the increased traffic to our site, to ensure we have no downtime,’ Toni explains. ‘We’ll also have our developers on standby for the full 24 hours. We experienced no downtime last year, and are confident we can replicate this again this year.’
On Black Friday, PriceCheck will have a dedicated list of curated Black Friday deals, encompassing all site-wide deals either above 30% or equal to R2 000 or more in saving. ‘Global research shows that there is limited consumer pre-planning for Black Friday 2018, which is a great opportunity for consumers to use a comparison service such as PriceCheck to see all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in one place and click-through directly to get the deal before it sells out,’ Toni explains.
PriceCheck’s Black Friday deals will run from 19 November – 26 November, with category specials running daily in the build-up to Black Friday.
‘Consumers can look out for offers from the following categories in the build-up week to Black Friday,’ says Wilkinson. ‘Deals will cover Fashion & Beauty on Monday, Home on Tuesday, Toys & Gadgets on Wednesday, and Electronics on Thursday, with every category of course available on Black Friday itself. Deals will also run across all categories and brands.’
What are some of the brands to watch out for this year? Toni highlights some of 2017’s top performers: ‘The most popular brands last year were Samsung, Apple and Hisense. In general, our top products included cell phones, TVs, smart watches, laptops and multimedia players. Last year the most popular category was tech by far, followed by fashion, toys and baby.’
On the question of whether Black Friday is profitable for businesses, Toni explains that volume and demand are key. ‘Global research shows that consumers are planning to spend even more on purchases in 2018 compared to previous years, reaffirming Black Friday as one of the most significant revenue-generating opportunities in the retail calendar. Retailers may experience a slow start to sales in November, due to the high demand for deep discounts over the Black Friday week. During Black Friday week itself, retailers generally experience a spike in sales, relying on high sales volumes to compensate for low margins. They also use the event to mark the start of the shopping season.’
To help shoppers find the best Black Friday deals, PriceCheck uses a powerful, intelligent search function. ‘We want to be the first site South Africans head to on Black Friday,’ Toni emphasises. ‘We aggregate products from all the reputable retailers, saving consumers time when searching for the products they want.’
It’s Never Too Late To Start A Business
Entrepreneurship at any age is key to minimising unemployment in SA.
Whilst the country continues to battle a high unemployment rate – which increased to 27,5 percent, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the Third Quarter of 2018 – the narrative of entrepreneurship as a viable career choice should be widely promoted and encouraged across all generations.
However, according to Anton Roelofse, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTERS), the recently released 2018 Real State of Entrepreneurship Survey, compiled by Seed Academy and Old Mutual, revealed that 80 percent of entrepreneurs in South Africa are under the age of 45, with the majority of entrepreneurs reported to be between the ages of 25 and 34.
“In light of the high prevalence of unemployment, there is no reason that entrepreneurship should be reserved for the younger generation. Considering that only 20 percent of entrepreneurs are over 45, it is now more important than ever for older aspiring entrepreneurs to realise that the country needs them and it is never too late to start a business,” he says.
Delving into the reasons for this low rate of entrepreneurship among older generations in South Africa, Roelofse refers to the 2016-2017 Senior Entrepreneurship Report. “According to the report, older individuals have the lowest confidence in their ability to start and run their own businesses, and many believe that entrepreneurship is a young person’s occupation because the majority of entrepreneurs are young.”
In contrast to these beliefs, Roelofse says that it has actually been shown that older entrepreneurs are more adept at building resilient businesses, which is especially crucial during times of slow economic growth.
“If more older entrepreneurs follow their entrepreneurial dreams, not only will more jobs be created, but the idea of entrepreneurship will become more socially accepted for all ages and hopefully have a ripple effect.”
As such, it is vital for older aspiring entrepreneurs to realise that they are more equipped than they think to start and run a business, says Roelofse, who lists three pointers to boost older aspiring entrepreneurs’ confidence:
- Work experience: Starting a business at a later age means that the entrepreneur will have a lot more work experience. This will be extremely beneficial as it will contribute to the entrepreneur’s leadership skills, business management and acumen, problem solving skills, and industry experience, should the entrepreneur decide to open a business in the same industry.
- Personal networks: It is often said that it’s not what you know, but who you know, and as one grows in age, so do their personal and professional networks. Older entrepreneurs will therefore be more likely to know other established professionals who they can turn to for advice, collaboration, and offer their services to.
- An established passion: Older entrepreneurs tend to be less restless in their pursuits, as they have had more time to figure out what they are most passionate about, which can often be a driving force to start a business as well as motivate their success in the future.
These are just a few of the reasons supporting the notion that more older aspiring entrepreneurs should start their own businesses and contribute to increasing employment opportunities in the country, says Roelofse. “Age should be seen as an added strength, not a hindrance, when it comes to entrepreneurship. And aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of their age, should be encouraged and supported to contribute economically,” he concludes.
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