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.
A Conversation With Yourself Could Change Your Life
Thami Buti is a 24-year-old South African actor. He is amongst the 46% of South Africans between 20 and 50 years, who have no savings at all. He’s probably one of 90% of people who will retire with less than 50% of their income.
Except none of this is true for Thami, because he’s had a conversation with himself – at six different ages – in Sanlam’s new educational campaign.
In Sanlam’s Conversations with Yourself campaign, Thami gets transformed into a 20, 30, 50, 65 and 80-year-old (actor Hlumelo Mzimkulu plays the 10-year-old) called YOU. And over a series of conversations, these characters in their different age brackets sit and share wisdom on life’s ‘what ifs.’ Disrupting the traditional approach to ‘finance talk’, the central idea is this: what if you could learn everything you need to know about life, from yourself? What if 65 year-old you could tell you – at age 20 – to stop buying so many cappuccinos and to invest more into an RA? And 30-year-old you could ask you at 80 how many kids you have – and how you afford to give them the lifestyle and opportunities you want for them?
Sonja Sanders, Head of Marketing and Client Experience at Sanlam Personal Finance, says each of the seven Conversations with Yourself films uses humour and insight to broach a different topic – and presents the accompanying product solve. “For example, the Conversation on Life and Retirement tackles retirement in a completely new way. Planning for retirement is often not a priority when you’re young. But what if you knew only 6% of South Africans are able to cover their monthly expenses once they retire? And what if you could ask your 65-year-old self whether you are one of the 6%? Would 20-year-old you still take that year off? Would you at age 30 still buy that flashy car?”
Using banter to bring home the fact that today’s decisions will define life when you’re older, the script takes a notoriously low-interest topic and makes it relatable.
The same goes for the highly sensitive topic of death, which no one wants to talk about — undoubtedly a problem in a country with an average age of death that stands at 64 years, and where 40% of the workforce is more likely to have cell phone insurance than life insurance.
Sanders says, “Conversations with Yourself takes an idea we’ve all had to the next level: The wish to fast-track into the future to see if our lives worked out the way we expected. Ultimately, you are your own partner in life. Everything you do now either benefits your future or jeopardises it. It’s often too daunting to imagine one’s future-self. But Conversations with Yourself connects the future to the present, and makes the experience real and impactful.”
Related: How To Start Saving Money Today
South Africa’s problematic savings culture has been well documented. In the retirement space, Sanlam’s Benchmark research has identified millennials as the generation most at risk of having insufficient savings, mainly due to their DIY approach to money matters, their mistrust of financial service institutions and the fact that they don’t identify with retirement as a goal. It’s a generation known for overconfidence despite their poor financial literacy. Millennials prefer self-directed advice – so what better way to deliver it than through a ‘conversation with yourself’?
“As WealthsmithsTM, Sanlam wants to empower people with the knowledge and tools to enable them to make positive financial decisions today. This should set them up for success both now and into the future. Conversations with Yourself helps people to appreciate that the planning they do today has significant implications for their future self. Ultimately, the campaign uses progressive storytelling to share a story to which any generation can relate. The story of you,” concludes Sanders.
Visit Conversationswithyourself to watch the films and start your own conversation.
10X-e Partners With Alphacode To Accelerate Five Top Companies In South Africa
South African Scale Up specialists, 10X-e, will partner with SA’s premier fintech incubator subsidiary of RMI, Alphacode to support SA’s top Fintech’s on their path to scale.
This collaboration will initially see five of SA’s highest-profile fintech companies investing two years scaling up using 10X-e’s much lauded 10X program. 10X-e’s founder, Jason Goldberg, says that this accelerator program helps scale-up teams learn and apply the 12 disciplines for rapid and sustainable growth.
“We are delighted to be working with AlphaCode – SA’s premier fintech support brand – to help some of SA’s top Fintech entrepreneurs scale-up” says Jason.
The first five elite fintech businesses selected to join the program are Entersekt, Livestock Wealth, Click2Sure, Invoice Worx and Isazi Consulting.
“Globally leading mobile authentication and security specialists, Entersekt are set to be South Africa’s next ‘unicorn’ while Livestock Wealth is changing the investment landscape by offering the ability to own and manage your livestock via an app from Sandton (or anywhere), outsourcing all the dirty work to their specialist operators. Click2Sure was founded by Dan Guasco – the original founder of what became Groupon SA, and Isazi Consulting (who started already in late 2017)is led by one of SA’s leading teams of data scientists and artificial intelligence experts” Jason continues.
“Another accolade for this cohort is that three of the five businesses are majority black-owned tech ventures, and most certainly earned their place on the program on pure merit terms. We’re really proud to be supporting these globally competitive entrepreneurs.”
Jason notes that, even for elite entrepreneurs and ventures like these, specialist scale-up accelerators like the 10X Program can be the difference between scaling and failing.
“There’s no doubt that accelerators specialising in how to scale a business are invaluable for most entrepreneurs at this delicate stage in a business journey. Growth often kills when businesses cross a threshold of complexity not experienced before. Most great entrepreneurs are scaling a company for the first time. Fortunately, there is a defined ‘physics’ of rapid growth; rightly applying the 12 Disciplines of 10X Entrepreneurs – the heart of the 10X Program – you can dramatically increase the rate and sustainability of growth,” he says.
“We are dealing with the ‘crème de la crème’ of South Africa’s entrepreneurs dealing with the most extreme growing pains, so the need for guidance from seasoned Scale Up leaders who’ve ‘been there’ is key to both the success of the business and to its contribution to our economy. We look forward to helping these Founders navigate the Bermuda Triangle of growth successfully” Jason concludes.
The partnership with Alphacode will see game-changing support provided to these businesses worth around R1million over a period of 2 years as they are hand-held by industry experts on the treacherous path to scale.
Scaling – the Bermuda triangle of growth – is hard, and fraught with failure. Very few of even the top 1% of ventures succeed at scaling, mostly due to poor execution, due to lack of experience scaling businesses. The 10X Program brings the ‘Science of Scale’ and seasoned Scale Up Leaders to help founders navigate the Bermuda Triangle of growth
Our team has helped some of the Continent’s most exciting high growth businesses scale up through the most treacherous parts of the journey. We tailor make multiple workshops to the specific needs of you, your team, and your business. Our workshops serve to address the most pressing challenges that your business faces, helping remove the hurdles towards 10X growth.
For more information on the 10X Accelerator Program, visit: www.10x-e.com
Chairman Of Futureproof, S’onqoba Maseko On Instilling New Ways To Accelerate Our Youths
In the near future, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. SA needs to prepare our children for the fourth industrial revolution, now.
Futureproof is proud to introduce the chairman of our board, S’onqoba Maseko. S’onqoba received her Honours Degree from Wits University and is just three exams away from being a fully-qualified Actuary. The 31-year-old S’onqoba, originally from the banking industry, has previously filled several key roles at The First Rand Group, including; executive assistant to the Group CEO, Sizwe Nxasana and the head of the FNB Innovators Programme.
She is the founding COO of the Sifiso Education Group – a disruptor in the education space which also is the owner of Future Nation Schools. S’onqoba is also the Managing Director of an advisory and implementation consultancy for SMME’s called Perpetu8.
Naturally, combining her skills and experience with a passion for education and entrepreneurship has made her the perfect fit for Futureproof! S’onqoba believes that education is crucial. “It’s a game changer for the nation, the continent and the globe. It requires us to prepare children for an uncertain future in the best way we know how,”
“In a country such as ours, Futureproof instils the entrepreneurial qualities needed to not only run a business but to navigate through life,” S’onqoba continues.
The current education system does not cater to the needs of our local and global economy. In the time of innovation, our teachers are not equipped to deal with this change and soon enough, traditional employment opportunities will no longer exist. Speaking to this topic, S’onqoba says: “It’s not about only content – you can Google anything. It’s about skills such as critical and analytical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and technology”.
With the lack of skills available to prepare our country for the fourth industrial revolution, S’onqoba says that we need to find ways to unearth existing skills and to impart new skills that are more aligned to what industry and the country needs. “We need to reframe our thinking: we need entrepreneurs, technical specialists, technology whizz kids. We need creatives, thinkers and solution-orientated problem solvers”.
“We need to make school content and theory relevant to the current and future world. We need a curriculum, approach and a pool of skills that align to the world and the future predicted. Grade 1 learners this year will finish school in 2030. Are we teaching them what they will need to succeed?”
She believes that the high unemployment rate of our youth is largely due to a lack of skills. “We have so many job vacancies yet so much unemployment. We still have companies wich only recruit based on formal qualifications and see this as the only way to have the required skills. This is outdated, and the world is moving beyond it”.
With South Africa now in technical recession, S’onqoba stresses the need for the country to pull up its boot straps and get on with the hard work that needs to be done. “Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is not working as well as it should. It’s broken. We’re spending billions as a country whilst seeing very little impact and return of that investment”.
Caring for the needs of all stakeholders, S’onqoba believes that one of the reasons for Futureproof’s success and phenomenal growth is because the business simply ‘gets on with it’. “No excuses, no time wasting” she explains.
As a flourishing entrepreneur in a tough economy, S’onqoba shares some of her key learnings and says that an entrepreneur cannot survive without grit, curiosity and EQ: “Set up a business for scale from day one – think of your end state and build your business with that in mind. Recruit people who ‘get it’ and then develop them to be the best version of themselves so that they can add great value to your business,”
“Fill your board with passionate, skilled specialists who don’t only look to monetary income but are driven by passion, community and purpose. Manage your time like its money; in fact, it’s more precious”.
We need to build sustainable businesses that employ more people and grow in revenue and turnover. “We need businesses that embrace the future and technology to solve the problems we face in an efficient and customer centered way without legacy and an inability to innovate standing in the way.” she concludes.
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