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Youngsters Step Up To Tech Entrepreneurship

Now in its fifth successive year, the Primestars Step Up 2 A Start Up programme continues to expose thousands of young South Africans to vital lessons in entrepreneurship.

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Each year the programme builds on global trends in entrepreneurship and seeks to inspire participants to explore these trends in the context of their surroundings, looking for business solutions to real problems in their communities. To date, the programme has reached nearly 65,000 learners nationwide.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, technology-based businesses will provide solutions to many of these problems, creating unprecedented opportunities on which youth can capitalise. As such, the theme chosen for this year’s Step Up 2 A Start Up programme is “Think Tech. Do Business”, encouraging learners to embrace technology as a platform for small business creation.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, the internet of things, augmented reality, virtual reality and more, are creating new industries, products, services and occupations at an extraordinary rate. While the industrial era offered a world of work that was largely predictable, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has ushered in an era of massive interconnectedness and boundless potential.

“Standard Bank is committed to entrepreneurship and we promote it among the Youth through exposing them to relevant financial skills that can turn their ‘hustle’ to commercial value and get them closer to their Next. The partnership with Step Up to A Start Up and Prime Stars Marketing complements the current Standard Bank ‘My Fearless Next’ campaign and our long-standing support of small businesses” said Thulani Sibeko, Chief Marketing Officer.

Related: 10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

“Sasol has once again come on-board as a national sponsor of the annual Step Up 2 A Start-Up initiative, aimed at providing secondary school learners with the right tools to become entrepreneurs. Sasol is supporting the programme for the fifth consecutive year. The theme for this year’s Step Up 2 A Start-Up is “Think Tech. Do Business”. High school learners will be challenges to come up with innovative ideas that speak to the theme and also recognise the era that we are in, which is that of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” said Abey Tau, Corporate Affairs, Sasol Social Investment.

Online platforms are improving how supply meets demand, digital machines are overcoming their past limitations and excelling beyond human capabilities and companies are outsourcing key aspects of business at much lower costs. As the cornerstone of this year’s Step Up 2 A Start Up programme, learners will be exposed to how technology lowers the barriers of entry, levels the playing field and enables start-ups to compete in an age of increasing automation.

“Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) is a proud partner of the Step Up 2A Start Up initiative.  Our involvement is based on a firm belief that this programme nurtures a culture of entrepreneurship among school learners from townships and rural areas. The programme is exposing them early to entrepreneurship attributes required to successfully venture into business. School learners also get a chance to start small enterprises and get to be exposed earlier to available support from Seda and other institutions.  We are mindful that these businesses will also face risks, some will fail, some will succeed and certainly, all learners that pass through this programme will remain potential and intentional entrepreneurs.  The lean methodology approach which is followed is an extremely practical, effective and fun for learners”- CEO of Seda Ms Mandisa Tshikwatamba.

“We are always happy to support initiatives that assist in creating sustainable enterprises that contribute to community upliftment and job creation. We also believe that this begins with our youth as our business leaders of the future. We are encouraged that our support of the Step Up to a Start Up programme will help to unearth some amazingly talented young innovators, who will go on to build sustainable businesses and industries in line with our national aspirations of creating home grown industrialists,” says Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, General Manager, MTN SA Foundation.

Sustainable economic development is only possible through small business development and new venture creation, and South African youth must be groomed to lead this charge. This is the sentiment expressed at the programme launched by Ms Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development, highlighting how youth can harness their digital future to build start-ups that will solve problems in their communities and the world at large. International businessman, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad and longtime advocate for the Step Up 2 A Start Up programme, Mr. Robert Kiyosaki, reinforced the need to develop entrepreneurial skills at a young age.

Related: Funding And Resources For Young SA Entrepreneurs

From the 18th of August to the 8th of September 2018, learners in Grades 9 – 11 will begin their journey into the world of tech entrepreneurship at one of 14 Ster Kinekor cinemas nationwide. Here they will enjoy a custom produced educational movie titled …, the story of a young lady who discovers technology, designs a business and changes her future and the future of her community. In addition, the lessons learnt in the movie will be reinforced through a Toolkit given to each participant. The Toolkit will assist the learners to implement the skills learnt and will allow them to develop their own business ideas and models.

As the Step Up 2 A Start Up programme enters its second phase, learners will be given the opportunity to compete in an entrepreneurial competition by submitting their business model canvasses for assessment and adjudication by a panel of industry professionals and sponsors. During this process, at least nine top business models will be identified and the teams responsible will be invited to attend a boot camp in Johannesburg. This boot camp will hone and polish participants’ skills as they start to think more about developing and starting their businesses based on the ideas they submitted. The boot camp concludes with a prestigious Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony.

Primestars believes that given the right assistance from passionate individuals and organisations, our youth will be able to create and develop new businesses, which in turn will have a positive impact on the economy and reduce the rate of youth unemployment in South Africa. We need to help our young people  realise that there are infinite possibilities available to them.

Organisations interested in supporting this initiative may contact Primestars Marketing.

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3 Stealthy Tax Hikes Payroll Managers And Employees Need To Take Note Of

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

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“Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.” 

The adage summarises the difficult decisions government and the Finance Minister faced when balancing the country’s books, rescuing state-owned enterprises, and reviving the growth of our economy. Given the economic pressure that most taxpayers are facing, government ideally needed to achieve all of that without direct increases to personal income tax in the most recent Budget Speech.

Personal income tax has comprised at least a third of South Africa’s total tax revenue in recent tax years, despite growing unemployment. The 2019 Budget, presented in February, forecasts that personal income tax will account for nearly 39% of tax collected during the upcoming (2019/20) tax year. Given that we are in an election year and that the tax base is fragile, it’s not surprising that the Finance Minister and the National Treasury avoided direct increases to the statutory tax tables used to calculate PAYE for employees in the budget.

Nonetheless, government has made inflation work in its favour to impose some tax increases by stealth. Here are three ways government is raising more revenue without direct tax increases:

1. Bracket creep

The statutory tax tables used by payrolls and employers have not been changed for 2019/20, nor have the brackets been adjusted for inflation. This effectively amounts to an indirect tax increase that will yield a revenue saving of approximately R12.8 billion for government’s coffers.

It is not unusual for government to use ‘bracket creep’ to effectively raise more revenue. But unlike previous tax years, even low- and middle-income earners are not getting much relief. Rebates and the tax threshold are being increased by small amounts to allow some relief, but many people this year will feel the pain as inflationary salary increases push them into a higher tax bracket.

2. Medical aid credit not adjusted for inflation 

As proposed in the 2018 Budget, the Finance Minister did not apply an inflationary increase to the Medical Tax Credit, which allowed him to raise an extra R1 billion in revenue for the year. Surprisingly, these funds will be allocated to general tax revenue rather than ring-fenced for healthcare. In previous tax years, revenue generated from below-inflation increases on medical scheme credits was used to fund National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot projects.

There is still no clarity on how the NHI is going to be funded except for a general statement that the funding model is a problem for the National Treasury to solve, and that the principles of cross-subsidisation will apply. One wonders if any real progress will be made soon, given the fiscal constraints government faces.

3. Business travel deduction left untouched

The Budget leaves the per-kilometre cost rates used to determine tax deductions for business travel untouched. By not increasing travel rates to account for inflation, government effectively increases income tax collection at the cost of the taxpayer. This will be a blow for people who need to claim from their employers for business travel in their personal vehicles. This change has slipped through largely unnoticed and the budget does not provide numbers for the expected increase in tax revenue.

Closing words

Amid political turmoil and uncertainty, the Finance Minister presented a balanced budget for 2019/20 that offers hope for the future along with some tough love. With government taking steps to accelerate economic growth and improve revenue collection, we should hopefully see a steady improvement in government finances, which will translate into less pressure on the taxpayer in future years.

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Entrepreneur Today

SMEs: Staying On The Right Side Of The Taxman

Remaining SARS compliant can be a constant challenge for small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs), especially when they are trying to focus on growing their businesses and streamlining their operations.

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EasyBiz Managing Director, Gary Epstein, says submitting taxes can be a seamless process that does not have to take up more time than is necessary. “If business owners understand what is required of them and they put a few processes into place to deal with their tax submissions properly, their lives will be so much easier.”

What are the top three considerations for SMEs when submitting tax returns?

“Firstly,” says Epstein, “SARS returns must be accurate and submitted in terms of the relevant Act. Secondly, returns should be submitted and paid on time to avoid unnecessary penalties and interest, and thirdly, business owners must follow up on queries issued by SARS. “Do not ignore these queries, act on them as soon as possible”.

What are the major SARS submission deadlines for SMEs?

Epstein points out that small business owners need to adhere to various tax deadlines, each with their own particular dates for submission. “It is important that business owners diarise the dates (and set advance reminders for themselves) and/or enlist the services of an accountant or financial adviser to help them keep abreast of requirements.”

Value-added tax (VAT)

VAT payments need to be submitted in the VAT period allocated to the business, according to various categories and ending on the last day of a calendar month. This may mean making payments once a month, once every two months, once every six months or annually, depending on the category.

Provisional taxes

Provisional tax should be submitted at the end of August (first provisional) and at the end of February (second provisional) – for February year-end companies.

Employee taxes

In addition to submitting an annual reconciliation (EMP501) for the period 1 March to end of February for Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Skills Development Levy (SDL) and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), employee tax, in the form of an EMP201 return, needs to be submitted by the seventh of every month.

When can SMEs get extensions and is it worth it?

Epstein says SMEs can apply for various extensions, but these are subject to the Income Tax Act and Tax Administration Act.

“It is best for SMEs to consult their tax professionals to get advice regarding extensions for their businesses.”

What is SARS not flexible about?

SARS is not flexible when it comes to late returns and late payments.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is for SME owners to ensure their tax returns are submitted on time. In this way, they will avoid the inconvenience and expense of additional fines and interest,” notes Epstein.

What skills do SMEs need in their organisations to be able to submit to SARS efficiently?

Business owners often don’t have the time or expertise to deal with tax submissions throughout the year. If the business cannot afford to employ a full-time accountant or financial services expert, it would do well to outsource its tax requirements to a registered tax practitioner.

“I would recommend that even if they are not submitting the tax returns themselves, business owners should have a broad understanding of the tax regulations and what is expected of them. There is a lot of helpful information on the various Acts and tax requirements on SARS’ website,” says Epstein.

How does the right software help SMEs remain SARS compliant?

SME’s (and their accountants’) jobs can be made easier by using reliable accounting software to calculate accurate VAT reports. These reports are only as accurate as the data entered into them, which means care needs to be taken when inputting data into the accounting programme. Epstein says a good accounting software package must be reliable, easy to use and functional.

“SMEs need to check that the software has thorough reporting capabilities and can interface with other software solutions. Of course, it is also important to find out whether the software is locally supported by the vendor or not.”

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4 Dangers Of Business Under-insurance

A common short-term insurance peril that many SMEs face when submitting a claim following an insured event is the risk of being underinsured.

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Malesela Maupa, Head of Products and Insurer Relationships at FNB Insurance Brokers says, many small business owners mistakenly believe that by merely having a short-term insurance policy in place they are adequately protected against unforeseen events.

“This is technically correct provided that the business is covered for the full replacement value of the items insured. However, in circumstances where the sum insured does not cover the full replacement value or material loss of the item insured, the business is underinsured,” explains Maupa, as he unpacks the dangers of business underinsurance:

1. Financial loss

The most common risk is financial loss on the part of the business. If the business is underinsured or the indemnity period understated, the short-term insurance policy will only pay out the sum insured for the stated indemnity period as stated in the schedule, with the business owner having to provide for the shortfall. This often leads to cash flow challenges, impacting profit margins or rendering it difficult for the business to recover following the financial loss.

2. Reputational damage

Should an underinsured business not have sufficient funds to replace a key business activity or critical component following a loss, this may impact its ability to fulfil its contractual obligations, leading to a loss of business or market share, and irreparable reputational damage in the worst-case scenario.

3. Legal action

A small business also faces the risk of customers or clients taking legal action against it, should it fail to deliver on goods and services following a loss or be unable to honour its financial commitments that they committed to prior to the loss.

4. Survival of the business

A catastrophic event such as fire, which could result in the loss of stock or company equipment and documentation, could threaten the survival of a small business that is not yet fully established, if the business assets are not adequately insured.

Working with an experienced short-term insurance broker or insurer is essential when taking up short-term insurance to ensure that business contents are covered for their full replacement value.

Furthermore, depending on the nature of the business or item insured, the policy should be reviewed on a regular basis to avoid underinsurance as the value of items often change overtime due to fluctuations in economic activity. Where it’s necessary, evaluation certificates need to be kept up to date.

“Lastly, SMEs should ensure that the sum insured does not exceed the replacement value, which would lead to over insurance. Should a business submit a claim following a loss, the insurer would only pay out the replacement value, regardless of the higher sum insured,” concludes Maupa.

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