by Ciaran Fagan

Being an entrepreneur

Global Entrepreneurship Week to be embraced to inspire SA entrepreneurs

The quality of entrepreneurs is improving each year

South Africa’s entrepreneurial activity over the past eight years has shown vast improvement, despite the various challenges that aspiring entrepreneurs have faced.

According to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, not only has the competition witnessed an increase in interest in entrepreneurship from South Africans, but the quality and innovation of entrepreneurial entities has also improved. 

Botes says that in light of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is celebrated between the 12th and the 18th of November this year, the quality of South Africa’s entrepreneurs should be recognised in order to develop a stronger entrepreneurial culture in the country, as we seem to be lagging in comparison to other developing countries. 

He says that proof of the improving quality of entrepreneurship in South Africa is the calibre of entrants in 2012 for the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, which improved tremendously in comparison to the 2011 entries.

William Duk, winner of the 2012 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year competition, and owner of Plantation Shutter Co, says that entrepreneurship is the opportunity to take control of one’s own destiny and follow ones dreams. “It also allows an entrepreneur to go out there and really make a tangible difference to people’s lives in South Africa by generating employment.”

He says that this was more than emphasised by the fact that the 22 entrepreneurial finalists of the competition employ over 1200 people. “Overall, in percentage terms, SME’s provide over 50% of the formal employment in South Africa, which is extremely significant. The bottom line is that entrepreneurship is not always the easiest path to follow, but it is a deeply satisfying and rewarding to be making a difference.”

The finalists that were selected operate in various sectors, the most prominent being the manufacturing and services sectors. “The entries from the manufacturing sector are particularly encouraging and show that South African entrepreneurs are not afraid to enter this vital job-creation sector, even in the current economic climate,” says Botes.

Botes says that it is crucial for aspiring South African entrepreneurs to take note of the successes being celebrated by their global counterparts during Global Entrepreneurship Week. “Local entrepreneurs need to use the week as motivation to become better at spotting and taking advantage of ‘entrepreneurial gaps’ in specific industries, in order to create sustainable businesses and foster job creation.

“As South Africa’s economic prosperity relies heavily on the actions and successes of  its existing and future entrepreneurs, spotting these gaps is crucial  for the country.”

He says that by uplifting local entrepreneurial role models, communities within South Africa will be able tobuild a society that appreciates entrepreneurial activity. “Bill Gates for example had a significant impact with creating Microsoft in Seattle in the 1970s. Local entrepreneurs who have excelled in their industries are admired by others and inspire community members to start businesses within or outside the community or industry.”

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