Please note that applications for the Tholoana Enterprise Programme 2017 are now closed.

Do you desire to accelerate the success of your small business?

Would you benefit from a two-year programme of professional business development support

The SAB Foundation invites applications from viable, black-owned businesses wishing to be considered for the 2018 Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

More than 100 emerging entrepreneurs in all nine provinces have had their success accelerated and consolidated by this methodology since this innovative business support programme began in 2015.

“We are looking for the best of the best to apply for the 2018 Tholoana Programme, powered by Fetola,” said Bridgit Evans of the SAB Foundation. “We need your help in finding SA’s most exceptional entrepreneurs, those people who are passionate and determined to succeed, people like Bukelwa Ngoqo, the founder of Sunkissed Fashion at East London Airport.”
Bukelwa speaks enthusiastically about the programme: “The Tholoana team has enabled us to put our best foot forward, providing support in conceptualising ideas and channeling our focus. Their backing has given us the freedom to be bold, knowing that expert support is only a phone call, email or whatsapp away!”

Sixty small businesses are needed now to take their businesses to the next level. Does your business have significant potential to grow and make a positive contribution to the economy?
Applications are invited from businesses working in new and growing sectors such as export, manufacturing, food processing, water, energy and waste management.

With two years of practical, professional support including master mentors, applied business-skills workshops, access to markets, and qualified investment-readiness support on offer, results have been exceptional. High business growth, positive job creation and long-term improvement in business success rates are just some of the benefits for participants.

Women, youth and entrepreneurs with disability are strongly encouraged to apply. If your business has been in operation for at least six months and less than five years, you may be eligible for consideration.

Applications close on 30 November 2017.




The 24 winners of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2017 were announced in Johannesburg on Monday evening, 23 October 2017. The SAB Foundation has awarded over R9 million to these incredible small businesses.

Social Innovation Award Winners

The first prize of R1.3 million was awarded to GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth. GrassBeef, developed by Ntuthuko Shezi, is a new healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers. Livestock Wealth assists communities to produce good quality calves and provides an off-take agreement (by which they purchase the communities’ future production). The calves are then moved to a commercial farm setting and external investors are brought in to own the calves and provide for their upkeep. The new owner of the cow gets an annual return on investment of approximately 15% from the sale of the meat.

The second prize of R750 000 went to RailPro under the leadership of Ed Magan – the developers of the RailBusTM – a cost effective, low tariff transport solution that drives on road and rail. Using under-utilized rail networks both in South Africa and in many other countries, Rail Pro aims to deliver a lifeline to rural people and businesses. RailPro has won the SABS design excellence award.

In joint third place, with prize money of R500 000 each are ChemStart and Ivili Lloboya (Cashmere Production).

Development Awards (worth R400 000 each) were awarded to I-Drop Water and Abalobi and another two Development Awards (worth R300 000 each) were awarded to Commuscore and the Umgibe Growing System respectively.

10 Seed Grants of R150 000 were awarded to HearScope, Balambie, Auto Turtle, Iziko Stoves, Vuleka, Smart Agri Solutions, Seebox, Excel@Uni, Timu Trust and the Aqua Test Kit.

“The submissions for this year’s awards have been remarkable. It is our hope that they will go on to provide sustainable and scalable solutions for South Africa and beyond. We are proud of the role SAB Foundation plays by assisting innovators, both financially as well as with technical and business support,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

Disability Empowerment Award Winners

GreenABLE and Brownies& Downies were announced joint first place winners with R 1 million each.

GreenABLE is a non-profit company which strives to empower and develop disabled individuals while benefitting the environment; by training people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components for recycling. The company currently employs 34 people.

Brownies& Downies is a coffee shop and lunchroom which serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities and currently employs 36 people. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training.

The Rural Handbike for wheelchair users and Smergos were both awarded R400 000 in joint second place. Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Smergos creates a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs.

In joint third place with prize money of R150 000 each, are Finger Talk and Proxisee. Finger Talk is South Africa’s first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL) and the app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. Proxisee is a mobile app, which aims to bring a sense of “sight” and navigation to blind or visually impaired persons by means of audible (sound) and touch sensitive (vibrations) signals.

“To date 105 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the awards, which has resulted in 167% increase in jobs and a 245% increase in turn-over. We see these awards as the first step in what will be a long and fruitful relationship with these innovators and entrepreneurs. The intention of the Foundation is to see these valuable businesses through to commercialisation to the benefit of all South Africans” believes Evans.



Iziko Stoves: are innovative cooking and braai stoves that utilizes wood, coal or any biomass materials as the cooking fuel. Made from recycled paint cans, gas cylinders and geysers, these stoves are sold by rehabilitated substance abusers after completing their treatment. The organisation develops these substance abusers through a six week course, where they learn how to start their own businesses and be job ready. After completing the programme at a rehabilitation facility they sell the stoves on a commission basis.

Umgibe Growing System: is a patented, frugal, water-wise innovation conceptualised by Umgibe founder, Nonhlanhla Joye. The system was conceived through necessity and has evolved over the years, from a wooden structure into a recyclable, agro-ecological tool that supports new economy principles and the circular economy.

ChemStart: is a mini-science kit developed for high school learners. It contains 52 experiments, one for every week of the year, for continuous practical interaction with science concepts. The manual explains how to conduct experiments and links each concept with its everyday application in daily life, making science concepts easy to understand and grasp. This kit is small and affordable, thus accessible to parents who take their kids to the 86% of South African schools that have no laboratory facilities. Current available options are not accessible to the learners in these schools because they are simply unaffordable.


Excel@Uni: is an effective 4-pillar service provider that provides student monitoring, academic support, and mentoring and professional development services to previously disadvantaged university students who are sponsored by company bursaries or scholarship foundations.

Smart Agri Solution: builds rural localised agribusinesses anchored by an accredited ‘mini food factory’, which can then supply local, rural retail stores such as Spar or Shoprite. Smart Agri Solution provides aspirant rural farmers with innovative infrastructure and support to build “mini vegetable agro-processing businesses to supply retailers. Smart technology specifically designed for smallholders enables them to access a higher part of the food value chain than solo production would allow.

Balambie: is a cardboard baby cot which consists of three easy to assemble panels. The Balambies are made of a cost effective, environmentally friendly, safe and lightweight material. In addition they have selected key health messages printed on to inform mothers on how to care for their infant and identify health problems and where to go and whom to contact should they need help. The health information presented on the Balambie also serves as a day to day reminder and reference tool for the mother during the time that the Balambie is used.

Timu Trust: is an online platform that helps unemployed people prove they are trustworthy so that they can trade their available time for skills or an income. Timu Trust helps members build a professional online profile of trust and then connect members with opportunities within walking distance through which they can prove their trust, build credibility, gain experience and learn new skills. During every opportunity a member completes a job, Timu Trust captures performance data and feedback from all parties involved which is used to grow a member’s Trust Score. As members grow their Trust Score they unlock more challenging and better rewarding opportunities.

Abalobi: brings together various stakeholders in the fisheries sector, with traditional, small-scale fishing communities taking centre stage. Abalobi’s objective is to empower small-scale fishing communities to use ICTs to engage in a range of activities that enable them to participate fully, equitably and effectively in small-scale fisheries governance. It also aims to ensure equitable beneficiation through participation in a fully, traceable, fair and inclusive value chain that secures equitable and sustainable sea food with a story.

AutoTurtle: is an automated micro solar power station where the solar panels fold-away away automatically for extra security. This container-based solution is assembled off-site then deployed by simply offloading and pressing a button. Folding and unfolding the solar panels towards the sun is automated. The purpose of these solar containers is to provide secure, reliable, green power to communities in areas that otherwise have no hope of electricity due to crime.


I-Drop Water: was formed in 2015 to build a sustainable, environmentally-friendly business solution to the lack of access to safe, affordable drinking water in Africa and around the world. I-Drop builds and installs specially designed water purification and dispensing machines (which can purify municipal, rain or borehole water) in grocery stores at no cost to shop owners. The I-Drop machine purifies water which shoppers can then use to refill their own containers at 20% of the cost of bottled water.

RailPro: makes Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs), trucks that travel on road as a regular vehicle using normal rubber tyres and on rail with a retractable set of axles and steel rail wheels. RailPro was awarded the Design Excellence Award by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

hearScope: is a low cost, user-friendly smartphone-based otoscope used to diagnose ear disease. Its camera and optics allow high quality video and image footage of the eardrum and links to a cloud-based analysis system for automated diagnosis of the five most common ear conditions. Its simple user-interface and application means anyone can record images for an automated diagnosis that can ensure preventative treatment.

Vuleka: is an app, through which Spaza shop owners can place orders for fast moving consumer goods that they sell. Vuleka aggregates the different orders of the different goods, allowing for combination bulk purchases. Bundling these good together in bulk purchases enables Vuleka to obtain discounts, which are then passed on to the individual shop owners. The app is linked to a virtual wallet payment system, meaning that the payments are cashless. Upon payment the purchases are delivered to the shop owner’s premises.

GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth: is a new healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers. Livestock Wealth assists them to produce good quality calves where Livestock Wealth provides an off-take agreement. The calves are then moved to a commercial farm setting and external investors are brought in to own the calves and provide for their upkeep until they reach slaughter age of 30 to 33 months. After 24 months the calf is mature enough for slaughter as grass-fed, hormone free beef and the new owner of the cow gets a return on investment from the sale of the meat. At the current market prices, the owner of the mature cow will earn a return of 15% per annum on their investment.

Seebox: is a self-paced educational tool that teaches electronic principles, problem solving and abstract thinking in the form of a game to children and students. The Seebox solution consists of an electronic hardware device, Windows and Android apps and educational content in the form of videos, experiments, math modules, etc. Learners watch videos to learn the concepts of electronics, progressing through a game. Each level has practical experiments where Seebox measures the outcome. If successful, they can proceed to the next level. The aim is practical understanding, not just theoretical knowledge.

CommuScore: makes it easy to manage stokvels and captures member’s patterns in paying regular stokvel contributions. The captured data is then used to create a model credit score that banks can use as an alternative credit score. People with no credit scores will be included into financial wealth of South Africa and banks will now have access to this challenging market segment.


Ivili Loboya (Cashmere Production): The CSIR discovered that the upgrading of the two fleece-coated South African indigenous goat, produces a fine undercoat of fibre during the winter season that is equivalent to Chinese cashmere. Ivili Loboya has implemented and improved the innovation and through its cashmere and wool manufacturing hub, that sources cashmere from local farmers, using app-based logistics and management technology, processes the fibres in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, and trains and works with rural enterprises to weave, knit, and sew cashmere yarns into textiles and finished products for sale in local and international markets.

Aqua Test Kit: is a faecal contamination screening technique for drinking water. Aqua-Test is a simple, rapid and inexpensive screening test for faecal pollution in rural water supplies, rivers and streams without a need for a laboratory. It is a low cost method with a colour change which is easy to read and can be used by minimally trained people with no formal education.


FingerTalk: is South Africa’s first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL). The app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. The app teaches users the basics of SASL, allows them to search for signs or take lessons, play a quiz to test their knowledge against other users, and features a notice board by which users can receive important communication regarding the deaf community. The app has helped many people learn to communicate with their loved ones, and also has an exciting development roadmap ahead.

GreenABLE: is a non-profit company which strives to empower and develop disabled individuals while benefitting the environment; by training people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components for recycling. GreenABLE is the only facility in Africa to have a recycling solution for empty printer cartridges and provides workplace training for disabled individuals as well as offering scholarships, enabling them to attend “school leaving certificate courses” and giving them an opportunity to access the job market.

Smergos: is the brain-child of Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos, and is dedicated to creating a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs. The aim is to offer a range of bags that fit neatly onto any wheelchair, giving the customer a safe and easily-accessible way of carrying their belongings.

Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Hand Bikes currently produces two models that simplify transfer and accessibility to and from a wheelchair. The basic design, made with easy maintainable and robust parts, makes this product unique and affordable for individuals living with a disability.

Brownies&Downies: is a coffee shop and lunch room that’s open to the general public and serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training. Once the trainees are fully trained, Brownies&Downies attempts to place them with employers requiring their skills.

ProxiSee: is a mobile app, which aims to bring a sense of “sight” and navigation to blind or visually impaired persons by means of audible (sound) and touch sensitive (vibrations) signals. The signals which are activated based on proximity to beacons located within buildings, offices, complexes and public transport interchanges.



The South African Breweries (SAB) announced today it will help create thousands of jobs in South Africa and increase opportunities for entrepreneurs to become part of its supply chain through its key entrepreneurship programmes.

From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and create a total of 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2021 using its entrepreneurship programmes – SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Thrive and SAB Accelerator, as well as its agriculture programmes to grow emerging farmers.

The company offers a comprehensive and holistic package of entrepreneurship support to develop small businesses from ideation to growth, transforming the supply chain, as well as investing in the potential of entrepreneurs in the broader community. Applicants to the programmes will go through a selection process.

Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President for AB InBev Africa and SAB, says: “We are committed to making a substantial contribution towards South Africa’s national agenda of growing the economy through creating jobs and reducing unemployment, particularly amongst our youth. As a business that started out as an entrepreneur itself, we strongly believe that entrepreneurship is the most appropriate response to this issue and will help to galvanise the economy.

“We recognise that job creation is top of mind amongst South Africans. As one of the country’s leading corporates with a deep sense of pride, and a belief in the future of our country, we have not only a responsibility to help, but a duty to improve the lives of people in communities. We will do this through a range of initiatives, including providing real, authentic and sustainable jobs that we can measure going forward,” says Tadeu.

The commitment to create 10 000 jobs is over and above the Public Interest Commitments (PIC) that SAB’s agreed last year with government after the business combination between AB InBev and SABMiller. Job creation is embedded in the company’s business strategy which focuses on fostering a better world where everyone has an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. The three key priorities of this strategy are job creation; promoting nutrition and health; and reducing harm caused by the misuse of alcohol.

“This is an important vote of confidence in South Africa and a commitment to improve the lives of its people, as well as to invest and participate in expanding the country’s economy,” says Tadeu.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO Tanya Cohen says BUSA congratulates SAB on this welcome initiative. “Systemically supporting entrepreneurship opportunities within SAB’s supply chain will make a meaningful contribution to enterprise development and job creation – both of which are critical to transformation for inclusive economic growth,” she says.

Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in a message, commended SAB’s efforts in bring change to communities. “Your commitment as a corporate citizen to job creation, the empowerment of people and reduction of harm. Business and government can work together to create the better life that we seek to secure for all South Africans.

In the face of poverty, unemployment and inequality, your ambition to create 10 000 sustainable jobs is an important investment in our economy and society.

SAB’s focus on entrepreneurship is a commendable step towards inclusivity and sustainability in our economy and is one that will be rewarded with the unearthing of the energy and talents of those who will benefit from this programme.”

Edith Vries, Director General for the National Department of Small Business thanked SAB for the role it is playing in supporting entrepreneurs. “Small businesses are at the heart of economies that grow. Our young people need the experience and they need someone to give them an opportunity. I want to thank and salute SAB for providing that opportunity and helping them with that first step.

“I also want to commend SAB for the commitment to create 10 000 jobs over the next 5 years and of your entrepreneurship programmes that you are using to drive this objective. Through SAB’s leadership we can build a new cadre of entrepreneurs into the future.”

Barbara Creecy, Gauteng MEC for Finance, acknowledged SAB’s contribution to developing entrepreneurship and creating jobs in the province. “We recognise the role that SAB is playing in the economic development of the Gauteng province. The organisation’s entrepreneurship programmes are contributing to entrepreneurship development in the province. It is exciting to participate in launching an initiative that integrates all of these programmes across the value chain.

“SAB stands together with us in acknowledging that unemployment, poverty and job creation are the most important challenges facing our country today. Whether we are in government or civil society, we need to create meaningful opportunities to increase economic participation amongst young people.”

Driving the ambition to create 10 000 jobs is a call to action to all entrepreneurs through a mass media Entrepreneurship Campaign, beginning with a television commercial launched this past weekend. The commercial centres on the concept of how ‘One Idea’ can ignite and spark a nation to heed the call to try its hand at entrepreneurship in order to build a better South Africa for all.

“We believe in the power of one idea which is sparked within each entrepreneur and we are committed to supporting these businesses and the potential they hold to bring positive change in people’s lives. We back entrepreneurs 100%,” says Doreen Kosi, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at AB InBev Africa and SAB.

SAB also hopes in the future to call to action other corporates in South Africa to expand opportunities for real job creation.

‘We hope that our campaign and efforts in the entrepreneurship space will inspire others to support the creation of more jobs in South Africa,” says Kosi.

The SAB Entrepreneurship Programmes will visit six cities across South Africa during a roadshow in the month of October. Details will be available on SAB’s social media platforms.



The programme has been running since 1995 and focuses on youth owned businesses. It is focused on investing in youth entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
The programme backs black entrepreneurs with existing, emerging businesses in key industries that are aligned to supply chains.

There are two programmes within the SAB KickStart offering – SAB KickStart Boost and SAB KickStart Ignite.

SAB KickStart Boost is a supply chain readiness programme that’s built around a key objective: Enabling high potential youth owned business to become suppliers of various organisations in the private and public sector, thereby fast-tracking the transformation of the economy. We back entrepreneurs with existing, emerging businesses in key industries to be ready for and to access supply chains, and as a result grow into sustainable businesses that create jobs.

SAB KickStart Ignite supports disruptive innovators that have innovative businesses and products that have high potential to grow into viable businesses that can solve our business challenges and can grow to be future creators of employment. Eligible entrepreneurs receive technical product and business development support which includes one on one mentoring, prototyping, commercialisation, and financial support where required. SAB KickStart Ignite acts as a pipeline of entrepreneurs for more advanced programmes such as SAB KickStart Boost.


The SAB Foundation is an independent trust founded to benefit historically disadvantaged individuals and communities, primarily but not exclusively, through entrepreneurial development in South Africa. It is one of three beneficiaries of SAB’s BBBEE transaction, SAB Zenzele, established in 2010. Key beneficiary groups include women, youth, people in rural areas and people with disabilities.

The long term vision underpinning the SAB Foundation is to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship and social innovation in South Africa as a source of economic growth and a primary source of innovation and job creation.

The focus is on investing in entrepreneurs outside of the value chain and across the country with a particular emphasis on businesses outside major metropolitan areas.

There are two offerings for entrepreneurs within the SAB Foundation – the Social Innovation Awards and Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

The Social Innovation Awards invest in innovative business ideas that can solve social problems. This includes, but is not limited to energy, water, health, education, housing and food security. The Disability Empowerment Awards is a special category for innovation that benefits people with disabilities.

The Tholoana Enterprise Programme is a two year business support and capital grant programme to assist micro and small enterprises to grow and create jobs.


The SAB Thrive Fund is an Enterprise & Supplier Development (E&SD) Fund set up and funded by SAB to transform the company’s supplier base. The Fund has been established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a Black Private Equity Fund Manager and SMME investment company. The SAB Thrive Fund’s mandate is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers such that they become more representative of our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive Fund Investees benefit from 100% Black equity capital and business support.


The key objective of SAB Accelerator is to grow SAB’s supply chain to be inclusive of black-owned, especially black women-owned businesses. To achieve this an incubator consisting of 10 business coaches and 10 engineers, who are dedicated to growing these suppliers, has been created. SAB Accelerator will partner with the company’s suppliers and provide coaching and technical expertise, which in turn will help them understand the SAB landscape, its value chain and integrate them into our business. Simply put, SAB Accelerator is a team of people who are dedicated to help black-owned suppliers improve and grow their businesses and in doing so, create much needed jobs.


SAB and AB InBev Africa have committed to establishing thriving barley, hops, maize and malt industries in South Africa that strengthen rural employment and job creation, accelerate the development of emerging farmers and enable SA to become a net exporter of hops and malt by 2021. In addition, SA’s technological and innovation base will be strengthened to improve the productivity of emerging and commercial farmers and create new business opportunities. The company will invest R610-million during this period in developing the capacity of new emerging and commercial farmers and increase the amount of local barley that is malted. The strategic intent is to create at least 2 600 new farming jobs in SA.



The SAB Foundation has formed a partnership with HeePD (Hub Employment Ecosystems for People with Disabilities), with a contribution of R2 100 000.

Launched in February 2017, HeePD seeks to benefit people with disabilities by creating a Hub ecosystem that provides employment, enterprise and innovation, including job prospects and placements for corporate partners.

“HeePD came in to being based on my own experience as a person with a disability, as well as from my observations as someone who’s worked in, and recruited for the corporate world. HeePD is a way of equalising the playing field for people with disabilities on a meaningful level, by addressing the main issues facing people with disabilities in getting jobs – creating permanent jobs in convenient locations and providing transport”, explains Founder of HeePD, Riad Masoet.

“The government target is to have 7.5% of people with disabilities employed in corporate South Africa. The actual employment figure is closer to 1%”, says Masoet.

“Our goal, with the help of the SAB Foundation, is to create 100 jobs over the next two years with this pilot project. Naturally those 100 jobs will have an exponential positive effect in the community”.

The partnership came about as part of the SAB Foundation’s focus on building opportunities for some of the most vulnerable of South Africa’s society, particularly people with disabilities.

“The SAB Foundation is committed to supporting projects aimed at uplifting people with disabilities and HeePD is absolutely groundbreaking. It’s the first project of its kind – and we are delighted to contribute to its success with funding. It is our hope that this pilot will prove the beginning of a successful model that can be replicated elsewhere”, says Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation.

This working pilot project with HeePD focuses on three distinct areas; the establishment of contact centres and help desks, urban farming and recycling.

“We’ve started upgrading the infrastructure to create the ecosystem at our pilot site – the Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled in Bridgetown, Athlone. We’ll be offering skills development and training, bridging courses for students and jobs for people with disabilities here”, explains Masoet. “Eventually companies will be able to support their services with our contact centres and help desks, staffed by people with visual and hearing impairments”.

The urban farming project is up and running and the infrastructure development for the recycling project is under way.

Ultimately HeePD aims to establish 20 more hubs by 2020. In addition to the hubs, HeePD will also be providing transport with its ZiPD shuttle service which is launching towards the end of June.

“At the moment we have two vehicles and will be operating in the Cape Flats for now, but hope to roll this out further”, says Masoet.


This article was originally published in BusinessDay. Written by Owen Skae.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is repeating the threadbare mantra of creating more jobs, boosting entrepreneurship and growing SA’s economy, which has grown just 1% a year in real per-capita terms over the past 25 years.

SA is not even out of the starting blocks of what could be achieved in the country. If the conditions for entrepreneurship were improved just 10%, another $176bn could be added to the economy — almost half of its current worth.

This is according to a recent report commissioned and funded by the SAB (South African Breweries) Foundation and Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, in partnership with The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, The Global Entrepreneurship Network SA and SEA (Sustainable Entrepreneur Accelerator) Africa.

The report, The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of SA: A Strategy for Global Leadership 2017, emphasises entrepreneurship should not be confused with self-employment.

Entrepreneurship is about aspiration, opportunity and start-up growth by people aiming to achieve high-growth businesses and create employment.

Conversely, in economies with major challenges around job creation, too many people are forced into self-employment because they do not have a choice. These economies experience a negative relationship between total entrepreneurial activity and GDP growth.

An increase in total entrepreneurial activity leads to a reduction in GDP growth, the opposite of what should be achieved. A reduction in activity means the global entrepreneurship index is increasing, resulting in an increasing GDP growth rate as well. The ideal situation is low total entrepreneurial activity and a high global entrepreneurship index.

The report refers to SA as an entrepreneurial leader in sub-Saharan Africa that has produced some of the most innovative and successful enterprises on the continent. It says SA provides better conditions for entrepreneurship than 20 countries that have a higher per-capita GDP — including Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand.

But there are too many areas in which SA falls down on key issues. The report gauges the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It states that while SA is able to compete on the global stage and, while the businesses that start are very competitive, there is not enough new-business growth because the country is very weak on start-up skills, risk capital, technology absorption, human capital, social capital and unicorns (start-up companies valued at more than $1bn, such as Uber, Snap, Airbnb, Dropbox and Xiaomi).

The lack of supportive infrastructure for start-ups including the abysmal performance of the Small Business Development Ministry, not only limits the development and success of start-ups but also reduces the level of innovation achieved in the economy.

The first major South African problem the report observes is "the demographic structure of the country, with almost 50% of the population under 24, youth unemployment close to 50% and unemployment of 25%. A young population could be an advantage for a country, even a large advantage. Young people are more energetic, more ambitious, and should be better educated than the older population. However, a young population also poses challenges for a country," the report reads.

"Human development and education are crucial for a young population if they are to achieve their dreams and if a country is to benefit from their vitality. A country that has the demographic structure of SA should make education the number one priority for all of South Africans. This is not a quick fix but it is the only policy that cannot be ignored."

Education should include young people being educated about business and what it means to be entrepreneurial in an interesting and inspiring way. This should start when they enter school and continue all the way through to matric and beyond. At university or higher-education level, much more needs to be done to embed entrepreneurialism in the curriculum across all faculties and all disciplines. A key part of transforming education is to produce graduates with the mindset of being employers rather than the current mindset of being employed.

The report observes SA has not made much progress in improving the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem or its constituent components according to the global entrepreneurship index data.

"SA should be the easiest country in Africa to start a business on account of its well-developed infrastructure, not the hardest," it reads. The ease of starting a business in Mauritius is a far cry from what is required in SA.

Another major problem the report cites is that while SA is stronger than most of its peer countries in competition, product and process innovation (more like China than Russia or Brazil) when it comes to technology absorption and human capital, it is more like Russia and Brazil.

SA lacks the skills required "to close the distance to the frontier gap: the distance to the frontier is the difference between countries that are using the best technologies and those that are not", the report states.

"We live in a digital age. Any country that does not embrace the digital age will fall behind the technological frontier and will not be able to compete in the global economy.

"SA must make digital technologies, broadband, smartphones and mobile phones available to the whole population and make it available quickly, cheaply and easy to use. The 2014 UK Digital Inclusion Strategy states that ‘helping more people to go online can also help tackle wider social issues, support economic growth and close equality gaps’."

SA achieves 33% on the overall global entrepreneurship index score. It ranks 55th out of 137 countries globally and second in sub-Saharan Africa behind Botswana.

The report concludes that top actions that could strengthen the ecosystem include helping more entrepreneurs get the skills and education they need; expanding access to banking, particularly mobile banking, to empower traditionally excluded entrepreneurs (such as the informal sector); and accelerating technology absorption with a focus on digital technology.



South Africa is ranked 55 out of 137 countries globally in a study by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI).

This article was originally published on Fin24. Read the full article here. Written by Lameez Omarjee.

The study was commissioned by South African Breweries (SAB) and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation which released the report, “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of South Africa: A Strategy for Global Leadership Report”.

South Africa is included in the top 25% of countries globally. Its strengths include competition – as 53% of new businesses are competitively positioned, the global average for this is 43%. And 52% of new businesses offer new products, this is above the global average of 40%. About 57% of new businesses use new technology, whereas the global average is at 47%.

South Africa’s depth of capital market scores 75, where the global average is at 41. “Deep capital markets provide the highest tier of financing, while improving access to finance at lower levels could improve the country’s conditions considerably,” said the report.

The report shows South Africa provides better conditions for entrepreneurship than 20 countries that have higher per capita GDP. These include Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand. In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is second to Botswana as a front-runner in entrepreneurship in the region. South Africa is still ahead of Namibia, Gabon and Ghana.

According to the report, the country is on par with other middle-income countries around the world when it comes to entrepreneurship. It also provides the institutional support needed for high-growth businesses to start-up and thrive, said the report.

Entrepreneurs in South Africa have overcome structural factors such as the slow GDP growth, and competition from larger firms dominating the business market. South African entrepreneurs excel at “spotting” opportunities, product and process innovation, high growth potential, risk acceptance and internationalisation.

However, its weakest area is start-up skills, followed by low-risk capital, weak technology absorption and human capital.

“The country is poised to achieve further growth in years to come through entrepreneurship,” said the report.

This is the opposite of trends observed about the misconceptions about South Africa’s lack of entrepreneurship and perceived poor performance against other countries, said SAB Foundation Director, Bridgit Evans.

The report suggests that South Africa needs to help more entrepreneurs get skills and education needed, access to banking must be expanded, especially mobile banking. Further, improving technology absorption through the focus on digital technology is needed. Improving the conditions for entrepreneurship by ten percent could add $176 bn (R2.3trn) to the economy, the report said.