JOHANNESBURG – You might think that with our currency lingering at low levels and unemployment spiralling upwards, South Africa risks looking like an ageing car broken down at the side of the road and badly in need of a jumpstart if it’s to move forward. But you’d be forgetting that sense of victory when you coax a “skedonk” back onto the road and tune it to run as good as new.
It was former statistician-general Dr Pali Lehohla who reminded us in a recent column that the SA Government’s 10-year scenario forecasting back in 2003, identified four possible scenarios – “S’gudi S’nais”, “Dulisanang”, “Shosholoza” and “Skedonk”. The Skedonk scenario envisaged “the emergence of both a very unfriendly outside world with an internally divided and dispirited society.”
As we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives, what matters here isn’t that the car stutters along and maybe even stops. It’s that we use our ingenuity and dogged determination to get to our destination.
This is the attitude we need to harness now to get South Africa’s economy, job creation and social cohesion back on the road to greatness. It’s something that every business in every sector can help tackle in its own way – in defiance of shaky consumer spending and unenthusiastic foreign direct investors.
At the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, President Cyril Ramaphosa had the strength to look into the eyes of his global counterparts and their top corporate giants and pledge South Africa’s potential as a “hot emerging market”.
On his state visit to India, our president exchanged dignified notes on how to pull a country up by its bootstraps with India’s President Narendra Modi. Some of these experiences will shape part of President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address on February 7 and the Budget on 20 February.
As our country’s leader, he knows he has to get the country’s economic motor roaring. He knows he must not be daunted by the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report for 2019 topping its list of South Africa’s key risks with high unemployment for the second year running.
The African Development Bank also made its own forecast on job creation across the African continent. It recently predicted that 12 million new jobs must be created annually for overall employment rates to remain where they are.
That underlines how great a factor job creation is in getting South Africa’s motor revving – and we can all help make that happen. New businesses creating new jobs and established businesses needing new jobs to help them grow could all contribute to making South Africa the “hot emerging market” it has the potential to be. New jobs make a personal difference at grassroots to every household that gains a breadwinner.
We don’t need to wait around for foreign investment to make this happen. If enough of us start on a smaller scale, we can create the momentum for growth. I have faith that South African business has this power to make a prosperous and positive contribution to our country’s development because I see the unsung successes of dozens of entrepreneurs every day in my work.
Some business bosses come to us at Deal Leader Africa to harness our know-how so they can harvest the fruit of their labour. They want to sell on the business that they’ve founded and grown to new owners who view its expansive future with great excitement. Other business leaders feel they have hit the growth ceiling and want the help of a new business partner so they can make their dream of expansion happen. Or they want to partner with a complementary business, giving both greater reach and a larger slice of the business pie in their sectors.
We have a transaction pipeline of almost R1 300 million. As each of those deals goes through, we see the growth ceiling being shattered, turnover increased and new jobs created. That is why every day I see again a reason to believe that if we all work to expand business and create jobs, together we can jumpstart SA and drive it forward as king of the road.
Andrew Bahlmann is managing director of Deal Leaders Africa. Deal Leaders Africa is a niche corporate finance advisor that works solely with and for the business owner. The views expressed here are Bahlmann’s.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE