Palesa Phili is the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
DURBAN -  As the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) draws to a close, we are left to reflect on the fact that the story of being a local entrepreneur is still unfolding.

As South Africans, we all need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and learn how to be resilient, agile, creative thinkers who provide solutions to socio-economic challenges, especially those unique to our region and relevant to our continent. 

In last week’s column, I unpacked two of the four global themes of GEW, namely, education and ecosystem and for this week’s column, I will consider policy and inclusion.

An ongoing topic revolving around the national and local discourse related to entrepreneurs, is South Africa’s need to create and introduce policies and strategies that will encourage, empower and enable entrepreneurs to actively participate in inclusive and sustainable economic activity that allows them to flourish.

The South African government, at all levels, needs to create a conducive business environment that is tailored to the unique operational requirements of local entrepreneurs, who currently are forced to operate under the same conditions as traditional businesses and larger corporates.

As a country, we need to learn and adapt from the practical successes of other countries who have efficiently transitioned into entrepreneurial and start-up hubs where entrepreneurs can prosper and develop.

An example of a forward-thinking policy is in Sweden, where the government implemented policies that encourage entrepreneurs to start their new venture with a six month safety net. The policy grants new entrepreneurs a leave of absence of up to six months from their current employer to start their new company, and if that new start-up fails, the employee has the option of returning to their old job.

This policy encourages entrepreneurs to start their new ventures, but also provides a safety net as lack of security, especially in a constrained economy, is a massive deterrent to new entrepreneurs.

By introducing future-focused policies like this as well as simplifying and reducing the lead times for new business registration and licensing as well as introducing tax reforms and incentives will drastically improve the ease and cost of doing business for entrepreneurs.

Also, the government is not alone in supporting entrepreneurs as the private sector has a crucial role to play to ensure that these new entrepreneurs are included in the value chains and supply chains across various industry sectors.Corporates need to ensure that they adopt corporate policies and governance procedures that incorporate efforts that minimise barriers and obstacles for entrepreneurs to participate in economic activity as well as maximise the inclusion of previously disadvantaged groups and communities.

Support is needed to encourage entrepreneurs to develop and uplift their local communities and positively contribute to the economy through economic activity.

During 2019 GEW, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted two Enterprise and Supplier Development Workshops on 20 and 21 November, so that entrepreneurs and emerging businesses were exposed to the opportunities available to do business with private and public entities. The lack of experience and practical exposure to such opportunities are significant barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and start-ups so by engaging them we can actively equip them with knowledge and skills that will empower them to fulfil their vital role in our economy, especially in terms of job, opportunity and wealth creation.

Palesa Phili is the chief executive of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

BUSINESS REPORT