The co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Kizito Okechukwu.  I  Supplied
The co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Kizito Okechukwu. I Supplied

OPINION: South Africa starts its path to glory

By Kizito Okechukwu Time of article published May 15, 2019

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JOHANNESBURG - With the elections done and dusted, all eyes will now be on the governing party to deliver on its election promises, mostly underlined by “Let’s grow South Africa together”.

For most people, especially the previously disadvantaged, this translates into creating much-needed jobs. Yet these can only be created by supporting small businesses and drastically reducing the sticky red tape engulfing them, improving service delivery, sustaining good governance and, most importantly, attracting investment into the country.

My article last week included a survey conducted with 3000 small businesses and ecosystem stakeholders that revealed crucial data on what start-ups want in return for their vote.

Also in the survey were voting outcomes. The participants predicted 60percent for the ANC, 18percent for the DA and 8.5percent for the EFF. The result was not far off, seeing 57.5percent for the ANC, 20.7percent for the DA and 10.7percent for the EFF. This means that what our small businesses and the entrepreneurship ecosystem think and say should be taken seriously and their pain points should be a top priority on the President’s to-do list.

As the continent's economic powerhouse, South Africa has faced many challenges, many of which are quite common across the globe.

These include bad governance, the rise of rightists and leftists, youth unemployment and being too inward-focused. Countries which fail to radically address these, do so at their peril.

Yet challenges open the doors to opportunity, such as creating new thinking, new processes, procedures and protocols, while offering totally transparent accountability.

So now is the ideal time to question more and critique more.

Many African countries will still experience this transition and the youth across Africa will continue to rise and fight for their rights, holding government to public account.

I believe that South Africa is one of the best democracies in the world. Although it’s one of the most (if not the most) unequal socio-economic countries in the world, its democratic structures and processes are strong enough to rectify this, especially if the elected President takes the baton.

In his speech at the IEC centre on Saturday, he assured the media to go and rest and leave the work to them, which has instilled hope and faith in many everyday South Africans.

Last week, we hosted 16 MBA students from the George Washington University at 22 on Sloane to learn, observe and engage.

After interacting with them, I quickly realised just how many people of all ages across the globe still have high hopes for South Africa.

These students could have chosen many other countries to visit, but they chose South Africa, because they wanted to understand what makes our entrepreneurship ecosystem tick, how it connects with the rest of the continent and what opportunities exist within the ecosystem.

They also reviewed ideas and the challenges faced by a few select entrepreneurs and devised solutions to address these.

As a country, we have so much to be proud of and I hope that we are a working model for the continent on how best to conduct free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections - and always put the will of the people first!

The future is ours and only we can make it bright.

I wish the new administration the very best on their path to make South Africa great again.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.


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