The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, is shown around the 22 on Sloane campus in Johannesburg by the co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network, Kizito Okechukwu. I Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - The Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is the world's largest collaborative celebration of disruptive innovators and job creators who bring ideas to life, help improve human welfare, inspire hope for those like-minded and contribute significantly to economies across the planet.

For over a decade, GEW has continued to inspire entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem at large to start and scale, launch new programmes, advance progressive small medium enterprises policies, run entrepreneurial competitions and even award on-the-spot seed grants to various worthy start-ups. It is also platform that helps a community of incubators and accelerators find better and faster ways to support the development and growth of young businesses.

Many in the entrepreneurial space actually suggest that most of today's successful, high-impact start-ups once attended a GEW somewhere.

Annually, more than 173 nations, ten thousand partners and 10 million people globally participate in this much-anticipated and highly inspiring event, which runs from November 18 to 24.

Locally, dozens of stakeholders will be celebrating GEW in different parts of the country, while more than a thousand stakeholders and 500000 people will be celebrating across the continent. The GEW celebratory activities (at the 22 on Sloane start-up campus) are:

  • Yesterday: Agro-processing, energy, manufacturing, water - The opportunity to learn from experts, get informed on the latest industry trends and engage with various stakeholders.
  • Today: Connectivity - Find out more about Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things from IBM and Microsoft experts and also engage with disruptive tech start-ups in the FinTech, EdTech, HealthTech and InsureTech space.
  • Tomorrow: Mobile Gaming - Discover new trends in the gaming industry (mostly educational platforms) and engage with various experts and disruptive start-ups. Hack a Game - and learn how to build a game in just three hours.
  • Thursday: JSE - The JSE and 22 on Sloane are delighted to be a part of the official bell-ringing session to open the markets - and hopefully this will be symbolic of new markets and opportunities opening for entrepreneurs all over the world.
  • Friday: Celebrating entrepreneurs in fashion and design - This by invite-only evening fashion show, hosted in partnership with Edcon and Proudly SA, will showcase graduates from the Edcon Design Innovation Challenge and promises to dazzle with exhibits from South Africa’s young and upcoming talent.

With dozens of world leaders joining in to celebrate entrepreneurs during GEW, we encourage various ecosystem stakeholders, supporters and policymakers to fast-track sustainable efforts to ensure that innovative businesses in their communities and at large can start and scale, especially amid the burgeoning youth unemployment crisis in South Africa.

On the whole, Africa's youth population is set to rocket over the next few years and is predicted to become the highest on the planet. This means relevant interventions across the continent must start immediately to ensure the development, re-skilling and capitalisation of young people to make a meaningful living while playing a sustainable role in their country's economy.

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