Carol Koffman and Jonathan Liebmann in one of their #MixedTalents webinars on YouTube.
Carol Koffman and Jonathan Liebmann in one of their #MixedTalents webinars on YouTube.

New platform is ‘Uber’ for SA entrepreneurs

By HELEN GRANGE Time of article published Feb 18, 2016

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Technology solutions will be ‘a revolutionary resource’ for young people wanting to launch businesses, writes Helen Grange

In a country where the national unemployment rate is 25 percent, and even higher among the youth – 36 percent, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey – young entrepreneurs are gold.

However, for them to flourish, they need real solutions to the obstacles that all too often scuttle their efforts.

Much of the challenge for young entrepreneurs is finding the right funders, the right business partners and the right clients. The Yellow Pages is yesteryear, and Google showcases only the big players.

But now there’s a team of experts working on a transformative technological platform – a sort of “Uber” for entrepreneurs – that will enable thousands of South African youngsters to realise their dreams.

It’s the upshot of Samsung’s Mixed Talents campaign, part of its global “Launching People” drive, which identifies inspiring individuals with good ideas and seeks to find meaningful solutions to their challenges. In this case, the agreed solution is an advanced technological platform suited for South African start-ups, scheduled to launch next month.

The platform will probably be an app, website and a social media tool, and is being developed with the help of two of the country’s brightest minds – executive coach Carol Koffman and property entrepreneur Jonathan Liebmann, the man behind the Maboneng Precinct urban renewal project in Johannesburg.

Koffman says it will be a revolutionary resource for a mushrooming population of entrepreneurs trying to find their feet.

“We’ve already received over 2 000 ideas to create businesses, so this platform will be a growing repository for all those ideas,” she says. “We are evaluating and categorising each idea so we can offer a range of solutions matched to them.

“These include finding the right funding vehicle, sourcing the ideal mentor, finding a suitable business partner or staff, establishing whether a similar venture exists and, if so, how many and where they are. In other words, entrepreneurs will be easily routed to the best fit for their needs through this technology, and as it grows with more people using it, it will become smarter.”

Research conducted by Samsung into South African Millennials aged 18-35 affected by unemployment reveals that 49 percent feel they have good business ideas but don’t know how to capitalise on them.

Liebman adds that the platform will not only help entrepreneurs taking a first-time leap into their own business, but small operators needing to grow.

“It’s a start-up pack as well as a tool for service providers to grow from one- or two-man businesses to, say, 10- to 20-man operations,” he says.

Xhanti Payi, an economist at Nascent Research, supports the campaign, saying initiatives like this are the “key to enabling the youth with a way to access ideas, and technology like this is far more efficient than traditional methods”.

In the present depressed economic climate, large corporations are focusing on streamlining their operations and may be reducing their workforce. That is why South Africa will look to small enterprises to create jobs.

Samsung recently hosted a series of panel discussions with a number of leading professionals and entrepreneurs to unpack the issue of youth unemployment.

It was agreed that more needs to be done to support entrepreneurship.

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