Investors share insights at first Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in Africa

The Global Entrepreneurship Congress gave entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to investors. Others got a chance to hear insights from business experts from all over the world.

global entrepreneurship congress
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa cuts the ribbon to open the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg on 14 March 2017. With him is Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu (far left), the conference’s chief executive officer Jonathan Ortmans, Minister Aisha Abubakar of Nigeria (on right) and Tourism Deputy Minister Tokozile Xasa. (Image Melissa Javan)

Melissa Javan
Look at how you can execute and get traction with the resources that you have, advised one of the investors at a session during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC).

The GEC, a Global Entrepreneurship Network event, took place in Johannesburg from 13-16 March 2017. Speaking at the opening, Lindiwe Zulu, minister of small business development, said: “We’re proud that this conference is here on the African continent for the first time.”

According to a GEC press release, people from more than 170 countries from all over the world attended the congress. There were 3,000 delegates, according to Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

Meet to share ideas

Speaking at the official opening on 14 March, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said delegates were meeting to share ideas. One of the reasons for this was to rekindle hope “for our people for a better tomorrow”.

The GEC was a platform for African entrepreneurs to connect with global investors, he said. “I invite you to put your best foot forward; shine in front of these investors.”

He challenged Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba to help small, medium and micro enterprises to thrive by reducing the day to day costs of doing business, as well as reducing the cost of data, transport and financial services.

The GEC theme was “Digital disruption”, prompting Ramaphosa to say that digital disruption was the cornerstone of a modern and diversified economy. “It enhances customers’ experiences. Businesses must embrace digital as an enabler.”

He added: “Our main focus is profitable and sustainable businesses… We must foster an African entrepreneur network and go forth with intra-Africa trade. We invite others to collaborate with us.”

Delegates tweeted their views:

Lessons from investors

In the session “Investing in emerging markets”, international investors gave advice about what they looked for when entrepreneurs approached them for funding:
“Talk in numbers.” – Yusuf Randera-Rees of Awethu Project in South Africa

“Nothing says more in traction than your resources you can execute with. Look at how you can execute and get traction.” – Igor Oliveira of Semente in Brazil.

“If you’re someone who says ‘I’m going to keep on going,’ that is a human aspect for me. If I feel the person is not in it for the right reasons, I won’t go for it [invest in it].” – Christopher Schroeder of Startup Rising in the United States.

“Investors buy into you, not the idea.” – Tomi Davies of the African Business Angel Network in Mauritius.

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