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  • Chart – Women and men as employers and employees in South Africa

    zapreneur chart on male and female employment

    Male and female employment in South Africa using 2011 2nd Quarter Labour Force Survey data.

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  • Youth unemployment – a ticking time bomb, or is it already here?

    Arguing that the the “ticking time bomb” metaphor may lull us into a sense of complacency with regards to youth unemployment.

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  • The Little Guy and the National Planning Commission

    Cover of the diagnostic report by the NPC. Will the “little guy” find the links?

    A problem well-defined is a problem half solved. The expectations from the diagnostic report of the National Planning Commission (NPC) are that it would  define the problems facing our society in a way that stimulates discussion, and through a process unites us in defining the problem and the plan to resolve them. In that spirit,I am arguing that the section on enterprise development in the Diagnostic Report will require a recognition of realities of uneven market power in South Africa as a foundation to define the problem and develop solutions. At the core is that the NPC must take a stance to back the “little guy” in the economy, and all people excluded from the economy. It should do this initially through defining the problem, however it has not yet embedded in the way the NPC approaches the definition of the problems we face.

    The NPC provides a useful way of describing the surface manifestations of low levels of entrepreneurial activity in South Africa. It notes in this regard that:

    • Small business contributes 40% of GDP and employs 60% of workers in South Africa
    • Notes that only 2% of adult population are involved in start-up activity
    • Highlights that South Africa has relatively low levels of entrepreneurial activity

    It then summarises the policy response as follows:

    Factors that hinder the development of  Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) include inappropriate regulation, lack of access to finance and external factors such as crime. Furthermore, because they have supply chains across the country, large firms are able to sell their products at prices smaller companies cannot match. A strategy to promote SMMEs cannot take hold without addressing the challenge of accessing established supply chains.

     

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  • Treasury launches Jobs Fund

     

    The Jobs Fund - National Treasury funds, DBSA implements

    Minister Pravin Gordhan has launched the Jobs Fund, first mooted in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address. The fund  targets 150 000 jobs I three years and  has three unique characteristics:

     

    1. Co-finance projects with the potential of job creation, supporting both existing and new programmes.  The fund thus seeks to gear additional funding into the programme
    2. Grants instead of loans – Importantly, the funds provide grants for projects, signalling a shift in government to directly fund projects through grants and supporting venture capital. There will be no repayment or financial return sought, although funds that  are  not spent for the  purpose for which they were allocated,  or  are misappropriated, will be reclaimed by  the  National Treasury.
    3. Supporting existing and new programmes – The fund is designed to provide for a range of different partnerships, including for existing government programmes and new programmes.

    Details on the application forms and criteria can be found at http://www.jobsfund.org.za/

    The fund has a wide ambit, covering four areas:

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  • A voice for small business – Interview with Carl J Lotter

     

    [boxleft]

    Carl J Lotter : Profile

    Carl is a senior associate at the Africa Strategy Group.

    Carl specializes in international trade and investments, corporate governance and government relations; providing strategic advisory to both business and governments.

    A former diplomat – Carl served as South Africa’s trade & development representative to Australia and the USA – he has extensive international experience in the financial services, energy and water utilities, minerals and other strategic economic development sectors. In recognition of his leadership in developmental economics, Carl was awarded the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship by the USA government; enabling studies at the Boston University School of Management, focusing on finance and investments in developing countries.

    Carl is the recipient of the Harvard South African Fellowship and attended Harvard University as a Senior Fellow attached to Elliott House. He also attended Harvard Business School’s Senior Executives Development program. On completion of the program, he undertook an internship at Barclays Bank International Division in New York, USA.

    Carl is passionate on issues related to economic development – focusing on developing processes and practices, to promote corporate governance and international best practices in business and government. [/boxleft]

    The potential for social media to support activism is hotly debated. Carl J Lotter, is pioneering an approach on social media platforms to provide a “voice” to small business in South Africa. I have joined the groups on Facebook and Linkedin and have found the discussions informative, and having huge potential. We asked a couple of questions to Carl, about the initiative.

    How many members have signed up for the “Voice of Small Business in South Africa” across social networks?

    My total contacts in Linkedin & Facebook are 3500. Total for Voice for small business 832

    carl lotter profile pic on zapreneur

    Carl J Lotter --- Amplifying the small business voice

    Congrats on the large number of people signing up on the networks. Why do you think such a large number of people have signed up?

     

    Many share my concern that given all that we know about business from studies undertaken and experience at the cold face, government has been unable to deliver support as the voices among small business is a cacophony of many voices and government does not know how to respond.

    Why have you started this initiative?

    My formation has been in banking and I have seen and continue to see only lip service paid to this vital aspect of economic development even in face of all the research done around the world. One common outcome of this research has been that jobs and wealth can only be created through small business. Government holds the key and ZA government has acknowledged this in policies at the Department of Trade and Industry and in the New Growth Path. I started this initiative to bring this sector and government together just like what happened around the World Cup. It is the only way for success for SMME and for government policy to benefit the economy.

    Do current structures in organised business, not already provide a voice for small business?

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  • Is Cape Town or Johannesburg the best metropolitan government in South Africa?

    Political parties have been arguing that the city they govern is the best run in South Africa. A cold hard look at available data shows that there is not much difference between Johannesburg and Cape Town, who occupy the first or second spot in most indices. There is thus no definitive answer to the question, as to which metropolitan municipal government is the best, however voters should be circumspect in assessing the claims of political parties. The argument that Cape Town is exceptional however does not have a solid backing from the data reviewed.

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  • Western Cape local councils perform most productively — ANC 6, DA 4

    Reviewing data on Top Ten most productive local councils in South Africa. Shows that simple descriptions of performance by political parties spins the data. Voters need to be reflective in evaluating the messages from political parties.

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