Entrepreneurship is key to providing alternative sources of employment as the workplace changes

By Nedgroup Investments

Fostering a can-do attitude and creating better growth structures and support for entrepreneurs is crucial to the success of entrepreneurial innovation in South Africa.

This emerged at the recent Heavy Chef event, in partnership with Nedgroup Investments that was hosted in Johannesburg last week. The speakers were renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneur and tech expert, Niket Desai and local star, entrepreneur and widely-respected commentator on the 4th Industrial Revolution, Valter Adão.

The two speakers, both from different backgrounds, provided unique perspective on the barriers to entrepreneurship in South Africa and, more importantly, ideas on how to overcome them.

“It’s so important to look at the world, look at international success stories and have a view that ‘I can do that too’,” says Desai. He also stressed that when it comes to building a sustainable company, it’s crucial to focus first on building teams.

“Start-ups are hard. You have to go into it knowing it’s going to be tough – but that if you have the right people working together, you have a strong core that can withstand the pressure. Companies are ultimately just a bunch of human beings – the thing that persists is your people. Many people don’t think about that when they start out,” he says.

Want to hear more about Desai’s views on creating winning teams? Watch the video clip here.

Meanwhile, Adão, who is Head of Digital at Deloitte and member of Singularity, provided the audience with a view on what the future workplace is likely to look like.  “There is no doubt that the workplace is changing. How do we prepare the upcoming generation of innovators for a world where machinery and AI is likely to play a larger and larger role in traditional workplaces?”

He acknowledges this is an emotional discussion, particularly in South Africa where job security is already so tenuous – but he says it also highlights the need for entrepreneurial innovation. “We are knowledge rich and time poor – and that is shaping the way that we make decisions, consume products and experience work. People are choosing flexibility over corporate structure, and those with a combination of the newer skills like AI and tech and the older skills like banking or engineering will be the ones to flourish,” he predicts.

Adão also urged the audience to acknowledge the dire need for inclusive support for entrepreneurial development in South Africa. “Without inclusive growth, the transition to the new way of work will be a painful one for South Africa.  We must work together with government and the private sector to create the structures where entrepreneurs can flourish – and ultimately provide alternative sources of employment.”
Donna Barnes, Head of Direct at Nedgroup Investments said exposing a South African audience to the views and insights of entrepreneurs from around the world helps to break down the perceived barriers experienced by many aspiring local entrepreneurs.

“We are passionate about encouraging the developments and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa. We believe the sector is an important source of potential growth for South Africa and we hope that through partnerships like this, we can have the tough conversations and contribute to providing the much-needed support structures for sustainable, local entrepreneurship,” she says.

But for Barnes it goes beyond supporting entrepreneurship. “As an investment company, it’s our duty to make sure that we are providing clients with opportunities to get the bigger picture and perspective in terms of the markets they are investing in and how developing trends may shape their future. Events like this one are just one way in which we try to achieve that,” she says.