It has been an incredibly interesting first quarter and I trust this finds you well and in good spirits!
Statistics emerging from Davos earlier this year painted a bleak picture of rapidly increasing inequality, and triggered interesting debate between redistribution and pro-growth perspectives. Ideology aside, with 20% of South African households (16.2m people) surviving on less than R350 per person monthly, current levels of inequality are simply not sustainable. Populist rhetoric around “radical economic transformation” is however concerning as we have seen very little indication as to what that means and how it will be achieved. In particular, Minister Gordhan’s budget provided minimal clues as to how this transformation would be implemented, as the additional taxes levied on a tiny percentage of top-earners pales in comparison to the excessive leakage from fruitless and wasteful expenditure. We explore this further in our article on the budget.
The growth that SA needs is most likely to come from SMEs, and whilst state procurement is one obvious area that could have a significant impact, so is corporate procurement through Enterprise and Supplier Development programmes. We were honoured, earlier this year, to host Founder and CEO of Discovery Group, Adrian Gore, at a CEO Engagement around Unlocking SME Growth. Adrian, together with the CEO of Bidvest Group, Brian Joffe, has been tasked by Minister Gordhan to coordinate efforts to set up the SA SME Fund to encourage entrepreneurship in SA.
This quarter, we also launched two new pilots to support our programmes. This includes our mentorship pilot which is an outcome of our Business and University Innovation programme. Western Cape Universities are some of the most innovative in South Africa, resulting in several spin-out companies. We are working with selected incubators and accelerators and our business professionals are supporting start-ups through mentorship.
Secondly, we launched a carpooling pilot following on from various events in our Transport Programme. As we can’t build our way out of congestion in the CBD, we are working with our members in the V&A and CBD to collectively sign up to the UGoMyWay app. With nearly 80% of cars entering Cape Town’s CBD being single occupancy vehicles, let’s see what we can collectively do to reduce the number of vehicles on our roads.
Our Thought Leaders series started the year with an event on how workplaces are evolving based on advances in technology and multi-generational workforces. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials and 45% of employees will have two or more mobile devices, read more about Managing Mobile Millennial Workplaces. Also, as part of our Digital and Tech programme, we have hosted a valuable workshop with the three tiers of government on open data and what government data would be valuable to business.
With political rhetoric expected to escalate over the coming months, it is important to remember that SA still has enormous untapped potential. Efforts to stimulate entrepreneurial activity, the amazing innovation coming out of our universities, and collaborative efforts to share data and address issues such as traffic congestion, continue to unlock this potential.