The first half of 2017 has been somewhat challenging and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the negative news stories confronting us on a daily basis. It may therefore come as a surprise to many people to learn that credible institutions such as the World Bank and World Economic Forum (WEF) continue to rate South Africa very highly with respect to our judiciary, business environment, tertiary education system, and financial sector. Despite the current political disorder and growing pains of our young democracy, South Africa remains a key regional economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, and continues to hold enormous potential to drive the growth and development of the Southern Africa region.

June is Youth Month in SA and this is particularly relevant as we have a youth-dominated demographic with approximately 67% of our population below 35 years of age. This should be seen as a substantial national asset, as these young people hold the potential to significantly grow our economy as they enter the workforce. There are, however, numerous challenges with respect to activating our youth as productive members of society. Accelerate Cape Town (ACT) recently unpacked this challenge as part of our Business Leadership programme when we highlighted the final workstream of the CEO Initiative: Tackling Youth Unemployment. I also share some thoughts in this month’s newsletter article around the plight of our youth.

In keeping with the theme of Youth Month, we recently hosted a thought-provoking engagement with Sizwe Nxasana, Chairman of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and the four Vice-Chancellors of our regional universities to look at the funding crisis at universities. In case you missed the event, read more here.

With the recent sovereign ratings downgrade, and the prospect of further downgrades and recession looming, government and the corporate sector are under increasing pressure to become more efficient and cut costs. This does not bode well for the much-needed jobs growth and economic development SA so desperately needs. Increasingly, the primary opportunity to achieve such is vested with the SME sector and greater levels of entrepreneurial activity. Deloitte Western Cape are passionate about growing our current and future entrepreneurs, and ACT recently supported the Deloitte Funding Fair – a highly impressive initiative geared toward helping entrepreneurs access the finance required for their growth and sustainability.

With the City of Cape Town undergoing a significant organisational restructuring, and the region experiencing a devastating drought, we amplified our level of engagement with the city over the past couple of months. We highlighted the plans and innovation that the City of Cape Town is considering to address the water crisis, at our event around Water Security on 23 June 2017 at BAT’s fantastic new headquarters in the V&A Waterfront.

There certainly is much work to be done in South Africa in order to build the country so many of us aspire to. Please take a moment to check out some of the other great articles in our newsletter this month, as we explore some of the fantastic work being done by ACSA to realign the runway at Cape Town International Airport, showcase promising new developments in the clothing and textile sector, and speak to the new Managing Partner at KPMG, Lance September, in our quarterly Leadership Spotlight.