South Africa’s macroeconomic conditions are worse today than in 2007 when Accelerate Cape Town was launched. We are in a perilously low-growth environment and our economy remains exclusive and divided. National government policy must stimulate, not stifle, economic growth and the erosion of free enterprise must stop.’ These were the words from our CEO, Chris Whelan at our AGM on 15 August 2014 sponsored by Old Mutual, Nedbank and Tsogo Sun.
Our keynote speaker Herman Mashaba, entrepreneur and founder of Black Like Me and Lephastsi Investments made a strong call for business and influential people to challenge government policies that pose serious, negative consequences for economic growth in South Africa.
Herman said that he was happy he started his business under apartheid as current minimum wage requirements are impacting on entrepreneurs and small business, as well as the DTI’s draconian licensing legislation and regulations which were withdrawn, but which he feels will be back. He aslo felt that the Department of Labour was not working to help the 8.3 million unemployed get employed and that South Africa’s schooling system is a major contributor to economic under-performance. “It is not lack of money creating the problem, but rather management of schools and the quality of teaching”, said Mashaba.
Role of Corporate Business
In reviewing the role of corporate business in creating a high-growth, inclusive economy, Chris said: ‘Attracting a talented pool of entrepreneurs and developing symbiotic relationships between corporates and SMEs will unlock growth and prosperity. Whilst the National Development Plan (NDP) calls for 11 million new jobs by 2030, it is the private sector which needs to lead the growth, with government creating an enabling environment which is investor-friendly.’
Herman described the NDP as having sound elements, but does not believe it goes far enough to address SA’s economic problems. Calling for more fundamental solutions based on sound economic principles, he said: ‘A good start would be honest dialogue to seriously address the issues most important to bring about change and organisations such as Accelerate Cape Town have an important role to play in that shift.’
At the AGM we also focused on the ‘City Vital’ of talent, connectedness, innovation and distinctiveness – elements necessary to grow the Cape Town city region, and we also unveiled a new corporate identity to reflect upon our role beyond the CBD to the Cape Town city region, including Stellenbosch, Saldanha, Franschhoek and Hermanus, for example.