Following the recent State of the Nation address, Budget Speech, and with pending national elections in a lack-lustre global economy, we are heading for interesting times. Pravin Gordhan’s Budget was conservative in an election year, while President Zuma suggested a more ‘radical phase of socio-economic transformation policies and programmes that will meaningfully address poverty, unemployment and inequality’. The reality is that if we want to stimulate the South African economy, we need a far more robust engagement around what business and investors need to do to grow locally or into new territories.
This year is a pivotal one and now is the time for action. The Business voice needs to be heard and our actions seen more visibly in leading the discussion. It is far too important to leave to politicians alone. To that end, Accelerate Cape town is engaged in several initiatives, which I will be discussing with you over the coming weeks and months.
To highlight some key projects: first, we have a strengthened Enterprise Development focus – to build symbiotic relationships between corporate business and SME’s with the aim to accelerate their growth. 70% of Cape businesses fall into this segment and contribute 50% to GDP and they have the potential to drive the South African economy. We will work to develop the market and funding access with you.
Second, I will be the editor-in-chief of ‘Welcome to South African Excellence’, a first ever publication showcasing the modern, innovative and globally competitive side of South Africa. It will tell the ‘business innovation story’ of both large corporates to small rising stars, and will be managed by the creative services agency WTF Helsinki, the organisation that created a similar publication for Helsinki WDC 2012. Read more about this project and share your innovation stories with us!
Our networking and thought leadership programme is a continued focus. In February, we hosted approximately 60 business leaders at ARUP, where Alayne Reesburg, CEO of World Design Capital (WDC) 2014, joined Lean Doody, Arup’s Global Leader for Smart Cities (via link-up from London), and the WDC 2012 team from Helsinki to discuss design, smart cities and opportunities for long-term growth. For an overview of the event and key reports, click here. In March, the UK High Commissioner, Judith Macgregor, and Baroness Scotland, David Cameron’s trade envoy to South Africa, joins us in a ‘Chatham House Rules’ meeting at Webber Wentzel to discuss trade and business issues. The UK continues to be one of South Africa’s key trading partners, buying 36% (€7.5bn) of the products/services that we export to the EU, while we import 16% (€4.1bn) from them.
We look forward to seeing you at our forthcoming networking events.