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July 29, 2015

Johannesburg Secures Global Entrepreneurship Congress

Johannesburg is set to host another international congress in March 2017 when global entrepreneurs and innovators attend the first Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) to be held on the African continent. The hosting rights for GEC 2017 were awarded at GEC 2015 in Milan.

The objectives of the Congress are to map out entrepreneurial ecosystems, share new developments in startup financing, connect entrepreneurs to the best resources and networks, and identify emerging entrepreneurial hotspots and global expansion of the producer movement.

The GEC, initiated by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and the Kauffman Foundation in 2009, is a gathering of global startup innovators. The Congress hosts thought-leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers who have become part of a global movement that advances entrepreneurship to build economies and improve human welfare.

“Hosting the GEC in 2017 will give South Africa the opportunity to showcase its entrepreneurial capacity to the world and show yet again why it is the leading host city of world congresses and business leaders,” Councillor Ruby Mathang, MMC Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, said in a statement.

Johannesburg has a major role in the African entrepreneurship network that has significant benefits for the rest of Africa. This Congress will put the city in a position to train young Africans in science, technology, research and innovation, Mathang explained.

Johannesburg is co-hosting the Congress with SEA Africa as the local member and host of the GEN. SEA Africa, a renowned specialist research and development company, was responsible for initiating, managing, leading and ultimately securing the bid.

The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, said that bringing the GEC to South Africa was a collective effort by her Department, the City of Johannesburg, Barclays Africa and SEA Africa. “GEC will help sustain the momentum of an entrepreneurial revolution which President Jacob Zuma set in motion last year when he announced the establishment of our separate department that would focus on small businesses and cooperatives,” Minister Zulu said.

Kizito Okechukwu, Executive Head of SEA Africa, agreed and said winning this bid is testament to the successful collaboration between the private and public sector. “Collaboration is vital. In this regard, we need to build sustainable ecosystems for entrepreneurial growth in Africa. 

“We will do this in partnership with various global and local partners and we also invite all stakeholders in the entrepreneurial space within Africa to engage, support and participate in this process. The Global Entrepreneurship Network continues to expand its involvement in Africa to support and assist the next generation of entrepreneurs here to rebrand the continent and permanently shift perceptions.”

According to Craig Bond, CEO of Retail and Business Banking at Barclays Africa, the Congress, which is expected to attract more than 5,000 delegates, is a strong opportunity for South Africa and Africa as a continent to showcase its entrepreneurial abilities to a global market. “The GEC is a platform that can open doors for our youth, ignite entrepreneurship and put our youth in the global arena. It contributes to the overall Pan-Africanism objective by strengthening common perspectives amongst nations, creating partnerships and collaborative efforts, and encouraging inter-regional trade.”

The GEC global team is currently visiting South Africa from July 27-29. Speaking in Johannesburg, Jonathan Ortmans, President of GEN, says the focus of the team’s visit is on the local committee’s strategic and operational plan as well as site visits to hotels and the Sandton Convention Centre. Their visit will include engaging with various stakeholders in the entrepreneurship space as well as visits to various entrepreneurship hubs and local attractions.
Highlights of the team’s tour include, among others, a meeting with the nominated GEN South Africa board members, site visits to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) Design Institute, the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, the City of Johannesburg’s SMME Project, the Absa Entrepreneurship Centre and the Gordon Institute of Business Science.

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