These days, starting a business – and keeping it afloat – is harder than ever. Nowhere is this truer than in South Africa, which was the subject of alarming figures in the recently released Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2021/2022 report. Read more below:

The report determined what its authors and other researchers have highlighted year after year: because of insufficient skills development platforms, burdensome regulations, and a lack of access to finance, South African entrepreneurs cannot keep their doors open.

There is, however, a lesson to be learned from Cape Town, which stands apart as a city that has laid a strong foundation for enterprise development. According to the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence African Tech Ecosystems of the Future 2021 index, Cape Town was ranked in second place for foreign direct investment strategy because of its ‘initiative in creating the necessary infrastructure for a thriving tech ecosystem’.

This initiative takes shape in the form of the exact type of business support platforms that the GEM report called for.

The City and The Business Hub has a series of some 30 skills development sessions for Capetonian companies and entrepreneurs that cover topics ranging from costing and pricing of products, to tendering, business improvement strategies, and market access. The Hub’s team also resolves queries at their Cape Town CBD office and during community activations.

We work with partners to facilitate programmes that make life easier for businesses. These are:

  • The Productivity Efficiency Programme facilitated by Productivity SA wherein small businesses receive an onsite assessment and then detailed guidance on how to improve operations
  • The Smart Supplier programme prepares businesses for engaging with buyers in the private sector
  • The Furniture Light Manufacturing technical skills workshop
  • The Business Mentorship Programme where young entrepreneurs are mentored over 10 months by experienced business owners
  • Business Development workshops facilitated by the SA Renewable Energy Business Incubator for aspirant Green Economy entrepreneurs

In the past three years, more than 3 000 start-ups and traders have gone through these programmes while the Helpdesk has resolved 6 440 queries.

As a local government, we are not blind to the regulatory web that businesses trying to operate in South Africa get tangled up in.

As such, we constantly engage industries via surveys and our ‘Doing Business Dashboard’ to identify red tape they may experience. We continuously learn from these engagements to come up with improved, pro-business ways of working inside the City.

These programmes are facilitated in tandem with others that develop ready workforces for high growth industries. More than 21 500 people all across Cape Town have been trained and placed in jobs through these platforms in the past three years.

With all these mechanisms, the City’s Investment Facilitation Branch, which is tasked with attracting and helping firms large and small to land and expand in Cape Town, can confidently reach out to investors. The unit has assisted companies in a wide range of industries, unlocking investments worth R20,5 billion since 2018 and creating thousands more job opportunities.

Similarly, Air Access, which receives funding from the City, can connect Cape Town to more key source markets, allowing for more global exports of homemade goods.

It is through initiatives such as these and the strong partnerships that the City government has forged with industry stakeholders that Cape Town, according to several rankings such as the fDi index, has emerged as one of Africa’s leading investment hubs.

My mission as Cape Town’s Economic Growth Mayoral Committee Member is to get us to the number one ranking on that index. It will take meaningful actions such as the ones outlined above to get us there and ultimately make life easier for businesses.

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