GIST Startup Boot Camp for African Tech Entrepreneurs Johannesburg | 12-15 April 2016

Editors Note: This is closing on the 29 Feb 2016. I just received word of it and so posted it.
 
GIST Startup Boot Camp is coming to Johannesburg!
Do you have an innovation that you are ready to take to the next level? Do you need help finding the best customers for your product? Do you need mentorship and instruction from experts? Would you like to meet other smart, young entrepreneurs like you?
Apply for the GIST Startup Boot Camp! Applications close on February 29th, so don’t delay! Click “View Event Page” to apply!
For more information about the boot camp, please see the sample agenda here: http://bit.ly/SAsampagenda
GIST Startup Boot Camp South Africa is open to young entrepreneurs (18-40) in South Africa, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Non-local participants from the above countries will have travel and participation expenses covered.
 
For more information vist this page. Get applying quickly.

Budget 2016: Encouraging for SMMEs, but more detail needed

The South African government is well aware that the small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) sector is the key to unlocking job creation and economic growth over the next decade and a half. The National Development Plan envisions 90% of new employment by 2030 will be generated by SMMEs.
Yet SMMEs often seem to be forgotten by policymakers as they try to juggle the demands of stakeholders such as big business and labour. In that context, it was refreshing to hear Finance Minister Gordhan use the 2016 Budget Speech to mention some small business-friendly steps the government plans to take in the next year or so.
Continue reading “Budget 2016: Encouraging for SMMEs, but more detail needed”

#Hack.Jozi – Got an idea, transform Jozi! (The 5 million rand in prizes is just a bonus)

With prizes valued at R5m worth of support including R1m for the winner and R350 000 for two runners up and a boot camp for the top 100 ideas, you might just want to share your great digital ideas that can transform your community. The City of Johannesburg (The Department of Economic Development) and Wits University through the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) have partnered to make the second #Hack.Jozi Challenge possible.
 
The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a boot camp for startup entrepreneurs and aims to contribute towards fostering skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital technology space.
 
Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director for Economic Development for the city, who is overseeing the competition explains, “We aim to accelerate visionary entrepreneurs in the ICT sector. This is important because ICT is central to improved productivity, economic growth and job creation. We are a young City with a young population and we have excellent business and research capacity which can create the perfect environment for us to develop advanced ICT products and services.”
 
No issue is too big or small. Issues that can be addressed include everything from access to healthcare to affordable education. Entries should address challenges in the following categories:

  • General
  • Public spaces/tourism
  • Smart infrastructure
  • Economic development

 
“If you have an idea about how you can use technology to help your community and grow the economy, we want to hear from you,” says Naidoo.
 
Applicants can be individuals or teams, one of whom must live in the Johannesburg area. Government employees are not eligible.
 
The deadline for submissions is Friday, 25 March 2016, which will be followed by a strict pre-screening to be conducted by a technical team. A committee will select the winners.
 
The City of Johannesburg has committed R5 million in support to fund the competition and accelerate early stage ICT startups. The winners will be selected after two elimination rounds.  The City will not take any equity in any of the businesses.
 
The top 100 contestants will be offered after-hours entrepreneurship and business training that will help them to refine the ideas. These contestants will be hosted and mentored in Jozi’s digital innovation hub in the heart of Braamfontein, where they will have access to various resources, mentors, advisors as well as partners to make their vision of helping their community a reality.
 
The top 20 will be offered additional business mentorship and all who make the top 10 will win a one year membership of the ICT Hub in Braamfontein. The hub is an initiative hosted by Wits University under the leadership of Professor Barry Dwolatzky.
 
The ideas that won in 2015
 
R1 million: Desmond Mongwe MoWallet
Enables brands to connect with customers and improving distribution of vouchers in a FMCG environment.
 
R 350 000: Niel Pieters Lazy Lizzard
Innovative educational software that is relevant to the junior school curriculum. Accessible on online and offline platforms and allows parents to track their child’s progress.
 
R 350 000: Percy Lawrence Move this stuff
A logistics application which provides cost effective removal and transport options.
 
#Hack.Jozi
http://hackjozichallenge.co.za/
Twitter: @HackJozi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HackJozi

South African Small and Medium Enterprises 2nd Annual Convention 17 March 2016

Editor’s Note: SASMEF is an important initiative.  I have agreed to post this announcement, because it amplifies the voice of small business. You can read an interview with Carl J Lotter – one of SASMEF funders – here. It is wondeful to see this initiative grow from strenght to strenght. 
 
It is with honor and on behalf of Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town and Patron of the South African Small and Medium Enterprises Federation (SASMEF) that and I invite you to become a member of SASMEF and attend in the 2nd Annual convention and to participate in directing SASMEF. It will be held at the DBSA 17 March 2016.
Three red flags stand out in the South Africa SMME sector:

  1. The NDP records that the SMME environment is fragmented and The government and big business response is inhibited by the fragmentation
  2. Lack of access to markets and money which leads to the exceptional high failure rate among SMME’s
  3. The inability of government to respond to the SMME sector due to the lack of capacity to deliver on the intent of the Department of Small Business Development

SASMEF acts to resolve these dilemmas. For this reason SASMEF was formed in 2011 and has become   the national private social enterprise that develops a vibrant environment where IMSME’s are able to significantly contribute to a healthy economy
SASMEF’s presentations have been validated by Senior Economist in the Presidency, Chairperson Ms. Fubbs; The Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Trade & Industry; the National Small Business Advisory Council (per SME act 204); Economic and Management Business Faculties of several universities.
The opening speaker will be Mr. Saki Macomoza, Chairperson of Business Leadership South Africa and the Key note address will be by the Director General of Department of Small Business Development, Prof Vries (below) and will include a panel discussion on SMME led by a senior reporter from the Business Report. Furthermore, the UNDP will present best practice with regards to SCM and procurement from Mexico and the European Investment Bank will present their findings on microlensing in South Africa.

The program concludes with the election of the board of directors, office bearers and the Advisory committee.
The invite is extended to 150 senior SMME stakeholders, ED practitioners, bankers and thought leaders who are able to shape the “micro and macro” economic environment in South Africa using the SASMEF platforms.
The participation fee is R1250, which will avail of the following befits:

  1. Membership of SASMEF
  2. Membership of the movement #IMSME
  3. Eligibility to be nominated as board member
  4. Eligibility to be nominated as member of the SASMEF advisory council
  5. SASMEF board of directors: Eligible to vote for a delegate to the SASMEF board of directors.
  6. SASMEF Advisory Council: Eligible to vote a delegate to the SASMEF advisory council.
  7. Access to members log​i​n page on website
  8. Participation and networking with other SME’S and new economy programs
  9. Discounted services from participating service providers​​​
  10. Subscription to the SASMEF Annual IMSME Health Monitor

In line with SASMEF’s commitment to Triple Bottom Line business frame work, a portion of the participation fee will be donated to the Patrons Development Trust, in empathy with the economic difficulties experienced by many, – details to be announced at the convention.
Kindly accept this invitation by registering on www.sasmef.org.za.

Part-time business skills workshop facilitator

Fetola are seeking part-time senior business skills workshop facilitators in a range of subjects to provide quality training to Small businesses (SME’s) nationally. As small-business acceleration specialists with a head office in Cape Town and a national programme of enterprise development and supplier development Fetola works with mostly Black-owned, rural, women and youth-owned businesses (from start-up to R20m turnover).  This role is a part-time contract over a number of different sites. Workshop facilitators must be skilful and proven in their field, but training in the Fetola methodology will be provided.
More details can be found on the Fetola website

Request for research proposals: South African Firm-level and tax analysis using micro data

The National Treasury (NT) of the Republic of South Africa and UNU-WIDER, in collaboration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), invite proposals from qualified researchers which exploit tax administrative data based on company and individual records for purposes of conducting rigorous economic firm-level analysis.
This is an important project that could provide important insights into South African businesses, small and large.
 
For further details on this opportunity. Please click here.

Background

An important element of economic growth and transformation relates to the characteristics, determinants and behaviours of firms. Firms are the economic agents that interact at the micro level but ultimately shape aggregate economic trajectories. Firm level data has high potential for enhancing understanding of these interactions as the heterogeneous characteristics of firms are not masked.

Offer and expectations

The specific objectives of this request for research proposals are:

  1. To obtain policy-relevant research findings on the determinants of productivity, investment, employment, exports, profitability and output by different firms with different characteristics (incl. size, sector, ownership, export intensity, degree of competition faced, age, past behaviour, and skills makeup). Also, where possible, to examine dynamic decision making effects on outcomes.
  2. To obtain research findings relevant to government policy questions on the impact of tax incentives (e.g. research & development, MIDP, learnership, section 12I manufacturing) and non-tax incentives on investment, value-add, job creation, capital/labour intensity and growth.
  3. To obtain economic analyses that could improve policymakers’ insights on issues pertinent to base erosion and profit shifting, including but not limited to corporate leverage and structuring, interest expense in relation to earnings, and linkages between R&D expense and the creation of intangibles.
  4. To analyse depreciation allowances claimed by companies by asset class and/or sector, and how this relates to economic depreciation of assets.
  5. To obtain economic analysis that improves the understanding of tax behaviour of individuals and firms.

Researchers with successful proposals will gain access to generally inaccessible data sets located at the National Treasury, subject to agreed restrictions to preserve confidentiality. It is important to highlight that, as of this call, the data are only made available to researchers while physically on National Treasury premises in Pretoria. An inventory of potential data sets is appended to this RFRP.

Proposal submission

Submission of proposals is done electronically using appropriate form on the left column of this page. There are three forms to select from; one for individuals, another for groups of individuals and a third one for NGOs. The deadline for submitting proposals is 29 February 2016 23:59 EET. See full request for research proposals for detailed proposal submission details.
Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to researchproposal9@wider.unu.edu by 22 February 2016. All queries and responses will be published on this announcement page after this date.

 
 
 

How Important Is It Really To Produce Content For Your Website?

 Just how important is it to produce fresh content for your website on a regular basis? It’s not just important, ladies and gents, it’s essential. Getting the perfect website designed by a web design company doesn’t mean much without perfectly written content. You have probably heard this a million times before, but we’re going to say it again: content is king! If you’re wondering why your website isn’t working for you, it’s probably because you’re not working for it. Simply having a website isn’t enough anymore. Having a website requires constant input. You will need to create informative, helpful and keyword-rich content to ensure that your website remains relevant and search engine friendly. You can have the flashiest website with all the bells and whistles and still have to deal with the frustration of your competitors ranking ahead of you in an online search result, if you have stale content. Ranking number one in an online search result with leading search engines such as Google, is the coveted prize for all online marketers.
Below are a few reasons why you should regularly update your website with fresh content:

  • A website that is frequently updated with articles, blog posts, video clips and similar, will be frequently indexed, which immediately improves your chances of ranking higher in a search engine result. Of course your content should be relevant, interesting and helpful to the reader.
  • More keyword rich content means you strike it rich with leading search engine’s algorithm charts. Of course keywords aren’t all that a search engine is looking for anymore. If you simply have pages and pages of keywords, your website is going to be viewed negatively and will most certainly lose its potential for a good ranking.
  • You can position yourself as an industry authority by posting helpful articles and guides on your products / services. “How to” articles are great for this, as are guides on how to use your products more efficiently and effectively. Providing your consumers with good quality content will also earn loyalty from your target audience.

What exactly makes content great? How do you know if your articles and posts are going to work for your website and get your business marketing to where it needs to be?
Below are a few tips on how to create great content:

  • Always be original. Never reproduce someone else’s content or copy and paste something else that you find online.
  • Your content headlines should grab attention and your content should keep it. Create strong headlines and use your keywords / key phrase in them.
  • Spur on action. What’s the point of a good article or blog post if the consumer doesn’t know what the next step is? Always include a call to action and make sure that it is clear / obvious. Instruct the consumer to email you, click through to your Facebook page or download a new article.
  • Get visual. Images are interesting. As humans, we are attracted to what looks good and that’s why images help to sell products so well online. If you are worried that you can’t take great pictures, don’t be. There are plenty of free online image resources that you can use.
  • Skip the waffling. No one wants to read pages and pages of content that end up being a yawn a minute. Keep the content interesting and concise.
  • Be thorough in your content and link all of your online platforms. What’s the point in having a website with great content that points your consumers to your Facebook page, LinkedIn page or Twitter page, and none of these pages have more content. Ensure that all of your profiles are properly filled out and that where the opportunity exists, updates and posts filled with fresh and interesting content are made regularly.
  • Make sure that your content is well written and presented neatly. Break up content into sections or paragraphs with powerful headings to ensure that you don’t lose your readers along the way. ghsggsgs

Is your website ranking on the first page of Google? If not, what are you waiting for! The time to start creating fresh and interesting content is now!
Article by Gert Hattingh from web design company, One Click Here.

Featured image courtesy of  Guudmorning!

Free Training for Entrepreneurs – ZANA

Imagine having free access to training by Steve Blank, Neil Patel, Hiten Shah, Kim Malone Scott, and Matt Mullenweg? Zana is a free startup university for entrepreneurs. Recently, it has been acquired by Startsup.co. Startups.co boasts over 1 million startups on their platform, and Zana offers 600 quality, in depth interviews.
Here are some highlights in the course offerings:
 

  • Growth from User Zero:  Morgan Brown, growth expert and head of growth for GrowthHackers.com shares insider tricks on how to get the early traction you need.
  • Content marketingNeil Patel teaches you in ten lessons about content marketing, covering SEO, content writing and branding.
  • Building a unicorn: Matt Mullenwag, founder of Automattic and WordPress, tells a story of two, and it is definately worth reading.

The vision behind ZANA, is captured by Wil Schroter, Founder at Startups.co

Being a startup is no longer about being a venture-backed tech company; it’s about growth. Nowadays everyone leverages tech, whether it’s a yoga studio selling class passes online or a restaurant doing its customer acquisition through social channels.
The future of startup culture isn’t about a limited number of “tech unicorn” companies in a single industry—it’s about a global population of aspiring entrepreneurs in every industry, leveraging technology to change the face of growth and success.
We think of this generation as the “New Entrepreneur”—someone who is tech-savvy, growth-focused and spans all industries from tech to retail to consumer products. 2015 has been a banner year for this generation and the companies that support them like Shopify and Square who have both had multi-billion dollar IPOs this year.

It is a vision that intrigues us at ZApreneur, and one that hopefully supports your business. ZANA can help you with the 10 step programmes in many areas of your business.
A word of warning, this training stuff can be a little addictive. So remember, that consistent action everyday in your business is the best learning that you can get about your business. The experts at ZANA can help you along the way.

Do startups make inequality inevitable?

SAY “PG” in South Africa, and everyone knows you are talking about Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. In the tech start-up world the initials belong to Paul Graham, a venture capitalist and influential essayist. Recently, he controversially argued that economic inequality is a necessary consequence of start-up success. “You can’t prevent great variations in wealth without preventing people from getting rich, and you can’t do that without preventing them from starting start- ups, ” he wrote. Although written in the context of a debate on changes to the tax system in the US, Graham’s words must give us cause to pause. South Africa’s National Development Plan argues that “mass entrepreneurship” will contribute to higher employment, lower poverty and increased social mobility. It also argues for a more equal society, and focuses on equalising opportunities. But are we attempting to reconcile two irreconcilable goals —growing entrepreneurship and lowering inequality?

Inequality is good and bad?

He argues that inequality has good and bad elements, and governments and society should amplify the good and reduce the bad. He s ays arguments against rising inequality are simplified and conflate everything into a single argument. This perspective has many adherents in the American tech start-up space but is embraced by a minority here. For example, Uber employs no one, and drivers have no stake in the company. Some see this as the internet enabling progress. But work is redefined and precarious employment increases. The debate piqued my interest because tax reforms for small businesses in South Africa are imminent, and we often mimic inappropriate developed-country solutions.
Vast inequality is not inevitable, nor a requirement for progress. In responding to Graham, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman shows that the top 1% in the US are not entrepreneurs but corporate executives. Thomas Piketty also makes this point consistently —the top 1% earn from inherited wealth, which requires little investment and contributes little to job creation and wider social outcomes. In South Africa, high levels of inequality go with low private sector investment.
Our financial institutions have been criticised for underinvesting in the economy despite the availability of money, and BEE deals for not creating new invest ment. According to Stats SA , large companies receive the bulk of government subsidies and grants. The recent World Bank Sector Study of Effective Tax Burden  [PDF] in South Africa shows that large corporations generally pay less than the 28% r at e for companies due to a complex system of government subsidies and tax planning. It raises the question of whether government subsidisation of large business can be restructured to support higher levels of employment.

What should Pravin Gordhan do?

So what should our own PG do? The Davis Tax Committee recommendations on small business taxation should be speedily implemented. For start-ups, more ambitious approaches are needed. The popular option is to provide start-ups and all small business with three tax-free years. The rationale is easy to follow —establishing new businesses would be encouraged, and once successful, the businesses would start paying tax and provide jobs. One needs to understand why there is such a low take-up of tax concessions for venture capital activities. In South Africa this differentiation between small and big business is important, as their interests often conflict. We can learn from the US debate on how tax impacts start-ups that inequality matters and that government policy matters in how markets functions. The wider question remains in South Africa: can we create mass entrepreneurship as envisaged in the NDP without tackling the underlying inequality of opportunities? Our PG can make a good start by prioritising tax reforms for small businesses.
Hassen is the editor of  Zapreneur.com a student at the Wits School of Governance
This article first appeared in the Business Times (Sunday Times) on 14 February 2016.