Learning at the Tshimologong Bootcamp

Last weekend I attended the the Tshimologong Bootcamp. The bootcamp aimed to get us entrepreneurs to take the next steps in our business, starting with a solid foundation on linking value proposition to customers. There is so much to process, but here are some lessons:

South African’s have some seriously good ideas

I have long argued that the problem with entrepreneurship in South Africa is a “supply issue”, in the sense that we do not have enough people starting up. Over the weekend I met lots of really impressive entrepreneurs with impressive ideas, and many already had customers. But, many were in that awkward stage were they (and me) are a little tentative.


I found a couple of developments in the broader startup ecosystem really interesting. These include:

  • GroundFlr –  Ground Flr is a game changer in the startup space. We improve the chance of startup funding by broadening the search for capital. Its now free to search for funding anywhere in the world. Our freemium service also gives startups the option of requesting a warm intro to an investor of their choice.
  • Venture Network – They hosts pitch nights and themed startup talks. Membership to our community is FREE. 
  • Lots of venture capitalist. Over the two days, there were many venture capitalists in attendance as mentors and advisers. I found this incredibly interesting.

In short, an ecosystem is developing that might make it easier for entrepreneurs to startup and eventually scaleup.


I decided to sit while the rest of the group collectively read out an entrepreneurial manifesto. I was not being difficult, but I honestly could not bring myself to participate. The nice bit was that no one was really phased by it. Live continued. Imagine doing that in a political party or a trade union – I can tell you the consequences are harsher.

Doing Stuff

I sate myself a goal for the end of the weekend to test if companies were interested in running promotions on ZApreneur. Over the weekend I emailed 15 people, got two coupon codes (exclusive to ZApreneur) and a commitment from three more companies. If you interested, just send me an email using this form.

Complex Business Models Need Visuals

Some of the business models were incredibly complex. The facilitator used the Business Model Canvas and things got a lot clearer, a lot more quickly. I had tried this process before, and I found the exercises extremely interesting.

Rules (are meant to be broken)

One of the mentors (Anthony Nathan from Tmara) gave us a talk on rules and how important it is to break them. I am not certain if I followed all of it, but what I learned was this:

  • Innovation removes a limitation
  • Market must adopt a new rules

Which I summarised as: Create value if it solves something, but only matters if people use it. If people value it, it might be disruptive. But, to make people adopt the new rules, you need to provide a minimal value guarantee. That is a however a very inadequate summary of the ideas.  You can check out the full idea here on YouTube.


Tiny Little Ideas

At the end of the two days, we had a presentation by Ken Beck.Let me admit this I had no clue who this guy was, and why he was given celebrity treatment. But, the talk was incredibly useful and inspiring. It validated what I have been learning- test ideas and see what happens.  The central message was that you needed to test (he said) kill your ideas in the shortage time possible. After the input I had a greater appreciation for this dude, called Ken Beck. Here is a link to his previous presentation at Tshimologong. It is long but very worthwhile presentation.


Next Steps…

The most important learning for me was to reinforce the idea is that as long as you learning you are making progress. The trick is to do that learning systematically and quickly (and without going broke!). If you can do that you and your business might actually have a value proposition that solve a real problem. That is a fancy way to say, it is time to test the next aspect of the business. For me that means making some decisions on ZApreneur, based not on theory but on learning from what my customers tell me.
(Huge thanks to the Tshimologing team).

SAICA offering discounted back office services

SAICA and J.P. Morgan sets out to help 100 SMEs reach new heights. Through the Enterprisation J.P. Morgan flagship project, 100 Gauteng SMEs will be selected to receive partially subsidised back office accounting support and financial training for a period of 18 months. The aim is to help them become sustainable businesses, and also to drive economic growth.

he key objective of the J.P. Morgan Enterprisation flagship project is to help SMEs reach the level of sustainability that allows them to drive economic growth and create employment. For this reason, SMEs accepted into this project will be measured against four key goals: compliance, revenue growth, profitability and employability.
To apply to be a part of the project, SMEs must:

  • be owned by a SA citizen
  • be successfully operating for a minimum of three years
  • have an annual turnover of between R500 000 and R10 million
  • be at least 51% black owned
  • operate only in South Africa
  • have valid tax clearance
  • have a valid BEE certificate/affidavit
  • be registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and have valid CIPC documentation
  • have an active business bank account
  • employ a minimum of two people (excluding directors and owners)
  • not have an accountant at present
  • not currently be a client of SAICA’s enterprise development entities
  • be willing to attend SAICA-hosted training and workshops.

SMEs that operate in the top-performing industries in South Africa – namely ICT, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture, transport & logistics, manufacturing, media and entertainment, and education – will be given preference for entry onto the project’s shortlist.
How to apply?
Business owners who would like their SMEs to be considered for the J.P. Morgan Enterprisation flagship project should note that the application consists of two steps: an initial online application and, should your SME be shortlisted, a 15-minute pitch presentation to a panel of judges who will select the 100 SMEs that will take part in the project.
To submit your application, visit www.saica.co.za, click on the Enterprisation J.P. Morgan project banner, and fill in the online application form.
Please note that online applications close at midnight on 15 January 2017. SMEs shortlisted for the project will be contacted by 18 January 2017 to set up a presentation to the panel during February.

Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week

Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week, IDC Auditorium, Johannesburg

11 November 2016

Photo of: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu,
Premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhura,
President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Mr Jonathan Ortmans,
Leaders of business, labour and community,
Development partners,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to address you this afternoon on the occasion of the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week. This event is informed by an understanding that sustainable development is people-driven.
It is informed by an understanding that countries that do not invest in entrepreneurial development hinder their own growth potential and limit the prosperity of their people. It is informed by an understanding that it is Africa’s innovative and resilient entrepreneurs that will solve the continent’s socio economic challenges and determine its destiny.
From this, the City of Gold to Dar Es Salaam, from Musina to Marrakesh, from Lephalale to Lagos, our continent salutes the women and men, the young and the elderly, who are reasserting Africa’s status as a centre for entrepreneurship.
During Global Entrepreneurship Week and beyond, we must recognise and celebrate you because you are the engines of economic growth and agents for development.
You are Africa’s merchants of hope.
We look up to you to collaborate beyond borders to pursue opportunities that will create employment for our people.
We are grateful to Africa’s global partners who are enthusiastic and committed to cultivating and supporting Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
We applaud the members and leadership of the Global Entrepreneurship Network for travelling far to be with us today and for joining us on our journey towards an entrepreneurial generation.
We are also pleased, humbled and honoured that you have chosen South Africa to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March 2017.
The events planned for Global Entrepreneurship Week allow us not only to share encouraging stories – and cautionary tales – from small business owners.
It is also a marketplace for new ideas.
It is a place to see opportunities, and to act on them.
It is a unique business fair bringing together policy makers, experts, investors and entrepreneurs.
This week is about the realisation of human potential.
It is as much about the individual entrepreneur as it is about the society that produces them.
It is also about the society that they – through their endeavours – will ultimately produce.
The participants in these events are motivated by a desire to succeed.
They are equally driven by a passion to defeat the scourge of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We all know that small businesses contribute considerably to job creation and economic growth in several developing economies.
Our National Development Plan enjoins all social partners in our country to work together to create fertile conditions to grow small enterprises.
The Department of Small Business Development, working with other stakeholders in our developmental state, is championing SMME development.
It is active on the frontline, promoting localisation, preferential procurement, mentoring and incubation of entrepreneurs.
It is an advocate for better financing, training and support of entrepreneurs.
It is the sworn enemy of the regulatory obstacles and bureaucratic ineffeciency that stand in the way of promising new enterprises.
It is leading the government-wide effort to create an environment that fully supports small businesses.
The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report on South Africa highlights several of the challenges we face.
The report attributes South Africa’s weak job-creating capacity in part to our failure to adequately support enterprise development.
It highlights our country’s stubbornly low levels of entrepreneurial activity and entrepreneurial intentions when compared to many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The report notes that entrepreneurs in South Africa are almost four times more likely to anticipate making no contribution to job creation besides self-employment for the entrepreneurs themselves.
Black Africans still make up the majority of South Africa’s early-stage entrepreneurs.
But their participation has sharply declined.
The GEM Report notes that:
“In 2013 and 2014, approximately 85% of South Africa’s early-stage entrepreneurs were Black Africans. In 2015 this figure has declined by a fifth, to 68%.”
Constraints to entrepreneurship in South Africa are said to derive from inept government bureaucracy, inadequate entrepreneurship education and training at schools and social norms.
The GEM Report also says that South Africa’s national culture seems to discourage entrepreneurial risk-taking.
This observation masks a deeper reality: under apartheid, over many decades, the entrepreneurial instincts of South Africa’s majority were deliberately and cynically suppressed.
Unless we acknowledge and confront this reality, we will continue to undermine the effort to foster an entrepreneurial culture.
Blacks were stripped of land and assets, denied rights to establish businesses and deprived of opportunities to develop skills.
Like wealth and privilege, entrepreneurial capacity is often passed down through the family from generation to generation.
I was myself once a business person, and I couldn’t help noticing how many of my white counterparts had been exposed from an early age to the language and logic of business.
Many of them came from families where dinner table conversation often turned to sales, profit and financing, about new enterprises and failed ventures.
Not only did these people have the advantage of a better education, access to resources and ready-made networks; they also left home with many of the ingredients of an entrepreneurial mindset.
That is the deficiency we have only just begun to address.
We have significantly improved access to both school and higher education.
We have instituted employment equity and black empowerment programmes that have created a significant middle class that is starting to accumulate assets and savings.
We have reduced asset poverty through the provision of subsidised housing and the redistribution of land.
But there is a great deal we still need to do, specifically within the foundational phase of schooling.
Just as we confront the legacy of our past, we need to address one of the economic challenges of the present.
The structure of our economy has established high barriers to entry.
The Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, Mr David Lipton, recently spoke about a huge part of South Africa’s labour force that ‘is left on the outside looking in’.
He said:
“The formal economy is not absorbing them, nor are they able to strike out on their own.
“There is a crucial structural issue at play here: those included and successful in the advanced economy – large businesses, banks and unionised workers – maintain entry barriers against their potential competitors – small and medium-sized enterprises and the unemployed.
“In situations like this, the government should represent the interests of the excluded. However, some policies, regulations or actions only raise higher barriers.’
Indeed, a number of sectors of our economy are dominated by a few big players, costs of entry are high, and anti-competitive behaviour is widespread.
As government, we have recognised that we may unwittingly reinforce this market dominance through bureaucratic inefficiency and costly regulatory requirements.
However, we have made important progress in strengthening the competition authorities, using government’s purchasing power to promote emerging businesses, and refining the BEE codes of good practice to emphasise enterprise development.
While there is much in the South African entrepreneurial ecosystem from which we can draw inspiration – and from which we derive great hope – I have intentionally dwelled slightly more on the key constraints and obstacles.
I have done so to challenge all of us to work together to change the status quo and to allow small business to flourish.
I have done so to appeal to big business to partner with small business to grow an inclusive economy and give our youth work experience.
Leaders of established business must mentor more and invest more in young talent.
We must work together to urgently introduce those reforms that will foster a more enabling environment for SMME development.
We must find innovative ways to work and provide the necessary support to young women in particular to get involved in sustainable opportunity-driven enterprises.
Together, we must make sure, that by 2030, we have created a South Africa where, in the word of the National Development Plan:
We are traders.
We are inventors.
We are workers.
We create companies.
We set up stalls.
We are studious.
We are gardeners.
We feel a call to serve.
We make things.
Out of our homes we create objects of value.
We invest and reap good returns for our efforts.
We travel to trade beyond our borders,
carrying our values with us.
We respect ability, competence and talent.
Now our economy is growing.
Our prosperity is increasing.
We are energised by our resourcefulness.
I wish you all a successful Global Entrepreneurship Week.
From here, we must agree that entrepreneurship will occupy the centre of our national discourse.
To defeat poverty, unemployment and inequality, entrepreneurship must be part of the daily conversations in our homes, around the dinner table, in community halls and classrooms, and on radio stations.
This is a country and a continent alive with possibility.
We are looking to the entrepreneurs of Africa to unleash the potential of our people and realise that potential.
I thank you.
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Launch Lab – Pitching Opportunities

Launch Lab   has opportunities to pitch an idea. Selling an idea is never easy, and the videos on the website provide some useful and inspirational examples of how to pitch an idea.
The current challenges are in the following areas:

Banking Challenge

This challenges is specifically looking for new business ideas that address:

  • Enhancing client experiences using connected devices (IoT)
  • New ways to utilise mobile technology to further promote financial inclusion
  • Innovative methods to on-board and activate new clients (e.g. remote client verification)
  • Platforms to promote money transfers or fundraising for small business e.g. crowd-funding and peer-to-peer lending
  • New opportunities to leverage ATM devices for increased client activity
  • Incorporate gamification to entice deeper client engagement with banking products

 Retail Challenge

This challenge is looking for businesses that address:

  • Responding to ecommerce
  • Customer experience, comfort and convenience
  • Payments within our properties
  • Operational issues: utilities, security, cleaning

Tshimologong – Jozi's new digital playground

Johannesburg has a new space to support digital entrepreneurs, or is it tech entrepreneurs. WITS University hot on the heels of an improved international ranking has launched the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct. In the following extract from the announcement they explain the intent. Go visit the website for more details. Click here. 

Wits is transforming Braamfontein into a young, vibrant precinct for its notable tech-savvy and innovative community.
The University of the Witwatersrand and its partners in government, business and industry have officially launched the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Setswana for “new beginnings”, Tshimologong is Johannesburg’s newest high-tech address in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein, where the incubation of start-ups, the commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths will take place.

Through Wits’ Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), Tshimologong has been three years in the making and is a dynamic development that encourages tech innovation and collaboration between the University’s researchers and students and the private, public and civil society sectors in Johannesburg.

Building the city’s technology ecosystem

Programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs and start-ups will congregate in this half-a-city-block along Juta Street. It has flexible open-plan co-working areas with broadband connectivity for ICT start-ups, meeting and refreshment zones, computer laboratories, training rooms, maker spaces, creative content development environments, and administrative and infrastructure support offices.
Drawing on models that have proved hugely successful in major cities around the world, Wits is driving the development of a successful technology ecosystem in the centre of Africa’s most important business and economic hub. It will complement the University’s suite of ICT-related offerings in research, courses and programmes in software engineering, data science, big data, digital business, and others.
“Wits aims to inspire the development of a new generation of digital technology experts, innovators and entrepreneurs and Tshimologong will provide an enabling space for our country’s most creative young minds to develop new digital technologies that are crucial to South Africa’s economic growth and international competitiveness,” says Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Wits University.

Open through membership

Not only accessible or open to University researchers and students, the Precinct is membership-based and will provide a space for skills development in the software and digital technology sector, help address unemployment, and encourage the growth of new businesses.
An important element of the Tshimologong Precinct is the recently launched IBM Research Lab, the first such facility anywhere in the world that is tightly integrated into an innovation hub.
An addition to the Tshimologong development is the establishment by Wits of The DIZ (Digital Innovation Zone), a fantastic space in Smit Street Braamfontein where creatives, innovators and programmers can come together and collaborate.
– See more at: http://www.wits.ac.za/news/latest-news/general-news/2016/tshimologong/tshimologong—jozis-new-digital-playground

Growth Downcast, Elites Read Us The Riot Act: Link RoundUp 5

Growth! What Growth

The IMF and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) indicated that South Africa will continue to grow slowly, or in the case of the SARB not at all. The SARB projects a growth rate of 0% for 2016. Bloomberg has a good summary of the IMF reasoning. The SARB says:

The domestic economic growth outlook remains extremely challenging, following the contraction in G DP in the first quarter of this year. Although this is anticipated to have been the low point of the cycle, the recovery is expected to be weak. The Bank’s latest forecast is for zero per cent growth in 2016, compared with 0,6 per cent previously. Growth r ates of 1,1 per cent and 1,5 per cent are forecast for the next wo years, down from 1,3 per cent and 1,7 per cent previously. The Bank’s estimate of potential output has been revised down marginally to 1,4 per cent in 2016, rising to 1,7 per cent in 2018. This growth outlook is corroborated by the persistent negative trend in the Bank’s leading indicator of economic activity. Business confidence remains low with the RMB/BER business confidence indicator falling to its lowest level since 2009 in the second quarter of this year.

For the full version, and some interesting assumptions, click this link.

IMF on Bridging South Africa’s Economic Divide

David Lipton (First Deputy Managing Director, IMF) delievred a speech at WITS Business School. It is an important speech, with Business Day provided a good review of the major points in the speech.  Peter Bruce provides an endorsement of the ideas presented by Dr. Lipton.  I was in attendance, and was not impressed with the argument being made, because it does not tackle distributional issues, and instead argues that market efficiency will solve youth unemployment and our growth problems. More on this in coming issues.

What books do the policy elites read?

The Government Technical and Advisory Centre held an interesting Winter School. I did not attend, but the presentations look interesting and challenging. Particapants provided a list of books they would recommend [PDF]. It provides an interesting insight into what policymakers are reading, thinking and in the fancy term what the ‘ epistemic community” values. We would recommend to each of them to read the $100 Start Up and The White Tiger.

Provincial Economies

Our policy elites should also take note of provincial economics.  Entrepreneurs should take note as well. The Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) has released the annual REB Provincial Review analyses developments in the real economy and in development policies and projects at the provincial level. The 2016 bulletin is now available. See The Real Economy Bulletin Provincial Review 2016.
Cover Image: From the GTAC Newsletter

Young South African entrepreneurs recognised for community-driven business ideas

A select group of 18 young entrepreneurs from across the country showcased their community-driven business ideas at the annual JA South Africa Company of the Year Competition, held at Citi Bank Plaza, Sandton on 14 July 2016.
The Competition, which acknowledges the growing importance of entrepreneurship among young South Africans who have the potential to contribute towards the country’s economic prosperity, is hosted in partnership with Citi. It highlights business ideas conceptualised by grade 10 – 11 learners participating in JA South Africa’s Mini Enterprise- and Entrepreneurship Academy Programmes.
The winning team was Core Vortex from McAuley House that presented decorative jars made from recycled material. They were awarded with a cash prize for their school, flights for the team and a chaperone to Harare, Zimbabwe to compete in the JA Africa Regional Company of the Year Competition taking place in December 2016.
Second and third place were awarded to Glamorous Creations from Stanger Manor Secondary School, KwaZulu Natal for its Medical Alert Bracelet that allows a person to carry vital medical information on them in style and Flip To Fold from Malibu High School, Western Cape that presented a clothes- folding device made from recyclable material respectively.
“Our experiential programmes run throughout the year and ignite a spark in young people to experience and realise the opportunities, realities and challenges of the working environment,” says Nelly Mofokeng, acting managing director of JA South Africa. “The creative business ideas put forward at this year’s Company of the Year Competition is testament to the success of our programmes.”
The learners, from nine different schools across South Africa, were selected to pitch their team business plans to a panel of external judges. All qualifying teams first attended a series of mentorship workshops leading up to the competition to help improve their business ideas, problem-solving, leadership and presentation skills.
Judges’ assessments were based on a number of criteria, including business idea clarity, the team’s ability to think critically, understanding basic business principles and the sustainability and relevance of the product or service to embodying social responsibility.
“Citi has funded JA experiential in-school and out-of- school programmes through a global partnership spanning over 30 years. We are proud to partner with Citi SA on this momentous occasion for the second consecutive year,” says Mofokeng.
“The Citi Foundation is focused on providing youth with the career readiness tools and opportunities needed to thrive in the 21st century economy. Together with JA South Africa, we are helping youth build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills and begin to engage in the formal economy.  The Company of the Year Competition has been nothing short of phenomenal. The teams showed real business acumen and presentation skills, which is rarely seen in entrepreneurs this young,” said Citi SSA Head of Trade and Treasury solutions, Peter Crawley.
Schools who were selected to participate in the Company of the Year Competition are:

School Business name Product / service description
Vulamazibuko High School in Mdantsane, Eastern Cape Royalty Seasonal school uniform with scarves, hats and rain jackets that can be branded for the school
Stanger Manor Secondary School in Stanger, KwaZulu Natal Glamorous Creations Emergency charm bracelet to allow the person wearing the bracelet to carry vital medical information on them in style
Phl Moraka, Sikhululekile and Makgetse High Schools in Hammanskraal, Gauteng Omnipotence Brooms and stationery containers made from recycled materials
McAuley House in Parktown, Gauteng Core Vortex Decorative jars made from recycled materials
Malibu High School in Blue Downs, Western Cape Flip To Fold Clothes-folding device made from recyclable materials
St Anne’s High School in Bapong Village, North West Mvelo Holdings Mobile movie screening and refreshments station
Motse Maria High School in Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo Lucrative Corporation Range of themed, beaded bracelets for various major events and special occasions.
Suikerland Secondary in Malelane, Mpumalanga Victors Incorporated Custom-designed pens with a rubber grip for comfortable writing, topped with erasers shaped like each of the ‘Big Five’ animals
Vuyolwethu High School in Ipeleng, Northern Cape Young Explorers Delectable range of themed toffee-apples

About JA South Africa
Junior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa) is a non- profit organisation affiliated to JA Worldwide (www.jaworldwide.org), one of the largest business education organisations in the world, operating in over 120 countries. For the past 37 years, JA South Africa has been providing essential entrepreneurial and financial literacy programmes to young people of all ages, across the country, in both rural and urban environments. JA’s unique, experiential programmes ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.
Article courteosy of tribeca public relations

Better and Faster? Link RoundUp 3

Good News – Better and faster? . A couple of interesting developments during the past week:
WITS to launch a high tech journalism incubator – This is a very cool idea, because more and diverse media is so important in our society. And the SABC has worrying censorship position. ZApreneur takes a moment to say we disagree with any censorship at the SABC.
SA jumps 10 places on global ICT index. South Africa has performed well in the latest edition of the Global Information Technology Report’s Networked Readiness Index published by the World Economic Forum, jumping 10 places to 65th position overall worldwide. Sometimes, we need good news, and a reminder that starting up in South Africa has many advantages.
5 global accelerators supporting African startups: Disrupt Africa has an insightful review of global accelerators supporting African startups.  The cover photo for this post shows founders of Sweep South who were accepted into a global accelerator.
I am hoping that readers think more is less. Just a few links every week.