After the show is over

We had a great launch at the MyBizExpo 2018 and a warm reception from the delegates and the other stakeholders who where part of the expo.

Now that the excitement is over, the work begins.

Contacting and following up with the hundreds of interested delegates. Setting appointments with the numerous stakeholders who would like to plays a part in ENN Africa and completing a feedback session on our activities at the expo, both what we did well as well as what we could of done better. All of this started on day 1 of the show as following up is so important. So important it cannot be stated enough.

We had challenges with our internet connection at the expo and so could not demo our product on the first day nor could we show our videos. Not sure what the opportunity cost was of this but my learning was to have a plan B in case.

Our plan B was a manual list and the team took turns writing down the names and contact details of the interested delegates. Was this the best option? Let me know.

International SME Convention – “Business Beyond Borders”

REPUBLIC OF SAN MARINO – February 21th, 2018 – WUSME and INDIA SME FORUM jointly organize an International SMEs Convention in New Delhi (India) on the theme of “Business Beyond Borders” from 22 to 24 April 2018. The event is held in collaboration with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the Government of India.

The International Convention will serve as interactive platform for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, in which to discuss and evaluate opportunities to identify partners, enter into partnerships, export and operate in India in the different focus sectors and the “best practices” to have a successful business.

The conference will also allow participants to learn the best management tools, latest technologies, government programs, financing options, opportunities for international expansion and requirements for doing business in India, through interaction with representatives of the present institutions, governments, free zones, SMEs and banks. The main purpose is to support SMEs in their attempt to expand their business, productivity and international relations, as well as explore new markets, favoring a stronger strengthening of the “Make in India” program.

The event will focus on the opportunities existing in India with reference to specific sectors, such as:

Agro Based; Automobile; Automotive Components; Aviation; Biotechnology; Chemicals; Cold Chain; Construction; Consumer Electronics; Defence Manufacturing; Education & Training; Electrical Eqpt. & Machinery; Electronic Systems; Exploration & Mining; Fashion & Retail; Food Processing; Gems & Jewellery; Health & Wellness; Home Furnishings; Infrastructure; IOT & Information Technology; ITES & BPO/M; Leather & Footwear; Logistics; Machinery & General Mfg.; Media & Entertainment; Oil & Gas; Pharmaceuticals; Ports; Power & Renewable Energy; Railways; Roads and Highways; Shipping; Telecom; Textiles & Garments; Tourism & Hospitality.


The journey starts today

So today is the day. We launch at MyBizExpo2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

From today, I will be posting what preparations where needed to get here, the challenges and opportunities as well as what I did well and where I made mistakes. Of course, I will also be posting where our journey is going as we move forward.

Looking forward to the ride as I haven’t exhibited at a show since about 1996. The energy and excitement is high as I enjoy people a lot and of course I am sharing my passion for entrepreneurship and business.

We are expecting 25,000 over 2 days and I hope these numbers materialised. The Expo is in its 10th year and the hosts, NSBC, are well respected in South Africa. Gallagher Estate, the venue is world class.

Time to get ready and go to work…

Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs takes on 30 new businesses

With new hope burgeoning throughout the South African business environment as fundamental political change sweeps through the country, the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme ( has inducted 42 new beneficiaries from 30 different SMMEs for a year of intense training, coaching, mentorship and support – to assist them to professionalise and grow their businesses. This brings to 242 the total number of entrepreneurs supported by the programme.

The inductees – 22 women and 20 men – attended a three-day induction at Tsogo Sun’s Crowne Plaza The Rosebank hotel ( in Johannesburg from 31 January to 2 February. This represented the commencement of the programme’s 2018 development year, which incorporates the provision of customised analysis and strategic plans tailored to the specific needs of each enrolled business, business management courses provided by the University of Cape Town and facilitated by GetSmarter; Financial literacy courses through the Colour Accounting system, Microsoft Office courses, and Sales & Marketing training.  The beneficiaries are each assigned a business analyst, a financial mentor and a leadership coach who work with them to implement their business strategies throughout the year.

This year’s class of 2018 entrepreneurs is made up of 30 small businesses operating in provinces across six provinces in South Africa in a diverse range of market sectors that include: tourism, ICT, cleaning, professional services, manufacturing, retail, health and beauty, agriculture and secretarial and administrative services. Candy Tothill, Tsogo Sun’s GM of Corporate Affairs, says “Part of the value of such a diverse group is that it creates opportunities for the businesses to trade with each other.”

She adds, “Job creation is increasingly crucial in South Africa, as unemployment has reached unprecedented levels, particularly among the youth. Through the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme, we identify and assist people running their own businesses to professionalise their operations in an effort to make them viable employers who are sustainable businesses and contributors to the growth of the country’s economy.  At the same time, we encourage them to be “conscious” consumers who procure local products and services and support each other by keeping it local and proudly South African.  We are interested in changing their approaches from “managerial” mindsets to “leadership” mindsets, and so we motivate them to be fearless in their approach to growth with purpose. The programme provides them with the skills to enhance their strategic planning and performance and the wisdom to “pay it forward” by training them to become leaders in their communities.  The role that the programme’s mentors and coaches play in instilling these values is of great significance to the achievement of our objectives.”

Belinda Francis, MD of Tych Solutions, a generalist recruitment agency based in Durban with offices in Johannesburg and Eastern Cape, was enthusiastic about joining the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs programme. “Tsogo Sun is an amazing brand to be associated with, but more so, having met the team at a Supplier Showcase and heard others’ success stories, I was hungry to learn more and be a part of this journey. I don’t have an active partner and so I believe this programme will help to grow and empower me and my entire team even further. I am big on empowering and developing people and small businesses – and this will certainly create the platform for me to do so.”

Entrepreneur Carol Mlangeni, director of Enhle Creatives Photography & Design, also based in Durban, says she was browsing the internet looking for guidance on how to resolve issues within her company when she saw a Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs advertisement – and immediately responded. “I have issues within my business and I have been looking for answers on how to resolve them and grow my business and my brand awareness – I hope to achieve this through this programme.” Mlangeni adds that her future plans include providing job opportunities for “other aspiring enthusiasts like me”.

Thato Senosi is Founder of Magauta Designs and Projects, which supplies custom-made curtains, upholstery, and furniture repairs, and is based in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni. He was introduced to Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs by his mother, Carol Senosi, who joined the programme in 2016 and was a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He says he joined the programme because “I believe that entrepreneurship is a science, and one needs to put together all the necessary tools and formulas to build a successful business – and this programme offers that. My expectations this year are to identify missing formulas and find solutions, to be monitored and supported, and helped to become a great version of myself so I can inspire others, because no man is an island.” His plans for the future include starting his own textile manufacturing company and bringing industry into the township to help combat some of the social challenges in his local community.

Says Tothill, “It’s encouraging to see the growing reach of Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs throughout the country and in a diverse range of businesses, and we wish our new beneficiaries – the Class of 2018 – every success through the year as they discover new ways to develop themselves and their enterprises.”

Tsogo Sun has a portfolio of over 100 hotels and 13 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa and the Seychelles. For more details, visit, follow on Twitter @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.  Visit the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneurs on Facebook: Facebook/TsogoEntrepreneurs and follow #TsogoEntrepreneurs on Twitter and Instagram.

Off-grid power pioneers pour into West Africa

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Standing by a towering equatorial forest, Jean-Noel Kouame’s new breeze-block house may be beyond the reach of Ivory Coast’s power grid, but it’s perfectly located for solar power entrepreneurs.

Buoyed by success in East Africa, off-grid solar power startups are pouring into West Africa, offering pay-as-you-go kits in a race to claim tens of millions of customers who lack reliable access to electricity.

At least 11 companies, including leading East African players such as Greenlight Planet, d.light, Off-Grid Electric (OGE), M-KOPE Solar, Fenix International and BBOXX, have moved into the region, most within the last two years.

With a potential market worth billions of dollars, major European energy companies such as French utilities EDF and Engie are taking notice too.

“It’s important to be there now, because the race has already started,” said Marianne Laigneau, senior executive vice president of EDF’s international division.

The main challenge facing smaller companies now is how to raise enough capital to supply the expensive solar kits in return for small upfront payments from customers.

Mobilizing funding for firms providing home solar systems is also part of the U.S. government’s Power Africa initiative. Major power generation projects have been slow to get off the ground so Power Africa has partnered with startups such as OGE, M-KOPE and d.light, among others, to accelerate off-grid access.

In Abidjan, Kouame doesn’t know when, or if, the national grid will reach the outer edge of the urban sprawl, but thanks to his new solar panel kit he has indoor lighting, an electric fan and a television.

But it’s the light bulb hanging outside his front door that he values the most.

“At night we were scared to go outside,” the 31-year-old taxi driver says as his pregnant wife watches a dubbed Brazilian soap opera. “Where there is light there is safety.”

Some 1.2 billion people around the world have no access to a power grid, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Lighting and phone charging alone costs them about $27 billion a year and some estimates put their total annual energy costs at more than $60 billion.

While governments in much of the developing world are extending access to national networks, Africa is lagging, with less than 40 percent of African households connected, IEA figures show.

But what has long been decried as a major obstacle to Africa’s development is viewed as an opportunity by entrepreneurs such as Nir Marom, co-founder of Lumos Global, the Dutch startup that built and sold Kouame his kit.

“I read an article about people paying 50 cents a day for kerosene and candles, and that just didn’t make sense,” said Marom. “I said I can give them four kilowatt hours for the price of kerosene. And that started everything.”

Lumos Global’s kits, which cost about $600, include a solar panel linked to a battery that supports power sockets, a mobile phone adapter and LED light bulbs.

Kouame, who paid 30,000 CFA francs ($57) upfront for his kit, is now leasing-to-own. A digital counter on the yellow battery pack tells him when he needs to top up his account using his mobile phone.

If he doesn’t pay, the kit, which also houses a global positioning system, shuts down. But in five years, he’ll own it outright and his solar power will be free.

“Five years is nothing,” he says, already weighing the option of another system to run a large freezer sitting empty and unplugged in the corner of his living room. “So my wife can do a little business.”

Pay-as-you-go solar home systems (SHS) like Kouame’s have been the main driver of off-grid power expansion in Africa.

In 2010, when most purchases were limited to simple lighting systems, customers spent $30 to $80 on average over a product’s lifetime, according to GOGLA, an independent off-grid industry association.

Now it’s $370 to $1,120.

Global revenues from the pay-as-you-go SHS sector were $150 million to $200 million in 2016, GOGLA estimates. That should jump to $6 billion to $7 billion in 2022.

Are you ready to pitch on Facebook with Epson South Africa?

The OEM’s South African division is on the lookout for new start-ups via a Facebook contest.

Epson South Africa has launched a new campaign to support the entrepreneurs and start-up companies of the future, IT Online reports.

#EpsonEntrepreneur is asking South Africans to nominate aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up owners by submitting a 300-word ‘elevator pitch’ – or a three-minute video pitch – of their business idea to its Facebook page. Self-nomination is also allowed. Top entries will then be profiled on the Epson South Africa Facebook page, before a winner is revealed.

The lucky victor will win a small-business starter pack, comprising an Epson EcoTank ITS L6190 printer, an Epson EB-X41 business projector, a corporate identity and marketing starter plan, and PR support for their launch announcement.

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for South Africa, in 2016-17, showed that 37.9 percent of South Africans believes they have what it takes to start their own business. It is based on this feeling of potential that Epson has launched the #EpsonEntrepreneur campaign, in order to encourage people to take the plunge.

Timothy Thomas, Epson South Africa’s consumer sales manager, said: “Our economy is sustained by small and medium enterprises (SMEs.) Epson recognises that by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial South Africans, they can turn their budding ideas into a start-up business. We encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to submit their business elevator pitch – no matter how big or small the idea may seem.”

“After all,” Thomas added, “our entrepreneurs are South Africa’s future.” Nominations close on the 22nd of March, with the winner being revealed a day later, on the Facebook page.

Epson has also announced a partnership with entrepreneurial start-up Heavy Chef, which hosts events, workshops, and tours focussing on leadership, creativity, and technology in order to imbue local entrepreneurs with inside insights and skills. The partnership has been set up in order to identify and share the stories of successful local entrepreneurs, and to encourage nominations by Heavy Chef attendees.

Water crisis in Cape Town offers opportunities

Are you an entrepreneur committed to solving environmental challenges? Can your product or service unlock possibilities in water and resource sustainability?

Business development specialists Fetola are launching GROUNDSWELL, a new initiative to accelerate the success of small businesses offering products and services in the water, sustainability and resource efficiency sectors. This practical programme, supported by seed funding from J.P. Morgan, builds entrepreneurial skills and helps big corporates and small business owners do better business together.

Thirty South African entrepreneurs will benefit from an intensive 18-month growth programme of business skills training, mentorship, supply chain inclusion, investment readiness preparation, and access to markets. Enviropreneurs, waterpreneurs and greentrepreneurs are invited to apply. Established enterprises with growth potential and start-ups or emerging businesses that have already invested in their initial concept are welcome.

GROUNDSWELL encourages collaboration between entrepreneurs and citizens, technical advisors and Government stakeholders, and corporates needing recognised suppliers of sustainable solutions. Participants in Fetola programmes typically grow by 50% per year, and have a long-term survival rate of close to 90%.

If you’re a small business owner who is keen to scale your resource efficiency or water-related business, please email or call 086 111 1690 toll free.

Applications will be accepted until 9 March

South Africa the most developed startup ecosystem in Africa

South Africa has the most developed startup ecosystem in Africa,  ahead of Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria according to a new report released by Startupblink, a global startup ecosystem map with tens of thousands of registered startups, co-working spaces, and accelerators.

Startupblink’s global ranking index comprises of 125 countries and 900 cities measuring startup ecosystem strength and activity, and finds the top countries in Africa are South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and Nigeria, ranked 38th, 53rd, 54th and 57th respectively. Their top cities were Cape Town, Nairobi, Cairo, and Lagos.

The United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Canada, Israel and Germany took the top five places on the ranking, with North African countries Tunisia (65) and Morocco (67) the next African markets to feature.

Mauritius (73), Ghana (83), Cameroon (85), Uganda (88), Zambia (89), Botswana (93), Mali (99) and Ethiopia (100) were the other African ecosystems to make the global top 100.

Two African countries were also ranked joint last of the 125 startup ecosystems Startupblink has data for. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan scored the same total as Cuba and Afghanistan to prop up the rankings.

Those interested can check out the ranking tables here.

African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative launches and calls for inaugural applicants

The US-based not-for-profit organisation, the Centre for Global Enterprise (CGE) has launched a new training programme dedicated to African women entrepreneurs, with applications now open to the inaugural edition of the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC).

AWEC is a year long training programme which is dedicated to building a pan-African community of women entrepreneurs and business owners, and empower them with the strategy, leadership and business management skills needed for growth and economic advancement.

The majority of the programme will be delivered on an online learning platform, involving video tutorials, course activities and materials, and mentoring and coaching sessions.

There will also be a number of peer sessions to facilitate the building of a pan-African network, and to share experiences and develop soft skills.

Two in-person Leadership Summits will be held during the 12 month-long programme – tentatively scheduled for Casablanca, Morocco and Kigali, Rwanda.

Founded by the former IBM chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano, CGE has secured philanthropic funding to cover the fees of all participants.

“AWEC is an inclusive programme and we encourage women from across Africa and its diaspora to apply,” said Karen Sippel, managing director of AWEC.

“We welcome not only the savvy business woman who has successfully run her company for many years and needs additional management skills to scale, but also the employee who has identified a need in her society and aspires to build a company to meet that need. We hope that AWEC is the spark that enables the next great generation of African women entrepreneurs.”

AWEC is industry-agnostic, and entrepreneurs in any discipline can are encouraged to apply.

Applications are open here until February 14.

Calling all African Innovators and Tech Whizzes

Innovators and tech whizzes are being offered an opportunity with the Venture Incubation Programme (VIP) officially opening applications for 2018. The programme has already assisted over 30 start-ups in the past two years and is run by the Solution Space and MTN at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB), one of Africa’s top business schools.

At over ZAR300 000 value, the programme offers start-ups mentorship, workshops and industry expertise to support the development of new ventures and validate business models, as well as provide access to funding, networks, exposure and recognition.

“We call on digital start-ups from all over Africa who are looking to get a foot in the door to take advantage of this amazing opportunity,” says Sarah-Anne Alman, Solution Space Manager.

She acknowledges that, the first 90 days of a start-up are the hardest and when entrepreneurs are least supported. This programme is geared to present entrepreneurs with all the tools needed to implement their ideas and bring them to fruition.

“The idea is to inspire, nurture and equip the next generation of entrepreneurs to build a better future for the African continent,” states Alman.

Launched in 2016, the VIP has supported various successful businesses like eating-out app Feastfox and chatting platform Chat2Brand as well as online emotional intelligence platform Mygrow and consumer neuroscience consultancy Neural Sense.

As a proud partner of the VIP, MTN sees their partnership as an opportunity to spearhead the company’s engagement with innovation driven start-ups as potential service providers and develop the ecosystem around MTN’s digital service platforms.

“Innovative ideas and technology disruption are the way of the future and MTN is at the forefront of helping to pioneer solutions that impact and shape the future of the continent,” according to Stephen van Coller, MTN Group VP for Digital Services, Data Analytics and Business Development.

“The MTN Group is interested in start-ups that are contributing to sustainability on the African continent through digital solutions for commerce, health, education, agriculture, fintech, energy and the Internet of Things (IoT),” adds Van Coller.

Ideal applicants for the Venture Incubation Programme are teams of a minimum of two entrepreneurs, comprising a founder or major shareholder, who are able to attend a 12-week programme, for approximately 30 hours a week at the Solution Space in Cape Twin, South Africa.

Applicants should already have initial concept demonstrating a deep understanding of the market environment and potential problems. They should also pose a compelling solution that is innovation-driven and scalable. A minimum viable product ready to conduct early-market testing and further establish the product or market fit is an added advantage.

“We are looking for people who have commitment and passion. We want the doers, the movers, the makers and the creators to apply for this programme,” adds Alman.

 Applications for the Venture Incubation Programme close on 28 February 2018.

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