Economic Spotlight on Southern African Entrepreneurs in Industry 4.0

International industry experts are in attendance at the First Africa Tech Conference, hosted by the Southern Africa Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA) in partnership with the City of Ekurhuleni and Monash SA. The two-day conference, held at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, is focusing on innovation in business incubation and acceleration, repositioning the sector to prepare and sustain the entrepreneurship ecosystem for the future.

Speaking at the event, Minister Lindiwe Zulu, highlighted the critical need to reduce the crippling effects of government bureaucracy on small business growth.

“Africa is no longer playing catch up with the rest of the world, we are competing with it. And we are competing in a digital economy with a rate of change faster than the world has seen for the last 300 years. Through SEDA and initiatives like the SABTIA Tech Conference, we can unlock the economic potential of South African Entrepreneurs, enabling them to access high quality and innovative business support. We also have to ensure that we are driven by local realities and ensure that our support mechanisms are relevant to the South African realities of rural and township economies.”

Other key debates coming out of the conference include:
The launch of the South Africa Business Incubation Conference in November.
Integrating the new skills sets, required for Industry 4.0 and the knowledge era, into our education institutions.
Ensuring the implementation of cross-departmental (transversal) agreements inside Government (i.e agreements between DSB and DST) which will support inclusive innovation and development.
How to localise critical global content and best practice

“Incubators, traditionally designed as support systems, are developing into growth acceleration mechanisms, critical to the improvement of the SMME success rate. SABTIA aims to build a more inclusive incubation and acceleration system which will better serve small businesses and start-ups, including those in the informal sector – a sector that has largely been ignored by incubation programmes in the past,” says SABTIA Chairperson, Zaid Mohidin.

Southern Africa Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA) is an independent and private association formed to promote and coordinate business incubation in Southern Africa. SABTIA was set up to serve as the industry standard practitioner and members association, by providing the dissemination of knowledge, skills, training and expertise to the ecosystem nationally, continentally and internationally through partnerships with SEDA, DSBN, EBN as well as INBIA.

With the industry entering a new cycle we see more and more countries not only consolidating their ecosystems but more importantly also ensuring that appropriate local models are developed in alignment with global standards. The push to cross-pollinate and to collaborate to develop effective ecosystems – with best practices and standards – is fast becoming a priority. SABTIA has been reformed to address this priority.

Africa Continental Free Trade Area to boost Intra-Africa Trade

One of the biggest challenges African countries face to develop their trading base and volumes has been linked to enshrined historical colonial trade ties that has seen most Afro countries trade (import and exports) being concentrated with their former colonial masters. There has been some progress in diversifying trade partners but it has largely been trade with other major global players were the negotiation power is mostly steeped against the African countries.

These enshrined historical trade deals are so complex and opaque such that the national taxation authorities have limited capacity to understand their underlying transaction and thereby effectively tax them. Moreover, even getting the forex volumes trickling back into the local economies and banking sectors has been limited leading to volatile local forex markets as well as limited sizes of the money markets.

Zambia is no exception to this scenario. Despite its greatest potential for the best trade deals and growing its export volumes being with neighboring countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC which have huge markets for primary products such as fresh farm produce, the country has seen more trade missions to Europe, Asia and the USA.

What these advanced economies need from Zambia for instance is mostly primary goods, Efforts to attract upstream investment in areas such as processing of copper to final goods manufacturing has been met with mere promissory notes. Even diplomatic efforts and establishing of good transport infrastructure to the neighboring Angola and DRC have moved at snails pace when these are the markets that are a low hanging fruit to strike trade deals with.

Zambia hosted for the first time the meeting of the African Union on the Continental Free Trade Area – CFTA from 10th to 15th September, 2018 in Lusaka. “The main purpose of CFTA meetings is to review and consult on outstanding issues on modalities for tariff liberalization, rules of origin and Trade in Services among African Union Member States in order to provide parameters that will guide member states to schedule their tariff and services concessions, and designate their sensitive products and products that will be excluded from liberalization,” Trade Ministry public relations officer Godfridah Chanda told the Zambian Business Times – ZBT

Chanda told ZBT that the African Continental Free Trade Area – AfCFTA is expected to create opportunities for scaling up production for producers, not only in Zambia but in the whole of Africa if properly implemented. The AfCFTA is expected to provide huge market access for produce, and ultimately contribute to job and wealth creation for Zambia in particular and African Countries as a whole.

However, there is a caution that the benefits under the CFTA are not automatic, individual countries such as Zambia need to prepare with their private sector to build the necessary capacity to trade and take advantage of market openness while minimizing the negative impact. Outstanding issues on modalities for negotiations on trade in goods relate to the version of Harmonized System of Commodity Coding and Description will be used as the basis for tariff concessions.

And the proportion of tariffs to be designated as sensitive products and those to be excluded from liberalisation based on options provided during an earlier meeting held in Senegal. The options are 5% sensitive and 5% exclusion; or 7% sensitive and 3% exclusion; or 9% sensitive and 1% exclusion; whether to apply anti-concentration to ensure that countries do not exclude an entire sector from liberalization; how to treat countries that are in a Customs union composed of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Non-LDCs and how to apply flexibilities,” she narrated.

The AfCFTA envisages liberalizing trade of goods and services for African Countries and extends its coverage to investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights. AfCFTA, once fully operational, will be the largest trading bloc in the world, bringing together fifty-five (55) African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than USD 3.4 trillion.

Intra- Africa trade remains a key economic lever that African countries need to take advantage of. Zambia which has eight neighboring countries should put more efforts in completing roads, bridges and transport infrastructure to connect and link up these nearby markets. The country’s diplomatic efforts should also follow a similar trend and facilitate the striking of more trade deals with these neighboring and Great Lakes region countries which are in close proximity and do not need multi-billion dollar capital base for local entrepreneurs to engage in trade.

Tunisia: “Ambition Africa 2018”, an opportunity for local entrepreneurs

“Ambition Africa 2018″, an event to be organized on October 22 and 23, 2018 by Business France and placed under the auspices of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, ” offers an exceptional opportunity for African and French companies to share their expertise, to find prospects or to build partnerships, around conferences, workshops and B2B meetings.

Based on the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron, in Ouagadougou, this event, whose objective is to strengthen the economic and commercial links between Africa and France, will bring together ministers, ambassadors and companies from all over the African continent.

“Ambition Africa 2018” is supported by leading institutional partners, AFD / Proparco, Bpifrance, CIAN, Medef, Medef International, CCEF, Presidential Council for Africa (CPA), French Chambers of Commerce and private sponsors such as CMA-CGM, TOTAL, ENGIE, GENERAL COMPANY, CFAO GROUP, FIDAL, BOLLORE LOGISTICS …

The French Embassy in Tunisia and its Business France office invite Tunisian companies to participate in this forum by registering for free on the following website:



Eskom BIC winners inundated with interest at Small Business Expo in South Africa

Reed Exhibitions and Eskom’s 15-year collaboration to boost small business development again bore fruit at this year’s Small Business Expo (SBE) in Johannesburg.

Carol Weaving, MD of Reed Exhibitions, says the partnership, which sees the Eskom Development Foundation’s Business Investment Competition (BIC) finalists showcased at the leading SBE, thrusts South African small businesses into the fast lane – giving them exposure, networking opportunities and a chance to secure new business partnerships.

“The SBE is focused on building small businesses sustainably, and our ongoing partnership is delivering exceptional results for those small businesses who participate,” says Weaving.

The Eskom Foundation’s BIC and Simama Ranta School Entrepreneurship Education competition are key small business development initiatives that seek to help grow small business and drive economic growth in South Africa. At the SBE, finalists and winners in these competitions are given significant exposure to new business opportunities.

Eskom Foundation CEO Cecil Ramonotsi says the BIC and its partnership with the SBE identifies, rewards and supports growth in existing small black-owned businesses in key sectors. “The competition, and our partnership with the SBE, successfully boost viable small businesses, helping them to take their business to the next level,” he says.

This year, Eskom Foundation’s BIC finalists were inundated with interest at the expo, reporting that they ran out of business cards and had scores of business meetings lined up, with promising new business opportunities presenting themselves. The BIC and SBE proved to be an eye-opening experience for the BIC finalists, many of whom had never before participated in an expo such as this.

The BIC, now in its ninth year, recognises promising and sustainable black-owned small businesses, awarding a total of R300,000 in growth funding to the overall winner. Besides the exhibition space, finalists are also given an opportunity to attend the free business development workshops during the expo.

The rare opportunity to engage with leading enterprises and corporates, and the high levels of interest from potential investors and business partners at the expo caught the BIC finalists by surprise: “The three days of exposure at the expo have been worth more than a year of marketing for me. By this time next year, I think my business will be twice the size it is now, thanks to interest generated through the BIC and the expo,” said Phindile Ncube, Director of Phakama Services Group, first runner-up in the BIC’s Engineering and Construction category.

Ncube said she was stunned by the entire experience: “When they called me to tell me I was a finalist, I was shocked, and when they called my name as first runner-up, I was like ‘what?’ Now no matter how many times I fall, I have to get back up because I know Eskom will be watching. I have to do great things because they are expecting it,” she said.

Both expo visitors and fellow exhibitors proved to be potential business leads, the BIC finalists said. “My entire market is everyone who is here,” Ncube said.

“I’ve never even thought about exhibiting at an expo before. As a business we were lacking on our marketing,” said Nyadzeni Makhado, founder of this year’s overall winner, Prodeliver Group. Prodeliver, based in Rivonia, provides logistics and mining services including transportation.  “The high volume and quality of interactions at the expo have made us realise that expos are definitely worthwhile,” he said.

“The media exposure we gained by winning the BIC has been phenomenal, and our stand in the exhibition area attracted a great deal of interest. Thanks to this exposure, I now have several business and investment meetings lined up that will open new avenues for growth. In fact, I have had so much interest that I believe I also need to get a social media presence and upgrade my site to help deal with enquiries,” Makhado said.

“Through the competition and the expo, I’ve secured industry-specific new business leads. On top of that, I managed to attend workshops on branding and learnt a great deal,” said Mbali Mavuso, founder of construction and manufacturing firm EBR.

“Everyone we spoke to at the expo has been relevant to us – some could provide services we need, and others need our services. I had 600 business cards printed for the expo, and they’ve all been handed out,” said Moses Matshiana, founder of Kgabu Projects and Construction.

“We opened our business in the George area because we saw a need there for well-made, affordable school uniforms,” said Letitia Frans of Sew Happy Primary Co-Operative. The co-operative, launched by Frans and co-founder Janine Bruce, was the second runner-up in the BIC Manufacturing category. “Because of the high level of interest we have received at the expo, we are starting to think it may be worth our while to expand our business to Gauteng too,” says Frans.

Peter Lengweng of South Side Plumbing and Construction in Eldorado Park and winner in the BIC Trade and Services category, said participation in the BIC and SBE would make a massive difference to his business. “Because of the expo, three developers have approached us to discuss new projects. I would not have been able to get that business without the expo.”

 About the Small Business Expo

The Small Business Expo, running alongside #BuyaBusiness Expo, is devoted to the development of small and medium sized enterprises, providing an invaluable platform for small businesses to market their businesses and interact with business leaders and corporate companies. This expo exposes visitors to a wide range of business models, incubation programmes, business contacts, speakers and other entrepreneurs who will engage them on starting or growing their business.

The Small Business Expo is presented by Reed Exhibitions in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation and its Business Investment Competition..

For more information, visit


‘Pitch AgriHack 2018’ is a competition organised by CTA to support young agricultural entrepreneurs (agripreneurs) build viable businesses and boost innovation for a more sustainable agricultural sector.

The two categories of start-ups, early stage, those just launching and advanced stage, were judged on criteria including problem(s) addressed, unique value proposition, market addressed, current market traction and revenues.

The winners of the early stage category, Illuminum Greenhouses Kenya, Kenya; Fenou Packaging, Benin; Develop Digitally, Jamaica; Farmignite Company, Nigeria – were rewarded grants of between €5000 and €7500. In the advanced category, CowTribe Africa, Ghana; Agro Innova, Ghana; Ankora Global Services, Nigeria; CLIN SARLU (e-agribusines), Togo received grants between €12000 and €15000. A special prize offered by Suguba Africa to the best Francophone start-up led by a woman was awarded to Fenou Packaging, Benin.

Michael Hailu, Director, CTA: “These are entrepreneurs who have been inspired to make a difference – to help transform agriculture for future generations and to encourage young people to see the potential in farming and agribusiness. They are showing a pathway to enable the modernisation of agriculture. They are shining a light on the hope that will greatly improve rural lives and make agriculture attractive and profitable to youth who are too often migrating to cities in search of better opportunities.”

Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist and Coordinator ENABLE Youth at the African Development Bank: “AfDB is committed to working with youth and women to catalyse entrepreneursip, facilitating access to technologies and networks that will create a thriving agribusiness sector in Africa, increasing rural jobs and improving livelihoods. We believe that Pitch Agrihack offers a value step-up for youn entrepreneurs and we are a proud partner in the initiative.”

Fayelle Ouane, Managing Director, Suguba: “Suguba was proud to offer investment readiness training to the finalists and a few additional start-ups. We were impressed by their energy and their innovative solutions that will help promote agriculture in ACP markets. We offered a prize to the best Francophone start-up led by a woman and look forward to continuing to work with the finalists and strengthening our relationship with CTA.”

The theme for 2018’s competition was “Women entrepreneurs innovate for agricultural transformation in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific”. 26 start-ups, 14 of which are women led, from 9 countries were selected out of 325 young AgriTech start-ups that applied.

Earlier in the week the finalists were shepherded through a boot camp process before pitching their innovations to potential investors and a judging panel.

The panel of judges comprised: Professor Ruth Oniang’o; former winner of the African Food Prize; Ethel Cofie; Founder of EDEL technology also named as one of the Top Five Women impacting IT in Africa; Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, Managing Director of the African Innovation Foundation; Chiji C Ojukwu, former Director of the Department of Agriculture and Agro-industry at the African Development Bank and Thomas Festerling; CFO and Managing Partner of GreenTec Capital Partners.

Since the launch of CTA’s AgriHack Talent Initiative, at least 1 million farmers and agricultural stakeholders have been reached by services provided through the use of applications developed in the process. Start-ups, mostly information and communications technologies (ICT) based innovations, have raised more than two million Euros from other investors and partners.

Pitch AgriHack 2018 is organised with the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Suguba Africa. Other collaborators include Women in Tech Africa and Wennovation Hub.

Pitch your business and stand a chance to win R20,000

Women entrepreneurs will learn to boost their businesses and stand a chance of winning R20,000 in business funding from Standard Bank, during the upcoming Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo.

Standard Bank, a key supporter of women business in South Africa, will present a three-day series of workshops for women entrepreneurs at the Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo in Northriding this week. Standard Bank’s Women in Business Theatre will give women entrepreneurs insights from leading business experts, covering topics such as tools and systems to help you run your business better, the need to take care of self while running a business, and how top women in business conquered the challenges and overcame obstacles on the way to becoming successful in their respective fields.

Visitors to the show will also have an opportunity to go to the Standard Bank Stand and ‘Pitch your Next’ business idea. Entrepreneurs will be invited to record a 30-second pitch, to stand a chance of being selected as one of five successful entrepreneurs to ‘Pitch your Next’ live on stage each day in front of a panel of experts. During the pitches, the shortlisted candidates will get valuable advice from experts on how to craft their business goals. Above all – one lucky applicant will stand a chance to win R20, 000.00 towards their business, courtesy of Standard Bank.

The Small Business Expo, co-located with the #BuyaBusiness Expo, will be staged in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation from 6 – 8 September at the Ticketpro Dome. Online registration by 2 September is free, or R70 at the door, and visitors will benefit from free training in the Standard Bank Women in Business theatre, the Nedbank Money Matters theatre, Business Services theatre and the Eskom Powering your World theatres. Register today at

About the Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo

The Small Business Expo, running alongside #BuyaBusiness Expo, is devoted to the development of small and medium sized enterprises, providing an invaluable platform for small businesses to market their businesses and interact with business leaders and corporate companies. This expo exposes visitors to a wide range of business models, incubation programmes, business contacts, speakers and other entrepreneurs who will engage them on starting or growing their business.

The #BuyaBusiness Expo showcases business opportunities for small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, with a focus on franchise opportunities. The Small Business Expo and #BuyaBusiness Expo feature numerous highlights, including free workshops and talks in the Nedbank Money Matters Theatre, Standard Bank Women in Business Theatre, Eskom Powering Your World theatre and Business Services theatre.  

The Small Business Expo is and #BuyaBusiness Expo are presented by Reed Exhibitions in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation and its Business Investment Competition, and will be held from 6 – 8 September 2018 at the Ticketpro Dome, Northgate. The expo is supported by the Randburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Minara Chamber of Commerce, and is endorsed by the Black Management Forum (BMF) and approved by AAXO.

For more information, visit or