In a tough national and global economy, what do the really clever people do? They start their own businesses. In fact, more people should be encouraged to become entrepreneurs. It’s estimated there are some 2,8 million diverse small and medium enterprises in South Africa, and they account for a contribution to GDP of anywhere between 34% and 60%, depending on whose statistics you consult.

The Western Cape has placed entrepreneurship high on the agenda of economic development. This year, the Department of Economic Development launched an SMME support platform, which is aimed at helping small businesses to become more digitally savvy. Anything, from support services, mentorships and access to funding institutions, is at the fingertips of entrepreneurs. Reducing red tape is a vital part of ensuring business ideas get off the ground.

Celebrating the successes of small business owners is also important, to inspire others to follow the same path.

The winners of the Western Cape Entrepreneurship Awards were crowned this week, with Oco Life, a holistic lifestyle business using traditional African herbs to create organic essential oils, walking away with the overall award and the award for the best women-owned business.

The new MEC of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schafer, is picking up where Alan Winde left off, emphasising the need to recognise self-starters.

“We wanted to create a platform that recognises and supports our most inspiring, high-potential entrepreneurs, and at the same time raise awareness around entrepreneurship and contribute to a culture where entrepreneurship is understood and valued for the role it plays in our economy and our society.”

“Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the tools that are going to help us tackle unemployment in this country. But in order to contribute meaningfully towards job creation, businesses need to be able to grow and between government and the private sector, we need to create the kind of environment that encourages entrepreneurial activity and supports its growth.”

“We need to start thinking of and promoting entrepreneurship as a career choice rather than something people accidentally fall into or are forced to do,” she added.

Winners in five categories – women-owned, emerging, most innovative, social enterprise and township business – received cash as well as training and mentorship prizes, while all nine winners also received laptop computers. The top businesses in the Western Cape’s key industries of agri-processing, digital technology, tourism and creative, were also named.

Well done to all the winners! Hopefully, your achievements will inspire many more to follow.


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Liesl Smit – News Manager, Smile 90.4FM News