A couple of months back, Colette Symanovitz, Marc Ashton and myself got together to see what could be done to continue to uplift our entrepreneur sector. There are already a couple of successful programmes, incubators and industry leaders (too often their stories aren't told) - and yet still we see funding gaps, bad business plans, bad pitches and a sea of entrepreneurs forced into service industries. Don't get me wrong, service industries are necessary in the business "mix", and they're not all that bad - but they're certainly not "make money while you sleep" approaches. Different strokes for different folks.
Or even worse? Entrepreneurs forced into survivalist entrepreneurship - the bane of big thinking.
South Africa is a magnificent country with resilient, social people. Perhaps there is a way we can help.
Cue the launch of Mzansi Gold - Connecting Angel Investors to High Potential Entrepreneurs. The strap line is first goal - but definitely not the journey. We really want to dig in and find out what our startup industry looks like, across all sectors, not just tech. Perhaps we'll find (as we sometimes suspect) that funding isn't the answer. Better business plans and better pitches are what's needed. Perhaps we'll find those gem businesses who require Angel level funding (between R500k and R10 mil) to ignite. Who knows.
All I know is that the space is starting to get a vibe. From the activity in Silicon Cape (tech sector) to the launch of our first official funding vehicle and network for Angels (Angel Hub) - there's a buzz about entrepreneurship again that's getting me excited.
I'll never forget the project back in my first startup (gAL, student community portal) that gives me tingles to this day. Not because it made a lot of money, but because it made an impact on lives. We created South Africa's first bursary database for students, containing details, specifications and application procedures for over 6000 tertiary education bursaries. I think it's still live today, albeit on the unfortunately neglected gAL property (new owners, ages ago, don't ask). Anyway, THAT was impact. THAT changed lives. And all we really did was collect information together and tell a story.
Colette, Marc and myself are looking for those areas of impact in local entrepreneurship.
Last Saturday we held our launch event in Johannesburg - a collection of top notch speakers who outlined the landscape that South African entrepreneurs face today. The fact that 150 people rocked up in spite of having to miss a Currie Cup Final and the Kings of Leon concert, bodes well for the future of the movement.
The content was outstanding - I highly suggest you browse through the Storify Widget below (it uses infinite scrolling - so keep going down!) to get an idea of the important points of discussion. Thanks again to our sponsors (Microsoft BizSpark and Enablis). This doesn't happen without you.
Enjoy the content, and keep an eye on the site for further news and events about the angel / entrepreneur landscape in South Africa.