South Africa will be the first African country to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in 2017, the Global Entrepreneurship Network announced on Tuesday.
“This is a great opportunity for South Africa and Africa as a continent to showcase its entrepreneurial prowess to the world,” Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu said.
The bid was awarded to Johannesburg as part of the opening ceremony at GEC 2015 in Milan, Italy.
The GEC is an inter-disciplinary gathering of start-up champions from more than 150 countries and attracts over 4 000 delegates.
These delegates represent distinct components of their entrepreneurial ecosystems and are focused on how best to help entrepreneurs start and scale new companies, the Department of Small Business Development said.
“The GEC is a platform that would open doors for our youth, ignite entrepreneurship and put our youth in the global arena,” Minister Zulu said.
She said the award would help sustain the momentum of an entrepreneurial revolution that was given impetus by President Jacob Zuma when he announced the establishment of the new Ministry of Small Business Development.
“GEC 2017 will ensure that small business development remains firmly on the national agenda and the radar screen of all stakeholders,” Minister Zulu said.
Member of the Mayoral Committee in the City of Johannesburg Ruby Mathang said the four-day conference will have significant economic benefits for the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors – approximately R45 million for Johannesburg alone.
“This is indeed an honour and also an opportunity to entrench the City of Johannesburg’s objective to encourage entrepreneurship in order to stimulate economic growth and create jobs,” she said.
The Congress has previously been held in the United States, UAE, China, UK, Brazil, Russia and Italy.
The successful bid was a product of a partnership between the city’s Convention Bureau and major bid partner, SEA Africa, which is a research and development company with a global reach.
SEA Africa supports businesses in various African markets and was also a key role player in the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week in South Africa.
Head of SEA Africa, Kizito Okechukwu, said the collective work done by the bid partners showed collaboration between the private and public sector.
“Collaboration is vital and we need to build sustainable ecosystems for entrepreneurial growth in Africa.
“We would do this in partnership with various global and local partners and we also invite all stakeholders in the entrepreneurial space within Africa to engage, support and participate in this process,” Okechukwu said.