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South Africa: gaining traction with start-ups

The Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report for 2021 was released recently and this is what it had to say about Africa as a region and some of the most prosperous ecosystems in Africa. In the report, it was noted that start-ups are a rapid and resilient job growth engine and there is a 10% growth year on year worldwide for start-up jobs. One way tech ecosystems are measured is by the number of unicorns (start-ups that have reached a billion-dollar valuation) they produce. Though this may hint at the rarity of such businesses, they are becoming more common. With the increasing international investing strategies, more and more businesses can be founded, funded and scaled worldwide which makes it crucial for locals to support their individual start-up ecosystems. Your business could be the next unicorn.

In the endeavour to grow a healthy ecosystem for start-ups, there needs to be a recycling of an entrepreneur’s time, effort and venture capital money through the ecosystem. Young ecosystems like Durban and to some extent, Cape Town and Johannesburg,  are still creating a healthy base of knowledge and capital for start-ups. Successful entrepreneurs should consider how they can mentor young businesses and help them to grow into the powerhouses of the future. This will ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem for current and future start-ups.

Further in the report, they say that African ecosystems are worth 6.6 billion collectively. Most of which is concentrated in the top five ecosystems: Cape Town, Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Accra.  South Africa has two cities in the top performers rating and one in the top regional challenger which reflects positively on the growing start-up ecosystems in this country.

Cape Town is home to about 60% of South Africa’s start-ups and has one of the largest open-access fibre networks in Africa. Their strength lies in the fintech and edutech fields and these are set to continue to grow. The start-up community is supported by the City of Cape Town, Wesgro and Silicone Cape. 

Johannesburg handles 30% of the country’s exports and generates 15% of its wealth. With this strong backdrop, the city is rich with possibilities for entrepreneurs. There are many start-up support programmes and funding opportunities. One of the highlights on the digital innovator’s calendar is the Fak’ugesi Festival. This annual festival celebrates, showcases and develops skills in technology, art and culture in Africa. Another opportunity for Johannesburg-based entrepreneurs is the City of Johannesburg’s opportunity centres. These centres help entrepreneurs to fine-tune their ideas and work towards creating a sustainable business.

As we can see South Africa is a melting pot of opportunity for entrepreneurs who seek to follow their dreams of creating a powerhouse business based on their strengths and skills. Go out and build your dream.

You can download the Startup Genome report here.

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