We were out in Newtown Johannesburg at Soweto’s Finest Fitness Dance Studio – where J&B hosted the media, corporate thought-leaders and business innovators for a panel discussion to officially launch Global Entrepreneurship Week 2019.

What’s The Problem

South Africa is in a state of turmoil with the unemployment rate sitting at 29.1% in Q3 2019 – the highest it’s been in 11 years. The number of unemployed rose by 78,000 to 6.73 million while employment increased by 62,000.

 Statistics vary, but the reality is that for every success story there are several businesses that don’t make it through the first 2 years of existence. On average about 50% of all start-up businesses in South Africa fail within 24 months due to the inability to make a profit and inexperience. 

Who’s Taken Responsibility

We as the J&B Hive champion the message ‘Together For The Win’ because we understand the severity of the problems that entrepreneurs face and how imperative it is to support them.

With an impressive roster of SMEs under our care – we have marked ourselves as a force for change. Some of our businesses also have the potential to make a positive contribution to the fight against unemployment.

Why is it so important to support SME’s

Small businesses are the key drivers of economic growth and employment in South Africa. It is a domino effect that begins with SME’s receiving the assistance and guidance required to continue operating long enough to employ people.

Who was in attendance

The purpose of the day was to come together as a collective of entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and the media to actively support entrepreneurship. The creation of an environment that is conducive for the growth of small and medium enterprises.

 The panel was made up of creative thinkers and problem-solvers of the highest caliber, fearless individuals that are changing the face of entrepreneurship in South Africa

  • DJ Sbu, the OG of the panelists is an entertainer turned social entrepreneur and best-selling author who had some wisdom to share – urging young entrepreneurs not to give up because you can’t put a price on your emancipation.

 “I am honoured to be in the presence of game-changers and future millionaires… When I started getting paid to sell people’s products and brands on the radio, I understood that I have the power to be an entrepreneur and sell my own products and brands.” – DJ Sbu

  • Precious the Planner, founder of Precious Celebrations instilled hope in young entrepreneurs by sharing her story and how she used the negative remarks and lack of belief that her loved ones shared as fuel to keep her grind going.

 “Society supports women at face – to tick boxes and meet criteria. Behind closed doors, where it really counts, they listen to men more.” –  Precious Thamaga.

  • Sibusiso Ngwenya, founder of Skinny Sbu Socks feels he needs R5 million to invest in the growth of his business because he believes that the only way the global community can take you seriously is if your next-door neighbour takes you seriously.

 “Do what you’re good at and get someone to do all the boring stuff  [Legislative tasks and Accountancy], so you can be better at what you do.” – Sibusiso Ngwenya.

  • Lethabo Mokoena, the brains behind sneaker cleaning service – Walk Fresh – shared how everyone around him was celebrating his recent descent into the richest square mile in Africa and why it is important for entrepreneurs to remember why they went into business in the first place.

 “Yes, it’s exciting! Who wouldn’t want a storefront in the richest square mile in Africa?! But I had to sit my team down and reiterate why we’re doing this, regardless of the location they should maintain the work ethic we perfected eLokshini because the business is not aesthetic its dedication and work.” – Lethabo Mokoena

  • Sthembiso Mpehle, co-founder of Dipopaai Animation Studio took the time to remind us that entrepreneurs at some point in their business were faced with the choice of closing shop and sitting behind a desk as an employee.

“Don’t rush progress. Animation is intensive and it takes hours upon hours of work to make a 2-minute long video clip. And just like your business, you must invest hours upon hours of your time to get the results you want.” – Sthembiso Mpehle.

  • Mzuzukile Soni is founder of BrownSense Markets – an organization that gives black-owned businesses access to markets since 2016. He thinks that entrepreneurs have all the information they need to keep their businesses afloat. However, you get information when you look for it.

“We live in a digital age, and this means that information is a lot more accessible than it was before. However, you get information when you look for it.” – Mzuzukile Soni.

  • The media was in attendance as well: Yfm was in the building as DJ Sabby handled proceedings as an MC. Graduates and qualified professionals form a very big part of the unemployed population and this message was reiterated multiple times during the day.

 “The harrowing reality is that most of the unemployed are qualified in a particular field and instead of using the information that they gained from studying to start a business – they seek the security of an income.” – DJ Sabby.

  • Senior Brand Manager at Diageo Nana Akua Twerefoo took the stage to open proceedings. She represented all the corporates in the room and painted a vivid picture of what the economic landscape would look like if people bought local goods and if the government offered a helping hand.

“Entrepreneurs cannot do it on their own, businesses need customers to buy their products and services to survive and thrive. In the grander scheme, small businesses will, in turn, make the country economically stable. Take the pledge to support small and medium enterprises.” – Nana Akua Twerefoo

More Than Numbers

To conclude proceedings, everyone was led out of the venue to take the pledge to support SME’s this Global Entrepreneurship Week and every other day of the week. Outside they were greeted by an installation that brought to life a visual representation of the failure rate of small businesses in South Africa.

Once they had taken the pledge, their postcards were attached to placards to serve as a testament that everyone in attendance vows to play their part. 

It’s A Simple Equation

It’s not rocket science – if there are more businesses that make it past the 5-year mark, they will need to expand and in turn, there will be more jobs. Like a domino effect, if there are more people that earn a salary, there will be more money in circulation and in turn, the GDP will rise.

How Can You Play Your Part

Support small local businesses! It’s that simple, they don’t say local is lekker for nothing and playing your part will have a positive effect on a larger scale.

Take the pledge and stay hugging @hivejoburg to see businesses you can support. 

Written by: Sandile Dube ( from I am Multeemedia) // Images taken by: @harmonixent

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Sandile Dube is a Digital Copywriter based in Johannesburg South Africa. His storytelling marketeer career was sparked by a passion for poetry – to cope with the pressure of being a young black man eMzansi. He’s soft spoken and not as intimidating as he looks. The proof is in the poetry.

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