he Global Entrepreneurship Network announced today that South Africa has earned the right to host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in 2017. The bid was awarded to Johannesburg as part of the opening ceremony at GEC 2015 in Milan, Italy.
Accepting the award on behalf of Johannesburg South Africa, Lindiwe Zulu, South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development said, “I am confident that this award will 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” said Minister Zulu.
The Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) is an inter-disciplinary gathering of start-up champions from more than 150 countries and attracts over 4000 delegates. These delegates represent distinct components of their entrepreneurial ecosystems and are focused on how best to help entrepreneurs start and scale new companies.
“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, while also emphasising Joburg’s credentials as a leading business events destination, capable of hosting such important global meetings,” says Ruby Mathang, City of Johannesburg’s MMC for Economic Development. A large four-day conference like this, which is expected to attract some 4000 international delegates has significant economic benefits for the tourism, leisure and hospitality sectors – approximately R45 million for Johannesburg alone.”
The Congress has previously been held in the United States, UAE, China, UK, Brazil, Russia and Italy. South Africa is now proud to be the first African country to host the event.
“The Global Entrepreneurship Network continues to expand its involvement in Africa in support of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs there to rebrand the continent and permanently shift perceptions,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “Johannesburg will provide an important backdrop for startup champions everywhere to come together in building one global entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
At the GEC in Milan, Minister Lindiwe Zulu praised the efforts of all bid partners, which were instrumental as a team to ensure that the bid came to South Africa.
“This is a great opportunity for South Africa and Africa as a continent to showcase its entrepreneurial prowess to the world. The GEC is a platform that would open doors for our youth, ignite entrepreneurship and put our youth in the global arena” emphasised the Minister.
The successful bid has come about as a result of a partnership between the City’s Convention Bureau and major bid partner, SEA Africa, a research and development company with a global reach. SEA Africa supports businesses in various African markets and is also a key role player in the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week in South Africa.
Speaking in Milan was the Executive Head of SEA Africa, Kizito Okechukwu, who managed and led the bid, joined the Minister in lauding the collective work done by the bid partners.
“This really shows collaboration between the private and public sector. Collaboration is vital and we need to build sustainable ecosystems for entrepreneurial growth in Africa. The work starts right now because we need to build up to 2017. 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 thanked the Minister for working tirelessly in support of the bid, the Mayor of Johannesburg, represented by Cllr Ruby Mathang the MMC for Economic Development, Ravi Naidoo the Executive Head of Economic Development, and Happy Ralinala, the Head of Absa Business Banking at Barclays Africa, who with her team, made this possible.
The GEC pulls together a broad collection of voices from across the entrepreneurial spectrum.