Dr Iqbal Survé is the chairperson of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings. File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
Dr Iqbal Survé is the chairperson of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings. File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Helping to kick-start SA’s economy

By Dr Iqbal Survé Time of article published Aug 11, 2020

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It has been a couple of weeks since I have written, not for lack of anything to say, but rather because there is too much - not all of it would make for polite reading, though.

It seems rather obvious to state that people are poor and desperate. But they are, and in the short term it is probably only going to get worse.

The economy is in bad shape and no amount of foreign aid, or government lip service to the people, is going to bail us out. We have sunk too far. Yet, having said that, all is not quite lost, because as the old saying goes, when the "going gets tough, the tough get going".

South Africans are inherently resourceful people, and right now we need to dig deep and come up with the plan - by ourselves and for our families and communities. We cannot afford to rely on others to do it for us, nor should we.

For too long we have put our destiny into the hands of others, many of whom do not have our best interests at heart, only their own.

Back to basics

I can hear many of you asking, well how do you start a business when you have absolutely nothing to begin with?

Most self-help gurus will ask you to buy the book or subscribe to their channel and they will give you access to the tools that will help you.

But that might not work if there is no money to purchase the items in the first place or it comes to the choice of physically putting food on the table or not. Second, the majority of these motivational handbooks are geared towards more developed economies, and while the principles of business might be the same in a developing economy, the practicalities are worlds apart. If you have a business idea, but no clue as to how it will be funded, start with asking family and friends to buy into the concept.

Before you get started though, it’s important to establish that there is a current market for your idea or a reasonable hope of one in the not-too-distant future, before you get too far down the road.

If, like many, your family and friends don't have two cents to rub together, then consider approaching the wider community and setting up a co-operation (co-op) agreement. This could even be bartering skills for shares in the new business venture.

You might even find several workable ideas that can be developed concurrently.

Going beyond your local community, also consider crowd-sourcing - using the internet to reach a much wider and more diverse audience for ideas and/or an exchange of goods and services - to kickstart a project that can generate income.

The point is that clubbing together to share in the ideas and the hard work means that everyone who contributed will benefit. If it becomes a shared responsibility to ensure success, then the outcomes are much better and more likely. This is all part of the communal economy, which is as ancient as time.

While these days, generally associated with the sharing of assets via the digital ecosystem, the shared economy is actually all about making the most of things that are not being used to their full potential and deriving a benefit from them.

It could be argued that in today's context, the shared economy should be about using and creating assets for the benefit of the whole - with more people able to contribute, more can be done, and more can be generated - for the greater good.

Crowd funding is also gaining more popularity, but cold be trickier to attract based on a zero-track record and no experience. Still, for those who are not risk averse, investing in unknown entities can pay big long-term dividends.

Where there's a will, there is a way

Whether pre or post-apartheid, we have all been accustomed to others setting the rules and making decisions for us.

To some extent, we have even succumbed to the notion that we can't do the things we dream about, because there are just too many barriers to entry.

We have in essence been disenfranchised from our own lives, despite the constant calls for more "entrepreneurs" to enter the workforce.

I’d like to emphasise that this state of self-disbelief is so not true. We are all more capable than we have been told or think, even if our initial business ideas don't work out at first.

If you speak to any successful business creator, they will often confirm it took several attempts to get it right.

Think of Thomas Edison, who is credited with saying something along the lines of how it had taken him 10000 ways not to create the light bulb before actually creating it.

It is, therefore, okay to be prepared to fail - if you are prepared to learn from your mistakes.

It is also important to understand that you will never know it all and to appreciate that you are in for a lifetime of learning. If you stop learning, that's it. You. Just. Stop.

Great leaders tend to surround themselves with even better people, which then make their businesses successful and sustainable. Therefore, in your community and if you are collaborating on a project, be human and have the courage to be real.

That means parking the fear of being shown up by someone who has better skills or ideas than you. It also includes having compassion for your fellow humans. In the day-to-day maul for survival, we have lost touch with our naturally empathetic selves, it’s time to reclaim that - no matter what your current circumstances are.

Build your business on strong relationships, with purpose and the right intent.

It is difficult when the cup is completely dry to see life as half full instead of half empty, full of potential not a dead end. I appreciate that. I have had no desire, in sharing this piece with you, to either pontificate on or ignore the real issues facing many people in our country today.

Instead, I have been motivated by a true desire to try and assist as many as possible to take charge of their own destiny and realise that they can, in fact, do it.

To further assist in kick-starting South Africa's economy, Sekunjalo will shortly be launching a dedicated channel aimed at providing as much detailed and practical knowledge and information as possible, that is relevant to the South African operating environment, in order to help entrepreneurs move forward with their businesses and ideas.

The channel will be free to subscribe to.

* Dr Iqbal Survé is the chairperson of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings.

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