South Africa: From Rainbow Nation to Failed State

South Africa: From Rainbow Nation to Failed State
November 10, 2017 Antoinette
In blog

South Africa: From Rainbow Nation to Failed State

We are faced with a growth rate of 1.3 percent, continuous load shedding and a government who simply does not understand the importance of accountability. Are we rolling down the hill into the valley of failed states and if so what does this mean for entrepreneurs?

President Zuma laughed at South Africans as he inadvertently told us he would not be paying back the money for security upgrades at his multi-million rand Nkandla. Our Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko also pointed out that South Africans would be forking out more money to complete these ‘security’ features. It felt like a slap on the wrist with one of those big wooden spoons because naughty South Africans have violated our Honorable President’s privacy so now we will pay.

Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa came back from his trip to Indonesia and announced a new hybrid model for e-tolls. He clarified that a single reduced tariff will be applied to all motorists. As an example the standard tariff of 58 cents per kilometre for light motor vehicles will be reduced to 30 cents per kilometre – almost a 50% reduction. Let us not forget that for motorist in Gauteng e-toll fees will be linked to licence renewals so  motorists cannot get their car discs unless they’ve paid their e-toll bills. We enjoy being a world-class African city so now we will pay.

Eskom has requested a 25.3 percent tariff hike and 12 percent has already been approved. This while South Africans have to battle the inconvience of the load shedding plague. Moody’s downgraded South Africa in November to Baa2, the second-lowest investment-grade level and changed its outlook to stable from negative taking into account our power shortages. We want load shedding to stop so now we will pay.

Staying positive in difficulty

Let me tear a page out of Minister Nhleko’s book and use Wikipedia’s definition of a failed state: “Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.”

We have certainly fallen from our 1994 pedestal, the one painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Yes, we have taken an excruciating tumble but we have not made our way, all the way into the valley of failed state, just yet. I agree with tweets urging us to remain positive given that it is a minority in the ruling party inflicting this unbearable burden of unaccounatbility on ordinary citizens. Let the quintessential South African hope prevail.

I am all too familiar with the tumble from glory, as regular readers will know. I am interrogating the question of South Africa becoming a failed state because the actions taken by our ruling party reflects those immature moves I made early on in my entrepreneurial journey. I refused to admit that I was in trouble and that my business was failing. I attended meetings bearly being able to hold up my mask and my slip was showing to the more seasoned entrepreneurs around me. They saw right through the story I was selling and they pushed me to get real with myself, to recognize that my business slip was showing and to pull it up. It was a tough pill to swallow and I hated every second of getting to that place of accountability. There were many times where my fragile little ego got in the way, until I almost lost it all. I had to get real.

Entrepreneurs buckling under pressure

Countries where economies thrive are ones where governments create a conducive environment for business to thrive. As clearly illustrated by Nkandlagate, Eskom’s woes and Moody’s dismal rating of South Africa, we have a long way to go to get to conducive. A 1.3% growth rate clearly reflects just how far we are from reaching our economic promised land.

Stats SA reports that our unemployment rate has risen sharply in the first quarter of this year, with 26,4 percent of potentially economically active South Africans not working. South Africa has nearly 36-million employable people, but only 15,5-million are currently employed. Entrepreneur, I don’t know about you but this figure keeps me up at night. I am not naïve to believe that we are able to bring this figure down even just slightly when we are operating in a rather hostile economic environment.

We do not need the BBBEE codes to be revised for the umpteenth time, no. Our economic past must be rectified and we have been at it for over twenty years, if BBBEE is not the key to unlocking economic growth, get real and scrap with the necessary urgency.  Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu plans to overhaul the departments approach to funding. At a media briefing in May, the Minister said there was a lack of co-ordination between the different levels of the government, where the sources of funding were located, and this resulted in the money ending up in the wrong places. In simple terms this means a huge percentage of entrepreneurs are on their own until this is sorted out.

As the battle for our country, our economy rages on, I want to invite the ruling party to join us on the battlefield and stop battling us. Let us get real before we find ourselves in the valley of failed. It will take accountability from the ruling party, the courage to admit that we are in serious trouble. It will take bold entrepreneurs to get real with those in power and not at fancy breakfast set-up for adulation. It will take a determined force of entrepreneurs from big and small businesses to push our ruling party into reality and back up the hill to glory.

• She was honored as a Golden Key member at Wits University in Johannesburg, in 2010. Other recipients of this honor are Finance Minister, Trevor Manual and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, making it truly prestigious.
• She has been featured on SAFM, CNBC Africa, various local publications and the New Vision Newspaper in Uganda.
• She was a regular mentor on SABC 1s, Making Moves.
• She is passionate about the entrepreneurial space across the continent and shares her expertise by mentoring emerging entrepreneurs.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

It takes a village to grow a business and our Growth Through Collaboration methodology runs through our DNA. Since our launch in October 2016, we have solidified partnerships that will ensure we deliver a world-class programme to our women entrepreneurs. We are collaborating with Leanne Dlamini from End Girl Hate and here’s what she had to say:

The reality is that two out of three businesses fail each year because of a lack of knowledge and support. We are here to lower that percentage drastically. Combine this with a lack of effective accelerator programmes focused on women entrepreneurs in the market and we have an opportunity for a symbiotic relationship with potential funders and strategic partners that ensures accelerated growth for Emerging Women Entrepreneurs. There are various programmes focused on entrepreneurs but what sets the 88 Business Collective apart is that the programme offers Emerging Women Entrepreneurs continuous business development support over an 18-month period and a platform for accountability and a sounding board for making better business decisions. This is to ensure business growth by increasing revenue, improving access to markets and an increase in net jobs created as they expand their reach and product/service distribution.

We have secured the following organizations as strategic partners:
• ABSA, Western Cape, sponsored our launch and continues to be a strategic partner;
• PWC and Webber Wentzel provides professional services to our Collective over the 18-month period;
• Sanlam and Santam offer non-financial support;
• Wesgro and the Black Management forum are strategic partners in providing access to their women entrepreneurs’ networks

Accelerating World-Class African Businesses
The 88 Business Collective’s Accelerator Programme supports women entrepreneurs holistically by providing:
•  Quarterly Board of Advisory Meetings
•  Monthly on-site support by a Retired Business Executive
•  Regular workshops focussed on branding, finance, operations, using technology, marketing & sales
•  Digital support through an app developed for this purpose
•  Network support by encouraging the 88 entrepreneurs to support and buy from each other
•  An ecosystem for the women entrepreneurs to grow through collaboration.

What is it that you are passionate about?

Actively contributing to unleashing the true potential of this beautiful continent we call home.

What is your personal motto?

Get It Done!

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

• Make sure your dream is not based on someone else’s. Pursue yours and you will know it is yours when it moves your soul.
• Surround yourself with people who know far more than you and listen to their how. • Plan, plan, plan and plan some more.
• Perfection is a myth, pursue excellence.
• Your business is not your baby.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Firstly, my mom for being a positive motivating force in my life. Secondly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her powerful ability to paint beautiful scenes of our continent and her beloved Nigeria. Lastly, Khanyi Dhlomo for graciously building Ndalo Media.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take it easy, there is no need to rush towards your dreams. Be extremely gentle with yourself baby girl, prioritize self-care.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

You’ve Got This!

Your favourite quote:

”Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

Which book are you reading now?

The Pace Setter by Tim Tucker.

Which book can you read over and over again?

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What are your top 3 business tips?

1. It takes a village to grow a business, find yours.
2. Get comfortable with your numbers, passion is great but your numbers will keep you in the game.
3. South Africa’s population is only a mere 55million people, the continent over a billion, think continentally.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I found what moves my soul at the age of 26 but what kept me rolling from one failure after the other was remembering what moves my soul and staying focused on my why.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Make sure you have a life plan.

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