Taking place from 29-31 October 2014 at the UJ Soweto Campus, the conference will address those xenophobic tendencies that exist between local and foreign business owners, and explore the ways in which other countries have embraced foreign nationals, who contribute to economic development. The conference is a vital platform to share knowledge and best practice, with its primary objective to facilitate business development in local townships.
According to Ms Moipone Molotsi, the Director of the Centre for Small Business Development (CSBD), this year’s conference theme was driven by recommendations from the 2013 conference. “It’s become clear that we need to create a platform that will facilitate debate, as well as the exchange of skills and ideas,” says Molotsi. “This is a theme that requires our urgent attention and we believe that the 5TH Annual Conference provides the ideal environment to explore this topic,” she says.
Entrepreneurship and small business development have been identified as critical success factors for South Africa’s continued economic growth. However, for many years local business owners have perceived the existence of foreign-owned enterprises and big business as a growth infringement.
Ms Molotsi believes that South Africa could gain significantly by exploring how other countries have overcome these challenges. “We will explore and debate the possibility of partnerships between foreign and locally owned businesses; we’ll look at the ways in which government may be able to assist through legislative changes; how big businesses can co-exist with smaller enterprises; and ideally explore ways in which all of these businesses can co-exist in a way that stimulates economic development,” she says.
CSBD was established in 2006 under the auspices of the University’s Faculty of Management. Since 2010 the CSBD has hosted the Annual Soweto Conference as a vital platform to share knowledge and best practice. Its primary objective is to facilitate business development in local townships.
Hosting an average of 600 delegates each year, the Annual Soweto Conference provides a valuable platform for engagement, networking, and assists new and established small business owners by helping to foster an entrepreneurial culture. The conference has also welcomed many high profile speakers over the years, including a keynote address by President Jacob Zuma in 2012, and former Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane in 2013.
CSBD is recognised for supporting and nurturing future business leaders, its programmes reach out to small businesses and entrepreneurs in previously disadvantaged communities—such as Soweto, Alexandra, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Norweto, Ekurhuleni and Kagiso. It also offers business skills training, mentorships programmes, as well as conducts business plan competitions.
The first day of the conference will provide delegates with practical training in Business Idea Generation and Innovation, and Social Media Marketing. The following two days will include various local and international experts, who will share knowledge, best practice and case studies of success stories in other countries.
The event will welcome both local and international government representatives, as well as officials from national, provincial and local government departments that are responsible for small business development. Delegates will learn more about how to gain access to finance, and most importantly what qualities financial institutions look for in entrepreneurs who are looking to gain access to loans.
“Entrepreneurship plays a key role in economic development, however what we need is fresh ideas and more innovation,” says Molotsi. “The conference provides real support for small business leaders, helping them to identify opportunities and will hopefully challenge them to explore other opportunities, which they may never previously have considered,” she concluded.