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South Africa's President Jacob Zuma looks on during the swearing in of his new cabinet at the presidential guest house in Pretoria, May 11, 2009. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma looks on during the swearing in of his new cabinet at the presidential guest house in Pretoria, May 11, 2009. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

Small Business Briefing

South African show teaches business skills Add to ...

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New show offers money, and education

President Jacob Zuma and the government of South Africa have promised to generate five million new jobs by 2020, but government positions have dominated efforts so far. A new show called Big Break Legacy aims to shift that focus, Global Post reports.

The program pits 12 entrepreneurs against each other for a chance to win 5 million rand ($615,000), but it’s also designed to teach the audience how to start a business and, according to the creators,“contribute towards the strengthening and growth of South Africa’s economy.”

As governments worldwide look to entrepreneurship to help boost their flagging fortunes, Mr. Zuma appears to be swimming against the tide. “A lot of South Africans think the government is there to provide jobs for them,” Mike Herrington, director of the University of Cape Town’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, told Global Post. “That’s wrong. The government is there to provide an environment for (small and medium-sized business) growth.”

Nearly half of all jobs in South Africa are created by small businesses, he added.

Despite that encouraging statistic, Dumisani Mpafa, a founder of SMME Business Solutions and board member of the Black Management Forum, said South Africa’s entrepreneurial culture was ruined by apartheid and needs a reboot. And the government must assert its commitment. The country shares some of the same hurdles endemic to others: a lot of red tape and barriers to effective financing. In addition, the story points out, nepotism plagues organizations dedicated to assisting small businesses, and South Africa lacks quality public education.

A TV show is clearly not the only answer, but it’s a start.

Facebook updates company pages

Facebook is putting a renewed emphasis on small business, Suzanna Vara writes on the Kherize Five website. The social-media behemoth has made changes to its company pages by creating administrative levels that allow entrepreneurs to be more organized and to post more frequently, in order to increase potential visibility and interaction. Five “administrator roles” are now in place: a ‘manager’ can fully control a company page; ‘content creator’ can manage everything but administrative roles; ‘moderator’ can send and respond to messages, and delete comments; ‘advertiser’ can create ads; and ‘insights analyst’ can simply review and analyze data. Ms. Vara also outlines how a small business can automate Facebook posts through a time-saving scheduling function.

Test your entrepreneurial aptitude

Are you an entrepreneur? It’s the question posed by Forbes, in a post promoting a questionnaire from Kauffman FastTrac, “to see where your traits lie within an entrepreneurial mindset.” If you don’t have the characteristics presented by the survey, Kauffman points out, you might want to think about how to acquire them. FastTrac was set up “to help aspiring and established entrepreneurs start and grow companies.”

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Are you innovative enough for the UK?

UK Trade and Investment Canada is on the hunt for Canada’s “most promising innovative technology companies.” Outline why your company is ready for a global adventure, and you could win an all-expenses-paid trip to London for three days, get advice and mentoring, network with investors and heads of companies, and hang out at incubator Tech City. Email entries to Canada.UKTI@fco.gov.uk or tweet them at @UKTI_Canada. The competition closes June 29.

The big decision is yours to make

The producers of CBC's Dragons' Den are looking for Canadian companies for the second season of their other business reality show The BIG Decision, featuring investors who offer to spend their time and money to help turn around struggling firms. To qualify, an operation must have been in business for three or more years, have gross revenue of at least $500,000, have more than five employees, be willing to commit to being filmed for up two weeks, and be fluent in English. Check out the show’s website for more information on how to qualify and apply.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Divorce messes up businesses as well as families

“Eighty per cent of small businesses in Canada don’t have any partnership agreement and even those that do almost never cover divorce of the partners,” says Wendy Olson-Brodeur, founder of The Financial Divorce Specialist Inc., based in Calgary. “I’ve found people think divorce can never happen to them. But it can.” According to Statistics Canada, more than 40 per cent of marriages end up in divorce. “Whenever I meet a small-business owner my first question is: ‘have you thought of this, because after a divorce it’s always too little and too late.’”

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Opportunities for Canadians in Africa

Canadian companies are responding to Africa’s economic growth story. Traditionally a magnet for Canadian mining companies eager to extract its minerals, Africa today beckons many smaller businesses that see opportunities to sell a variety of goods and services into its markets. “Africa is now growing at a rate of 5.5 per cent to 6 per cent annually, versus 1 per cent for the rest of the world,” Lucien Bradet, president of the Canadian Council on Africa, a group that promotes Canadian economic relations with Africa, says in this story from March, 2012. “Africa is looking to diversify its supplier base. Are Canadians going to be part of the last frontier needing development?”

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