Roberto CoelhoBy Roberto Coelho|July 19, 2022|5 Minutes|In Opinion


But would Mandela agree?

Mandela Day is a day of reflection, a day of giving and a day of hope.

Thousands of South Africans come together to give back to their communities on the 18th of July to celebrate the life and sacrifice of a true South African legend.

However, there is little emphasis placed on the local businesses doing amazing things in South Africa. The business section of the newspaper still reads of the same over-exaggerated ‘greed ’and ‘gluttony’.

Proudly South African businesses deserve their day in the sun. If entrepreneurs did not take a chance on the South African economy, thousands more would be unemployed, and countless more communities would be on the brink.

Unfortunately, not all types of businesses can be celebrated in this short article. With the assistance of Toby Shapshak, the proudly South African editor and publisher at Stuff South Africa, successful tech South African businesses are celebrated.

Let’s set the scene, it is a Monday afternoon, around 5 pm, during peak hour traffic. Getting home is going to take longer than expected due to non-operational traffic lights courtesy of load shedding.

With a rising heart rate due to the 20-minute traffic jam before a single T junction, blood pressure rises to an unhealthy level as a billboard for the local politician comes into view.

Arriving home provides no rest bite as there is no electricity to cook or to rewind.

For most the anger from the above story drives all future decisions, however for a select few individuals, this chaos brings opportunity.

“What makes really good companies is they fulfill a gap in the market. If there is something people need, they come along and make it possible.”

The perfect example of this is Yoco, which has created a system for small businesses to have easy access to point-of-sale payment devices.

“They are a local company with an understanding of the issues and pain points facing small businesses.”

Using this knowledge, they were able to fulfill a gap in the market. There are several other successful South African tech businesses such as SweepSouth, Parcel Ninja, and Moya App to name a few.

“There are lots of very good local success stories.”

But spotting the gap is not enough, an idea is not sufficient to fulfill the consumer’s needs, and execution is the most important aspect.

“How does a company become successful? They really need to have a great product offering.”

The primary building block for any successful business is a sturdy and reliable product offering.

But these companies providing amazing products also attract extreme competition from larger businesses.

“Smaller businesses are nimble; they can move quicker than bigger businesses.”

Using their size to their advantage many South African tech start-ups are able to innovate quickly to continue growing as competition races to catch up.

Beating the competition, with a desire for higher profits, results in private sector businesses incorrectly being labelled as evil!

I like to think if Mandela were still with us, he would be encouraging these start-ups. It may seem the entire purpose of starting a business is to earn a profit and to an extent this is true. Profit is a motivation for shareholders to invest.

Nevertheless, the question to ask is not; how much profit was earned but rather what social benefits came because of that profit?

A new start-up that grows into a mature business allows for employment, employee training, the requirement of new infrastructure, and third-party services, each a benefit to society.

For example, if a person is employed, that person can use his or her salary to buy products within the community. This new demand encourages further investment, improving society for all.

These social benefits which arise because of the desire to provide a service, sell a good, or make a profit, lead to a better South Africa.

When reflecting on both the positive and negative aspects of South Africa, hope for a better future is generated from the entrepreneurs who believe in and work towards, Mandela’s vision, every day!


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