Cape Town aims to be hub for entrepreneurs

2010-10-07 15:02

The City of Cape Town has partnered with the Spanish city of Barcelona to develop a long-term strategy to increase the number of entrepreneurs.

Cape Town’s economic director Mansoor Mohamed said today that the aim was to set up an “entrepreneurship ecosystem” in the city to make life easier for those starting small businesses.

“Everyone in Africa who has a business idea and needs access to entrepreneurship and innovation will know they can come to Cape Town because we will have the best developed entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Mohamed said.

“The City of Cape Town’s vision is to set up an entrepreneurship ecosystem based on similar principles to those employed so successfully by the city of Barcelona.

“We want people to recognise the talent base sitting in Cape Town. We would like to see businesses establishing themselves here and making productive use of our youth who have lots of capability but are struggling to find employment.”

The Barcelona programme, known as Activa, was launched in 1986 as a way of reducing unemployment in the city.

“The view when Activa was created was that if people were self employed they would not only have jobs but create jobs,” Activa’s chief executive Anna Molero said in Cape Town.

“It worked. The businesses that come through Activa have a 70% success rate and today Barcelona is one of the entrepreneurial capitals of the world.”

Since its establishment, Activa has coached 11 893 business projects and created 11 000 new jobs.

In the past years it has coached Bogota, Buenos Aires, Santiago and cities throughout Brazil to start similar entrepreneur projects.

Molero said Cape Town, which was rich in design and innovation skills and which already had a number of such business training centres, had enormous entrepreneurial potential.

The city’s strong spirit of entrepreneurship was especially evident in townships, she said.

“In townships you see people using shipping containers as shops and making biscuits and repairing shoes.

There is enormous potential to develop those entrepreneurs.”

The problem with the city was that its entrepreneurial services were haphazard and poorly co-ordinated.

“An entrepreneur needs a simple way to access tools and services to be successful. That’s where Cape Town has work to do.

“If an entrepreneur knows where they can go at each stage of the development of their business, they will save a lot of time and money.

“If they are starting they might need to know where to get licences or access to capital. Activa directs individuals to what they need and provides them with tools. It makes it far easier for an entrepreneur to start a successful business,” he said.

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