As the events of 2020 catapulted the rise of the digital workforce in South Africa and abroad, the reality that the world is quickly entering 4th industrial revolution (4IR) became clearer. Defined as “the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology”, the 4IR is positioned to radically shift the way people live and work, and the way businesses and economies are run.
In South Africa specifically, government’s final report and recommendations on the 4IR were gazetted and released to the public in October last year, laying out a formal plan for the country’s move toward becoming more entrenched in the digital world. African retail giant, Game – who are on their own path to becoming future-ready through their turnaround strategy – found that 67% of their customers are looking to start their own businesses in 2021. To provide support for South Africans looking to start a side hustle, Game partnered with award winning entrepreneur, Luvuyo Rani, to talk about what it means to be an entrepreneur in 2020 – as the world of business continues to shift at an unprecedented pace.
“COVID-19 has undoubtedly highlighted the importance of entrepreneurs for South Africa’s economic wellbeing – as the battle for employment becomes fiercer than ever and the rise of the 4IR threatens to completely change the employment landscape,” he says. “More and more, I see businesses investing into smart technology like AI, apps and big data, as they look to cut costs and become more productive.” Unfortunately, Rani notes that many of these solutions are coming from international players. However, he highlights that this could be seen as an important opportunity for local entrepreneurs.
“Hopeful entrepreneurs should be focusing on local issues and problems, or gaps in the market, and exploiting their local knowledge and perspectives to come up with effective solutions,” he says. He gives examples of the taxi industry, delivery services to rural areas or repairs and maintenance to new technologies as some of the areas that could use new, innovative solutions.
“By taking advantage of their local knowledge and perspectives, South African entrepreneurs can drive the country toward the 4IR faster, while creating local investment opportunities and economic development,” he says, noting that this could also assist with creating future-ready employment opportunities to combat those currently being lost to technological solutions.
Rani reminds hopeful entrepreneurs to ensure they are building business models and strategies that are agile and adaptable – in order to remain relevant as consumers and businesses evolve along with the 4IR. Rani’s own business, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, began as a side hustle, selling refurbished computers from his car – and has now evolved to become a well-recognised South African business centre (including a training academy and career centre) with a national footprint of 46 stores and 25 franchise spread across three provinces.
Game Vice President of Marketing, Katherine Madley, points to the important role large businesses have to play in driving the success of local entrepreneurs and SMEs. “Corporations should be looking to work alongside and invest in local entrepreneurs, not only to provide support for them but also in forming important collaborations that will push their own organisations toward being equipped for the 4IR.” She uses the example of Massmart’s Supplier Development Program, which looks to assist South African small, micro and medium-sized business, who are either existing or potential suppliers to Massmart with enhancing the quality of their products, meeting regulatory standards, improving their production capacity and price competitiveness and developing their retail and business management expertise. Preference is given to black-owned and women-owned business, but it’s not exclusive.
“The rise of the 4IR is happening now, and this is the time for hopeful entrepreneurs to take the leap, follow their passions and contribute to building the society of tomorrow,” concludes Rani.
This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Game Stores.