CONGRESS, Global Entrepreneurship Congress, March 13-16, 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Network

Every year, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 160 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. At the weeklong GEC, delegates make connections, gain insights, learn about new research, and leave ready to renew their programs, policy ideas or firm founder skills.

GEC 2017 will take place in the heartbeat of South Africa, in Johannesburg — a budding startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of the country — which promises to build on the successes of previous years.

More than 160 countries are represented at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Colombia, and with South Africa hosting the GEC in 2017 for the very first time on the African continent, it is signaling to the global investment community that South Africa is open for business and ready to lead the entrepreneurial revolution on the African continent.

Left to Right:   Kizito Okechukwu (SEA Africa’s Executive Head), Ambassador SHOPE-LINNEY (South Africa’s Ambassador to Venezuela), MMC Ruby Mathong (City of Johannesburg) and Jonathan Ortmans (President – GEN).

The annual Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC 2016) kicked-off in Medellin, Colombia on 14 March 2017. The GEC is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, innovators and government ministers from around the world. The congress brings together more than 6500 delegates from 160 countries. The theme for this year’s congress was ‘The Business of Next’, and the theme speaks to improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem towards adapting to changes in the business environment, innovative solutions and investments.

Ambassador to Venezuela, Her Excellency Ambassador Thaninga Shope-Linney, who is representing Minister Lindiwe Zulu, as well as the Member of Mayoral Committee: Department of Economic Development Councillor Ruby Mathang from the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) received the GEC torch and flag from Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

MMC Mathang articulated that “The globalisation of entrepreneurship has brought an explosion of programs, startup communities and investment opportunities into a new field. We are here in Colombia, as South Africa, to inform the global entrepreneurship network that Johannesburg is here to collaborate and share world class best practices.”

The GEC will grace the African continent for the first time at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from the 13-17 March 2017.

The business sector, education and government leaders have been eager champions, but they need more sophisticated tools, programs and research to help them direct their attention and funds to areas with the greatest impact on future economic growth and trends. The GEC helps address these needs by identifying effective initiatives – in all types of economies, across the macro or micro level; advanced or emerging – that positively impact entrepreneurial eco-systems around the world.

Speaking during the transition ceremony, Ortmans, said: “GEC 2017 is just one example of the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s commitment to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs start and scale - rebranding the continent and permanently shifting perceptions around the world. We look forward to coming to South Africa.”
The successful GEC bid has been a collaborative partnership between SEA Africa, the Department of Small Business Development, City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, ABSA and Transnet. The South African delegation in Colombia have hosted 50 key global stakeholders in Medellin to present the roadmap to the GEC 2017 South Africa.

South Africa’s Minister for Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, speaking from Pretoria stated that“Participating in global community strengthens the SME sector through understanding how different entrepreneurial ecosystems operate, learn best practices and how tools may be used to improve domestic markets. Given the constraints faced by the South African economy a significant boost in SME sector is required to address the current low growth projections and high unemployment especially amongst the youth. The GEC will provide insight on best practices, which we will localise, for the South African market. I am further encouraged that South Africa’s delegation will also use the opportunity to spark networks and create strategic conversations with global investors in preparation for Africa’s GEC in 2017.”

The Local Organising Committee will lead efforts to engage other entrepreneurial organisations across the continent including the different provinces in South Africa to establish avenues for collaboration.
The Executive Head of SEA Africa Kizito Okechukwu added that: “The GEC will help sustain the momentum of the entrepreneurial revolution currently underway globally and is accelerating in South Africa and the rest of the African continent. Together, with our partners, we emphasise the importance of private-public sector involvement and civil society for social investments, skills transfer, access to markets and collaboration with smaller businesses to achieve the expected economic development impact that is desired by all Africans.

A range of programmes and activities will be held leading up to GEC 2017. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to explore the opportunities within the various platforms.

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