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Hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Conference (GEC) in Johannesburg in 2017 will help sustain the momentum of an entrepreneurial revolution that President Jacob Zuma set in motion last year when he announced the establishment of a separate department that would focus specifically on small businesses and cooperatives.
This was said by Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu at a media conference to launch the global event at the Sandton Convention Centre earlier today (Tuesday, July 28).

South Africa was awarded the right to host the global entrepreneurship showpiece in Johannesburg in two years’ time at this year’s conference in Milan, Italy. This makes it the first African city to host the four-day conference since the GEC’s inception in 2009. The conference has previously been held in the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia and Italy. Columbia will host next year’s event.

The conference in Johannesburg will be held from 13-16 March 2017 and will be attended by more than 5 000 delegates from 160 countries, making it one of the ultimate platforms for budding business people and cementing an opportunity to strengthen current entrepreneurial ecosystems; enhance an entrepreneurial culture among the youth, women and people with disabilities; and create jobs.

The local tourism, leisure and hospitality industry is expected to benefit to the tune of R50 million during the four days of the gathering. The City will co-host the congress with Barclays Africa and SEA Africa.

Minister Zulu said hosting the GEC would provide opportunities and benefits for the entire country. These opportunities and benefits, she said, would include interaction and collaboration with other local and global investors and buyers; bilateral engagement with ministers, government and private company representatives and delegates from various countries; exposure to potential partners and mentors for entrepreneurs; and the identification of global opportunities for entrepreneurs and hubs.

“I am confident that GEC 2017 will further thrust entrepreneurship and small business development firmly on the national agenda and the collective consciousness of our nation,” said Minister Zulu.

Speaking at the same media conference, the City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development, Councillor Ruby Mathang, said hosting the GEC in 2017 would not only give South Africa the opportunity to showcase its entrepreneurial capacity to the world but it would also demonstrate, once again, why Johannesburg was the preferred host city of world congresses and business conferences.

“Entrepreneurs will get an invaluable opportunity to learn from the experiences of successful local and international innovators and also be able to create opportunities for partnerships, mentorships and the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Johannesburg has world-class infrastructure to support hosting a world congress and its guests.

“As a vibrant economic, social and entrepreneurship hub, Johannesburg plays a major role in the African entrepreneurship network that has significant benefits for the rest of Africa,” said MMC Mathang.

Executive Head of SEA Africa, Kizito Okechukwu said: “This congress will assist businesses and promote entrepreneurship across the African continent. We are therefore calling on entrepreneurs to leverage from various support structures and programmes being introduced by various partners.”