Speech by Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies during a media briefing on International Small Business Congress (ISBC)
3 Sep 2012
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen present here and in Pretoria. Thank you for taking time off your busy schedules to attend this briefing.
Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence of our partners and key stakeholders starting with Congress Organiser Mr Septi Bukula, Seda CEO Ms Hlonela Lupuwana, the newly-established Small Enterprise Finance Agency, National African Federated Chamber of Commerce, Black Business Council (names to be confirmed), all of whom will be playing a crucial role in the forthcoming International Small Business Congress to be held in Johannesburg from 15 to 18 September 2012.
I’m privileged and pleased to announce that for the first time in its history, spanning almost four decades, the annual International Small Business Congress will take place on the African soil.
The 37th edition of this important gathering, which is popular among entrepreneurs and small business role players around the globe, will be hosted by South Africa. More than 1 000 delegates are expected to decent to our shores for the congress, and the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg will be a hive of activity from 15 to 18 September 2012 as debates and discussions on the future and role of SMEs in the global economy take up centre stage and heighten up.
The congress will be hosted in collaboration with the City of Johannesburg, Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (FABCOS), Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Private sector companies that have the development and growth of SMEs in South Africa as part of their focus areas have also come on board and provided sponsorships to ensure that the Congress was a roaring success. These are MTN Business. ABSA Bank and Shanduka Black Umbrellas, The congress provides for a platform to benchmark and draw lessons from both the developed and developing countries with a view of sharpening policy development and high impact programmes in the South African SMME sector.
Other than the President of ISBC, Ms Catherine Swift herself, there are other speakers from South Africa, Canada, England, Nigeria, Malaysia, Northern Ireland, Cameroon, Japan, France, Mauritius, Sierra Leone and India, to mention a few, who have confirmed their participation in the Congress where they will share their knowledge and expertise with other SME practitioners.
South Africa’s approach to the Congress has been characterised by a public-private partnership in which government and the industry key players have decided to collaborate maximally in order to ensure that hosting the Congress is beneficial to all the stakeholders and bear fruits that will add impetus to the growth of the SME sector in the country.
The ISBC has been held annually since the first conference in Hawaii in 1974. The basic objectives of the congress are to assemble representatives from business, governments, the academic communities, financial institutions, and trade associations for the purpose of exchanging views about small, medium and micro enterprise policies and programmes, providing possible solutions to the challenges and provide business and market opportunities among participating SMMEs. Further, the objectives are to develop communication linkages and networks to continue meaningful contacts and relationships, resulting in mutual assistance among the various countries.
The theme of this year’s congress will be “Fostering small business in new and high-potential industries worldwide “. This theme is of particular importance to South Africa especially as we widen the market for South African goods and services through stronger focus on exports to the region and other economic groupings such as BRICS. The theme is also important as we advocate for a diversified economy and we venture into activities geared towards greening the economy. Based on the latter, there are new opportunities for new enterprises and this congress will provide for a learning platform in these areas.
Some of the issues that will be tackled at the Congress are:
- Fostering small business in new and high-potential industries
- Africa, the next economic frontier
- Stabilising the fragile global economy – role of entrepreneurship and small business
- Competitiveness and growth through sustainability
- Fostering cooperatives and community-based enterprises as instruments for community economic upliftment
- Procurement and supplier diversity and development initiatives targeted at SMEs.
Since the first Congress in 1974, the ISBC has hosted thirty-six annual congresses in different parts of the world, enabling entrepreneurship and small business promoters to gain exposure to different contexts, thereby enriching their own practice in their home countries.
As I mentioned earlier, this will be the first time ever that the congress is held in Africa, and the organisers are hoping that practitioners in Africa will take advantage of this opportunity to increase their voice and influence in this global network.
Each congress brings a strong host country flavour while at the same time showcasing leading practices from around the world. Participants leave each congress with a great deal of information on the state of entrepreneurship and small business promotion worldwide. We want to take advantage of this and tab into some rich experiences to propel our work on enterprise development forward.
The 2012 Congress will put the spotlight on small business development in South Africa and will celebrate past successes and chart new ways for the future, with a particular focus on promoting small business in emerging industries.
The congress will be held alongside a dedicated exhibition showcasing various small business development initiatives in South Africa and small business goods and services that are ready to be offered across the globe.
Issued by: Department of Trade and Industry
3 Sep 2012
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