A real space for entrepreneurs in South Africa

Author: Jess Green

What really bothers the entrepreneurial arena in South Africa, and many other developing countries, is the lack of “activation” possibility. Many of us have fantastic ideas, but no means with which to “activate” them: even something as mundane as selling dog food online (which could be a great idea) is difficult to get off the ground. One could argue that a real entrepreneur should be able risk it all and bootstrap till blue in the face, but in reality that isn’t how it works. For example, to get skills on board in South Africa is both costly and difficult: they are hard to find and mostly unwilling to work for equity. Just ask me how long I’ve looked for a Blackberry app developer willing to work for a share.

But now we have The Hub. A global setup, The Hub is now also based in Johannesburg and is holding a large entrepreneurial event this month (23-25 March 2012), featuring digital brains such as Stafford Masie, Walter Pike, Simon Dingle and many more, and endorsed by the likes of Dave Duarte. If name-dropping isn’t your thing, the facts: The Hub is offering entrepreneurs an awesome space to work, like-minded networks and access to funding, all in one building. Although digital and tech are focus points, most if not any entrepreneurial business will fit into The Hub’s funky offices, and accommodation is available as well. The Hub is all about turning ideas into profits by combining technical and creative minds.

Back to The Hub’s event. They’ve launched Culture Shift, a program in collaboration with the British Council – it’s a three day event on what can happen when creatives and techies collaborate for innovation. Apart from the above speakers, Anne Shongwe (founder and CEO of Afroes Transformational Multi-Media & Consulting) and Stephen Rockman – founder of impact investment company Merism Capital and numerous experts on tech, social media, innovation law, accounting, branding and so on, will take the stage.

“If you want a taste of what’s possible for tomorrow, then you need to be here. The first intake of selected applicants have exceptional minds so impacting innovation is guaranteed.” says Lesley Donna Willaims, co-founder and director of the Johannesburg Hub.

The aim is to grow new businesses, especially online stores, and what better way to attract skills than offer great prizes? You can win R50,000 seed capital, Vodacom smartpads, business mentoring from the experts and even a membership to The Hub. And if you walk away simply having attended, you’ll have probably met someone who can help you improve or get your business off the ground.

It also takes place in Nairobi, Cairo and Lagos this month, so perhaps joining forces with conferences like Tech4Africa (run by Gareth Knight) would be a new path for The Hub.

If you’ve got an idea or start-up and can get to Johannesburg on the 23-25 March 2012, there’s no better place to be. If you miss The Hub’s Culture Shift event, you’ll have to wait a while for the next one. Or fly into Africa. Apply here.