Johannesburg to host Africa’s 1st Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2017

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Johannesburg has been confirmed as the 2017 host of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC), the first time the event will take place in Africa.

The event, which attracts business professionals from more than 150 countries, took place in Milan, Italy in March this year, attracting 10,000 delegates, and will be hosted by Medellin, Colombia, in 2016.

Johannesburg will be Africa’s first host city in 2017 after a successful bid involving the City of Johannesburg, Barclays Africa, the South African government and Sustainable Entrepreneur Accelerator (SEA) Africa.

“GEC will help sustain the momentum of an entrepreneurial revolution which President Jacob Zuma set in motion last year when he announced the establishment of our separate department that would focus on small businesses and cooperatives,” minister of small business development Lindiwe Zulu said.

“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.”

The event will be co-hosted by Johannesburg and SEA Africa, with Kizito Okechukwu, executive head of SEA Africa, saying it would 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. We are expecting leading global entrepreneurs and innovators to grace this occasion,” Okechukwu said.

Craig Bond, chief executive officer (CEO) of retail and business banking at Barclays Africa, said the GEC was a platform that could open doors for Africa’s youth and ignite entrepreneurship.

“It contributes to the overall Pan-Africanism objective by strengthening common perspectives amongst nations, creating partnerships and collaborative efforts, and encouraging inter-regional trade,” he said.

Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Network, which holds the rights to the event, said: “GEC 2017 is just one example of the Global Entrepreneurship Network commitment to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs start and scale—rebranding the continent and permanently shifting perceptions around the world.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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