Startups can capitalise on SA’s “gloomy” business environment

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Now is the time for South African small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to capitalise on the country’s “gloomy” economy and business environment, finding gaps in the market larger corporations are unable to exploit.

This is the view of Christo Botes, executive director at South African risk finance firm Business Partners, who says the tighter internal structures of larger corporations hinders their ability to adapt timeously to changes in the market.

This creates gaps for smaller businesses to fill, with Botes using an analogy he says is fitting to describe the situation: “Big ships take long to turn, whereas smaller ones are able to turn quicker and move swiftly along.”

“Smaller businesses are agile and have the ability to quickly overcome various obstacles to establish and attain longevity. Compared to bigger corporations, smaller businesses are easily adaptable to movements in the market due to their size,” he said.

With the South African economy facing gradual rate hikes, a tighter fiscal policy, and plummeting commodity prices, Botes said entrepreneurs were increasingly becoming the driving force behind growth, and that they should be using the current economic climate as a chance to seek new business ventures and opportunities.

“Entrepreneurs have the ability to create new, competitive markets through innovation and creativity,” he said.

The National Planning Commission has previously reported that approximately 90 per cent of jobs will be created in small and expanding firms.

“Entrepreneurs need to unleash the thinking and can-do attitude they are known for and capitalise on the opportunities the market is providing. Entrepreneurs have the ability to create good news stories despite the economic conditions of the country,” Botes said.

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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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