Today's Top Entrepreneurship and Business Stories (17 March)

Growing appetite among SA fund managers for investing in startups, African agri-investment roadshows in New York, London and Hong Kong, and more


Growing appetite among fund managers for investing in startups

The growing interest and activity in South African venture capital signifies an evolving and expanding opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs as well as the local economy. 

This is according to Tanya van Lill, CEO of the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA), who was speaking in light of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) 2017, an event taking place this week in Johannesburg, which identifies new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world.

"South Africa’s venture capital (VC) ecosystem is evolving, with more fund managers entering the industry and growing investor interest in the asset class. This increased activity is generating positive spinoffs for local, innovative entrepreneurs seeking funding," says van Lill.

SAVCA’s most recent VC survey, which tracked South African VC industry activity from 2011 to 2015, shows that there were 168 new deals concluded by 21 public and private VC fund managers and angel investors during this period, and that the South African VC industry, which accounted for nearly R2 billion in VC assets under management.

Van Lill notes that there was substantial VC activity in 2016: "The past 12 months have seen a healthy number of new and follow-on VC investments in technology-enabled businesses, however the interest of VC firms extends well beyond ICT-type businesses into more conventional industries, such as agriculture and housing.

"Innovative food companies are also increasingly gaining market share as these present an opportunity to one day sell these investments to more established players who often struggle to innovate internally and instead opt to acquire innovative new brands," says van Lill.

She explains that South Africa’s economic climate is feeding this appetite. "The IMF estimated South Africa economic growth in 2016 at just 0.3% - down from 1.3% in 2015, and forecasts continued to report lacklustre growth of 0.8% in 2017. But in the current challenging economic climate we have seen that VC investors have continued to have an appetite for investment in start-ups, especially high-tech VC type businesses, which are still in short supply in South Africa."

African agri-investment roadshows in New York, London and Hong Kong

The African Agri Council (AAC) on Thursday announced details of three outward investment missions – to New York, London and Hong Kong – later this year to help Africa position itself as an attractive agricultural investment target.

The outward missions will focus on investment in the most innovative and competitive sectors in agriculture across the continent. The council said in a statement that its outward missions would also facilitate access to key economic decision-makers and strategic partners.

The outward missions were opened up on Thursday in terms of delegation participation, although the council said "much work has been in progress with some government departments".

The outward missions are also part of groundwork for the African Agri Investment Indaba, the global meeting place for agri investment in Africa, held annually in November in Cape Town.

Based in Cape Town, AAC members are spread across Africa and the rest of the world, including agri-businesses, government, academics, associations, unions, non-governmental organisations, and investors and financiers.

The outward missions are three-day investor discovery trade missions and technical tours. They comprise a number of high-level events, including a one-day investor discovery and networking programme, matchmaking meetings with pre-selected members of the investment community and businesses with an appetite for African agriculture, as well as site visits.

The forums – to New York from April 17 to 19; to London, from May 22 to 24; and to Hong Kong from June 21 to 23 – present a unique opportunity for African stakeholders to showcase investment opportunities to a carefully selected audience, meet with key global investors, and network with key investment partners and international corporations, the AAC said. – African News Agency (ANA)

Holders of 1,276 fake qualifications to be registered on SA Qualifications Authority – Cabinet

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has so far identified 1,276 fake academic qualifications, with some of the cases already having been handed over to authorities for possible prosecution, Cabinet announced on Thursday.

Briefing journalists following Wednesday’s fortnightly cabinet briefing, Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe said government was hard at work securing the credibility of qualifications and South Africa’s higher education system.

“The announcement by the minister of higher education and training on action to be taken against holders of fake qualifications, including prosecuting and publicly naming and shaming them, will contribute to ending the growing prevalance of qualification forgeries,” said Radebe.

“As at the end of January 2017, a total of 1,276 qualifications (444 national and 832 foreign qualifications) were recorded on SAQA’s list of misrepresented qualifications, with 78 affidavits completed for handover to the Hawks for prosecutions.”

The names of holders of fake qualifications would also be registered on SAQA’s website. – African News Agency (ANA)

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