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Joburg Tourism campaign: making visitors feel welcome

Joburg Tourism launched the Welcome to Jozi – Make a Visitor’s Day! campaign with the aim to encourage Joburg’s residents to make visitors feel welcome. The campaign is designed to educate and inform Johannesburg residents on being Johanessburg ambassadors, promote the city and enhance visitors experience.

As Africa’s most visited city and the continent’s leading business and lifestyle destination, Joburg attracts visitors from Gauteng, from South Africa’s other provinces, from other African countries and from destinations around the world. The reasons they come to Johannesburg are as diverse as the visitors themselves. They could be students studying at our tertiary institutions, people who come for medical reasons, business people visiting the city for meetings, business events, exhibitions and incentives, sports enthusiasts, concertgoers, those seeking leisure, lifestyle, heritage and cultural experiences, and those who come to visit friends and relatives.

Demonstrate and sell product over three busy days

Joburgers encouraged to make a visitor’s day

The Welcome to Jozi – Make a Visitor’s Day Today! campaign takes a collaborative approach with Joburgers to go the extra mile and make a visitor’s day. They are encouraged to be helpful, courteous and friendly. This may be a simple gesture such as helping a visitor with directions. They are also encouraged to learn more about visitors to Joburg, for example by providing Indian diners with plenty of serviettes and a finger bowl as they generally eat with their hands. The campaign will also educate locals on how to interact with visitors, for example etiquette and conversing in their languages to make them feel welcome

Joburgers can also make a visitor’s day by showing them the city’s rich culture, heritage, leisure and lifestyle attractions and activities. This means that they have to be familiar with the city’s tourist attractions and how to access them. As in many other destinations around the world, residents often remain unaware of their city’s tourism and leisure offerings and the campaign aims to address this.

Joburg is so much more than a stopover city, with a great deal to experience and explore. Our struggle history, and culture and heritage attractions provide fascinating insights into the city’s past and current developments.

Among the many exciting things to do:

• Visit historical sites such as the Apartheid Museum, Constitutional Hill and Liliesleaf

• Take a walking or cycling tour of Soweto or downtown Joburg

• Hang out in the funky Maboneng District and Braamfontein where you’ll find Joburg’s hip crowd exploring art galleries, theatres, bookstores, food markets, bars, specialty stores and more

• Adventure and adolescent junkies love the bungee jump at Orlando Towers in Soweto, zip lining in Melrose and go-karting at Kyalami Race Track

• The City Sightseeing Red City Tour hop-on-hop-off bus takes visitors to some of Joburg’s most iconic attractions and is a must-do adventure for any visitor to Joburg

• Eating out at our many fine restaurants for a culinary experience

• Shopping at our world class malls

• Explore Joburg’s art scene at fine art galleries and markets

• Enjoying world-class productions at our many theatres

• Taking part in our many outdoor annual sporting events

• Being part of exhilarating music concerts, entertainment and lifestyle events

Showcasing Joburg as a business events destination

When compared with other global cities, Joburg is one of the most affordable to visit for both domestic and international visitors, whether it’s paying for transport and accommodation, entry into the city’s many tourist attractions, shopping, or enjoying its superb restaurants, nightlife and cultural attractions.
The Welcome to Jozi – Make a Visitor’s Day Today! campaign will also showcase Johannesburg’s capabilities and credentials as an international destination of choice and as a year-round destination for business and investment, business events, lifestyle, sports and leisure.

Meeting planners organising meetings, conferences or exhibitions in Joburg are spoilt for choice when it comes to business events venues. They don’t need to venture outside of Joburg to source suitable venues. In addition, by retaining their meetings in Joburg, there is a range of four and five-star stand-alone international convention centres, expo centres, and multi-purpose venues that can cater for smaller meetings and large conferences of up to 20,000 delegates. To date, over 28 000 lifestyle events have been hosted in Joburg alone in 2015.

Nurturing tourism

There is also a wide range of three to five-star hotels that have high-tech meeting rooms, combining the best in accommodation with world-class conferencing facilities. “Visitors to our city make a significant contribution to Johannesburg’s economy, which benefits development, job creation and transformation. By giving our visitors the best experiences while in our vibrant city, we are nurturing and growing tourism’s contribution to our local economy which is advantageous to all of us.” Says counsellor Ruby Mathang, head of economic development at the City of Johannesburg.

He adds that the campaign’s success is dependent on collaboration and cooperation between the City of Johannesburg, its residents and all tourism stakeholders. “By working together, we can ensure visitors to our wonderful city experience the best that Johannesburg has to offer – our warm and welcoming people and the fantastic variety of experiences and attractions on offer.”

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Collaboration set to build sustainable businesses

Lagos – MTN, the mobile network operator, and Jumia, Nigeria’s leading online shopping site, have partnered for a first-of-its-kind competition that is envisaged to build a stronger and more sustainable business environment across Africa.

Launched on Tuesday morning, the pan-African competition brings together over 1 000 entrepreneurs, students and investors, to collaborate on ways to amplify and consolidate the continent’s entrepreneurs.

Targeting more than 60 universities in 13 countries across Africa, the competition will challenge students to develop a unique digital application or smart solution that would ill solve tangible problems faced on the continent.

MTN’s Group Chief Digital Officer, Herman Singh, said the Entrepreneurship Challenge was aligned to MTN’s own entrepreneurial culture and history as well as our values as a business.

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“We believe inspiration of new business leaders in Africa and their enablement to success, will be key drivers for the future rapid evolution of a broader start-up culture on the continent.

This is an environment already teeming with excellent potential and we hope to assist in accelerating its further growth and to raise MTN’s role in creating new businesses in Africa,” said Singh.

Bankole Cardoso, Head of Communications at Jumia, said the competition would contribute to building a stronger and more sustainable business environment across Africa.

“Its main goal is to boost and fuel African entrepreneurship by enabling young and smart entrepreneurs to kick off with their own projects. The key for us is to give full and adapted support to young talents, from funding to mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs,” Cardoso said.

The winner of the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia will win a cash prize of US$25 000 towards their start-up, and will also benefit from a yearlong partnership with Jumia.

The winner will also have access to a Facebook Start Program to the value of $15 000, which includes tools and services needed to build mobile applications.

In addition, they will have the opportunity to work from the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

The two runners-up will each receive $5 000 towards their projects.

Applications for the first round of the multi-phased competition are open from today and will close on March 27.

The finalists will be announced on April 16.

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Source: news24


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Growing Africa’s SMEs through CSR initiatives

As many African countries grapple with economic uncertainties, resulting in increasing rate of unemployment, business leaders believe that the sure way to reverse the ugly trend is to train future entrepreneurs that will help leapfrog the continent through enterprise and innovation. David Audu reports on Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, concept as one of the components of such social enterprise initiatives.

As global unemployment rate soars, with the International Labour Organisation, ILO, projecting that an estimated 212 million people may be jobless by 2019, most countries are adopting remedial policy measures to avert the looming crisis and by so doing, mitigating the socio-economic damages to their economies.

Conscious of the negative effects of burgeoning unemployment in their domains, political leaders, businessmen and other development experts are consensual in their views that entrepreneurship, particularly among the youth population, remain the key to guaranteeing the future of the countries and people and laying enduring foundation for their real social, economic and political transformation. They agreed that the only way to achieve this lofty dream is to increase the number of entrepreneurs so as to minimise the increasing rush for formal, white collar jobs by young school leavers and giving them the right orientation about entrepreneurship and its potential for their self fulfilment. Besides, the new emphasis on entrepreneurship development assumes that entrepreneurs will in turn provide employment for others along the value chain. It has also become a known fact that small and medium enterprises are globally regarded as the backbone of any economy. According to experts, when given adequate support, SMEs can spur significant economic growth.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, SMEs have a significant role to play in economic development. According to UNIDO, SMEs form the backbone of the private sector; make up over 90 per cent of enterprises in the world and account for 50 to 60 per cent of employment. “They also play an important role in generating employment and poverty alleviation”, It said. The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, put the total number of SMEs in Nigeria at over 17 million. However, because of some challenges in the economy, a lot of SME operators in the country fi nd it very difficult to effectively play their role. Some of these constraints include competition, infrastructure, taxes, accounting, management, marketing, economic, planning and finance. Also, poor economic conditions, which also imply poor finance and inadequate infrastructure, have been identified as the most crucial limiting factors. Again, poor access to finance at relatively cheap cost is also one of the most crucial problems hindering SMEs to have significant contribution to national output in Nigeria.

There is no doubt that Nigeria as a nation, since attaining independence in 1960 has tried out various economic policies in a bid to achieve meaningful economic development. Most of these policies, some analysts say, are centrally planned and government dominated. The resultant impact of this excessive government domination of the economy left much to be desired leading to massive divestment in the 1990’s by the government. This was done under the economic policy of “privatisation and commercialisation”. The shift of emphasis thus created a challenge of building capable, dynamic and resourceful entrepreneurs to take the baton of economic revitalisation from government. These entrepreneurs incidentally have to fulfi l this onerous task through the establishment of business that could mainly be classified as small and medium scale in nature. However, over the years the task of creating a sustainable environment for SMEs to thrive was a difficult one, and for obvious reasons. One, the dwindling state of the economy has made it difficult for people to save and thereby little capital accumulation for investment. Further, the private sector was long undeveloped making experienced entrepreneur and small business managers scarce. Today, there is a growing consensus among policy makers, academia, industrialists and economic planners, that the development of local entrepreneur and encouragement of the establishment of small and medium scale business is the only penance to our economic growth. With this reality in view, a number of private organisations and individuals have taken it upon themselves to provide the necessary impetus to encourage young people to embrace entrepreneurship.

One current example among others is the chairman of Heirs Holding Mr. Tony Elumelu whose foundation, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, TEEP, which in its current drive towards this end has earmarked about $100m as grants to about 1000 young people from Nigeria and other African countries to train and mentor in various entrepreneurship projects. According to Elumelu, “African destiny lies with us African to realise”. The project, though with an African wide focus, has about 50 per cent participants coming from Nigeria. Launched in December 2014, the TEEP project is a $100m initiative to discover and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, with a target of creating one million new jobs and $10bn in additional gross domestic product contribution to African economy by the end of the programme. Economic analysts have described the programme as the first of such initiative to be launched by an African philanthropic organisation targeting the entrepreneurial space designed to empower the next generation of Africans entrepreneurs. Areas of focus by the programme include agriculture with 30 per cent participants; commerce and retail have nine per cent, while education and training have equally nine per cent each respectively.

Other areas include ICT, eight per cent, manufacturing, eight per cent, while healthcare and fashion have five and four per cent each. Energy, power and construction have three per cent; waste management, transportation, financial services, tourism and hospitality have two per cent each. While the programme covered 51 African countries, 49 per cent are from Nigeria followed by Kenya with 16 per cent; Uganda, four per cent; Ghana 3.6 per cent and South Africa with 3.2 per cent. At the TEEP boot camp in Otta, Ogun State last year attended by dignitaries and government officials, the need to harness Africa potentials through creating conducive environment and empowerment for Africa entrepreneurs to thrive was highlighted. Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, underlined the need for African leaders to pay attention to developing entrepreneurs to move the continent forward. Restating the plight of Africa as a continent, which he stand in the throes of poverty and disease, and having the highest ratio of unemployment, and therefore the need for concerted efforts to pull it out, adding that entrepreneurship and handwork are the instrument of growth and development. He enjoined all to embrace integrity, rule of law, transparency and self discipline to entrench enduring business ethics in Nigeria and on the continent in generals. He charged the aspiring entrepreneurs to embrace the spirit of trust, integrity, and consistency, reminding that enduring success comes from respect for the rule of law and commitment to set objectives He commended the Heirs Holdings for initiating the programme, noting that “economies cannot be developed without social entrepreneurs like Tony Elumelu”.

He said Elumelu invoked the daring spirit successful enterprise by investing substantially in the ideas of entrepreneurship of the young Africans. By doing this he is shaping the future of the continent as he empower them to embrace entrepreneur to enable them direct the economic affairs of the continent in the coming years. He said government on its part will continue to provide enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive Acting United States Consul General, DI Gilbert likened the gathering to African Union meeting in Nigeria and described it as the ‘future Africa’. She said it is education that gives people the working tool that will make them productive. Asking how we can do things differently? She charged the beneficiaries to look for a creative new way of doing things to add value to society.

To African leaders and business men, she reminded them of the potentials that lie in Africa. “With 30 per cent of your population under 30, the energy is there and therefore the need for you to get going through right economic initiatives such what the Elumelu foundation has done”. Guest of the occasion, Prime Minister of the Republic of Benin, Lionel Zinzou, lauded the initiative while describing every effort to boost entrepreneur in Africa as the urgent thing the continent requires for growth and development. He said every country in Africa and indeed Africa as a whole need innovative idea which young talents who are beneficiaries of the TEEP project will bring Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was at the event urged the beneficiaries of the programme to convert their ideas into work that will make Africa proud. Speaking on what government can do to encourage entrepreneurs, he said only government through workable policies and good legislation can provide the level of trust that is required for successful entrepreneurship.

“Nothing is possible without a functional government. No matter how rich you are, without a minimal functional government to provide the basics such as road, power and other infrastructure you are lost.” He therefore urged the federal government on the need “to take a pragmatic approach to policy redemption and investment in Africa”. He noted that Africa with it large population stands at a great advantage if it leverage on the huge demographic dividend but will be a disaster if it fail to do so, while urging African political leaders to boost their economies through appropriate policies and legislation that will encourage entrepreneurship. Managing director Bank of Industries, BOI, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, noted the impact the programme will have on the continent and Nigeria in particular. He said the bank will work with the candidate to help them evolve successful business that will enable them be employers of labour in the future. Explaining further his vision for Africa’s entrepreneurship project, Elumelu noted that only the present Africans can develop the continent for the future, stressing that “Africa needs multiple successful private sector business to make its mark on the world stage”. Advising the young entrepreneurs, Elumelu urged them to imbibe the spirit of hard work, discipline and the need to think long term in their vision. The entrepreneurs would receive $5000 seed capital each to enable them start their dream projects.

Source: nationalmirroronline


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How sustainable cities can drive business growth

The notion of sustainable cities usually conjures environmental themes, but sustainable urban design’s greatest impact could be on economic performance. By creating improved quality of life conditions for residents, sustainable cities simultaneously lay the foundation for wide-ranging economic benefits.

The greatest competition in today’s footloose economy is the fight for human talent, and urban quality of life strongly determines whether cities can attract a smart workforce, as well as the innovative new companies employing them.

Cities weren’t always ideal for business, and for decades the attraction of space and privacy drew people toward suburbia, with businesses following suit. But within the last decade people have begun returning to the city, and this trend symbolically accelerated in 2015 when millennials overtook Generation X as the largest generation in America’s workforce.

This generation is often characterized as smart, single, career-focused and experience-driven — a group attracted to cities with walkable neighborhoods, public transportation options, educational opportunities and cultural activities. But more than just young adults are increasingly drawn to the features of urban living, and employees of all ages are working longer hours, pushing them to live closer to work to free up more precious leisure time.

A changing workforce

Smart companies have taken heed, realizing the benefits of an urban location over a suburban one.

A recent report by Smart Growth America, “Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown (PDF),” tracks the migration of nearly 500 businesses back downtown, with firms citing increased employee recruitment and retention as the main reason for their move.

And the talent pool these companies seek prefers both living and working in vibrant, accessible neighborhoods. As such, the surveyed companies relocated to more central, urban areas that increased their average locational walk scores (from 51 to 88), average transit scores (from 52 to 79) and average bike scores (from 66 to 78).

Some of Corporate America’s biggest names are leading this charge.

In January, General Electric announced it would relocate its headquarters from suburban Connecticut into downtown Boston as part of the company’s effort “to attract the talented workers who prefer to live and work in cities.” Major companies joining the suburban exodus include ConAgra Foods and Motorola Mobility in Chicago, Expedia in Seattle and Zappos in Las Vegas.

The smart (and green) choice for cities

So if today’s workforce prefers modern urban living, and businesses seek locations catering to employee interests, which urban development practices should government and developers consider in long-term city planning?

A handful of urban design features form the core of sustainable cities, all of which have the common objective of being focused on the person (or employee) instead of the car, street or building.

These features, as outlined in the “Green and Smart Urban Development Guidelines” developed by our firm, Energy Innovation, are tailored to human interests while supporting a clean urban environment and healthy economy. The Guidelines outline a dozen features related to urban form, transportation and energy and resource management, comprising the foundation of sustainable urban development.

Five features stand out for cities and businesses seeking smart growth synergy:

  1. Mixed-use neighborhoods: Intermingling residential, commercial, cultural and institutional spaces makes amenities more accessible. By locating destinations closer together, people feel less need to drive from one place to the other, encouraging them to walk or bike more often.
  2. Public transit and transit-oriented development: In sustainable cities, public transit becomes an alternative to cars when the distance between destinations is too far to walk or bike. Cities encourage public transit use by focusing development around public transit systems through transit-oriented development, which locates amenities or services near transit stations or on transit lines.  
  3. Non-motorized transit: Non-motorized transit such as walking and biking are priority modes of transportation in sustainable cities, and are reinforced by mixed-use development locating amenities and services within comfortable distances.  
  4. Small blocks form a connected urban grid: Small street blocks create a dense urban grid, enabling direct pathways and making trips shorter and safer for pedestrians and bikers. Narrower streets make intersections less of an obstacle, and when combined with elements such as one-way streets or dedicated bus lanes, help traffic move more efficiently, too. 
  5. Public green space: Attractive public spaces such as parks and plazas bring economic and cultural richness to a city by providing neighborhoods with an identity and sense of community, while also offering an outlet from the clamor of regular city life.

The business payoff

These features have an enormous payoff for a city’s inhabitants — residential and business alike. Our recent study, “Moving California Forward (PDF),” found significant economic benefits from smart growth – a development pattern emphasizing compact or infill urban development to facilitate mixed-use neighborhoods and non-motorized transit options – in California’s urban regions. 

Benefits included average annual household savings of up to $2,000 from reduced transportation costs and more than $1 billion in annual public health savings from reduced air pollution and car use, both by 2030.

Sustainable cities directly benefit businesses by attracting a smart and diverse workforce, and indirectly boost the corporate bottom line by improving workforce health and time efficiency. These “payoffs” from sustainable cities fall into four categories:

  • Increased time efficiency: Commute times are reduced when people live closer to their jobs, and the transition from private cars to public transit or non-motorized transit reduces traffic congestion.  Today, the average car commuter loses 42 hours every year — up to 80 hours in some places — due to traffic. Companies benefit when employees avoid sitting in traffic, earning back nearly two days’ worth of time every year.
  • Access to talent: Skilled workers increasingly want to live in walkable and centrally located places close to services, amenities and job opportunities. Not only are companies more attractive to skilled workers if they are located nearby, but their central location accesses a greater talent pool for hiring.  
  • Improved health: A physically and mentally healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Shorter commutes means more time for people to get involved in activities improving their minds and bodies — research shows every hour per day spent driving increases the risk of obesity 6 percent. Alternatively, biking even just a couple miles to work can increase cardiovascular fitness and reduce cancer mortality. A healthy workforcereduces workplace absenteeism while increasing job productivity (quantity of work) and performance (quality of work).  
  • Innovation inspired by diversity: Sustainable cities attract demographically and professionally diverse talent — a major catalyst for new ideas. In “The Rise of the Creative Class,” Richard Florida notes diversity trumps ability in driving innovation and creativity. Access to public spaces, a feature of sustainable cities, fosters interaction among diverse groups of people.

Cities with universities, laboratories and cultural institutions are also the perfect platform for cross-industry collaboration. Mixed-use development facilitates connections through proximity to spaces where people can interact, while walking and public transit encourage unplanned connections and exchanges among people.

The smart choice

The city always has had a dynamic relationship with its businesses, and today’s influx of new inhabitants opens fresh opportunities for sustainable urban development.

In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jane Jacobs wrote, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” A city’s identity is the product of its inhabitants, and it is nothing without them — much like businesses, the identities of which are driven by their employees.

As peoples’ preferences evolve over time, cities must grow sustainably to attract the right mix of new residents and innovative businesses.  While “sustainable” sounds complicated, the basic pattern is pretty simple — build up walkable, bike-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed-use neighborhoods.

It is the city’s role to adopt smart growth features to keep “providing something for everyone” — that’s the smart choice and the sustainable choice. The result will be new liveable places, better for business and the environment.

Source: greenbiz


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South Africa’s fiery mix of economic risks

Foreign investors and rating agencies are watching every event, especially politics. The magnifying glass is out after Nenegate.

I AM no fan of hyperbole, but this year strikes me as possibly the most important year since 1994 for the economy, the medium-run direction of policy and SA’s potential for job creation and development.

There will be difficult political, microeconomic and macroeconomic choices to make in such a weak foreign and domestic growth environment. SA will be at a nexus dealing with a substantial terms-of-trade shock and Chinese slowdown, amplified by the negative effects on domestic sentiment from the political risk premia shock last month and the government’s policy choices in recent years. Add succession battles within the African National Congress (ANC), a raft of left-leaning policies as outlined in the party’s January 8 anniversary statement and a need to keep investors onside…. That is a fiery mix of risks.Investors and businesses that can understand and navigate these currents will be best placed to outperform. Indeed, I expect the result to be growth of just 0.9% this year. Our forecast does not include two quarters of negative growth — a technical recession. But I would characterise this year as a “feels like recession” year, and indeed that is what should matter to the government.

No jobs a shock signal for change

The best way to crystallise this is to say there are likely to be no (net) new jobs created in the economy for the first time since 2010, although the rate of jobs growth in recent years has already been inadequate to reduce unemployment. No job growth in so many countries is generally a shock signal for change — the question is in which direction, for the government and SA.I think next month will be the most important month, through which we should get a good sense of the direction of policy. The answer may well be confusing though. Cognitive dissonance may be the order of the day — a challenging state of the nation address for business and foreign investors (and rating agencies), but followed by a decent budget that does (in a somewhat threadbare fashion) hang together okay. These divergent forces for investors and local business mean we need to understand what is important over the medium run.

Rewinding to Nene-gate

Rewind to Monday, December 7, before the Nene-gate saga, just after the rating agencies’ downgrades the Friday before.We are currently in a position not that different to then — trusting the Treasury to deliver the goods in the political space it is given, but doubting the size and shrinking nature of that political space. With Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at the helm, investors are more confident that the space in which the Treasury can operate is slightly bigger. But the concern is that it is not that much expanded, and that thinking about it like this in the short run misses the point.Rating agencies’ reports and feedback from investors since last month indicate that the fiscal situation is not the primary concern. The situation is only a concern as a secondary consequence of wider (particularly micro-) economic policy choices by the government, and the political backdrop. The concern is what effect these policy shifts will have on growth, and then fiscal and debt risks and sustainability in the long run.

Again, we return to the idea of how the state of the economy and the political space in which the Treasury has to operate are central. Therein lies the important juxtaposition of the state of the nation address and the budget.I think investors and rating agencies will be happy with tax hikes and continued cuts to keep expenditure under its ceiling, although there will be a real test of what macro forecasts are used because the International Monetary Fund has now cut its growth projection to just 0.7% and the medium term budget policy statement forecast was 1.7%. We will, in particular, be watching the overall ZAR long-dated issuance data, which largely caused the market to sell off after the minibudget and will likely have to deteriorate again this time.However, the budget may be as good as it gets this year, both on the pure fiscal front and on the wider risk story.

This is where the state of the nation address comes in. While we already had an appetiser with the January 8 statement, this is likely to be one of the most analysed ones yet. Now investors’ eyes are firmly on the wider policy direction. We should also not forget the potential for protests at Parliament by opposition parties. Again, the question is in what direction SA moves in response to this growth shock. The government knows the budget can do little to help turn the economy around this year, but it can damage further job creation by accelerating a downgrade to junk status.

Instead, the government’s policy choice, seen through the state of the nation address, will be a minimum wage, sold as redistribution from the corporate sector, that benefits growth, revenue and employment. It will be about amplifying black economic empowerment under the existing model without fundamental reform in that area to drive true localised empowerment. It will be about more dialogue and “consensus” between the government and businesses, despite the fact that in the past 18 months, there has been a record number of meetings between the president and businesses, and with the National Economic Development and Labour Council still somewhere in the background doing this job.

Land reform and National Health Insurance are likely to appear too, wrapped into the president’s larger economic vision about redressing “300 years” of economic inequality. Indeed, that has been a key take-away from his public speeches for several months. That could well be the key defining narrative for this year, around which we need to think about policy direction.There seems little yet to shift the direction of policy from the status quo. The shock to the economy this year should be sufficiently large to drive policy forward along the existing path, but not big enough to define and then explore a new breakout path. As I said in this column last month, there are no new ideas for SA to jumpstart growth, opportunity and job creation, but old ideas need to be explored. The idea of an economic Codesa, which is increasingly being raised, could do this if all sides come with open minds and leave existing ideologies at the door, concentrating instead on aims such as maximising redistribution through job creation.

An announcement of such a forum would be a rabbit-from-a-hat for the state of the nation address and SA more generally, although its timing might be better suited to when the political environment is open to different directions and win-win agreements could be reached. I am concerned that more policies will have to be tried first, such as the minimum wage (set at a high level), before we get to a point of openness to a real Codesa-type negotiation, rather than more of the same “interactions”.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Foreign investors and rating agencies are watching every event, especially politics. The magnifying glass is out after Nenegate.

Source: rdm


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How The Economy In Africa Is Changing Business Travel

Private and public South African entities doing business in renewable energy, finance and management consulting stepped up business travel in 2015, while other sectors saw a marked decline in business travel, according to a report in BizNisAfrica.

Changes in 2015 business travel reflected changes in the economy, according to Raylene Pienaar, a general manager at business travel agency Corporate Traveller, based in Randburg near Johannesburg.

Some industrial and commercial sectors including those involved in mining and construction sent their executives on fewer business trips, while others significantly increased travel, Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.

“There has been strong business travel growth this year in the energy sector, and especially in companies and entities whose business is in sustainable and so-called ‘green’ energy,” Pienaar said. “Renewable energy businesses, especially, are showing great growth, booking more flights both locally and abroad than ever before.”

Financial institutions and management consulting companies also showed growth in business travel, especially in Africa. This could mean that these skills in South Africa are in demand on a continent that’s been identified as a global economic growth region, Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.

However, there was a significant decline in business travel across some sectors of the economy, Pienaar said, indicating that these industries may bear the brunt of weakened economic conditions.

Those sectors include mining and industries that support mining — construction, engineering, and environmental consulting.

Construction companies are under pressure globally — not just in Africa — and business travel decreased markedly in 2015, Pienaar said.

There was a decline in property management travel in 2015, Pienaar said. Consultants stay at company headquarters and managed properties remotely.

Digital technology allows people to work off site and offers an alternative to booking an airline ticket and paying a personal visit to a client or partner.

“Some of our clients tell us they need to spend cautiously, and are cutting back until macro and industry-specific conditions improve,” Pienaar told BizNisAfrica.

In industries that are doing well, business travelers want to meet with associates in person, Pienaar said. “They see the value in investing in travel for business: to close the deal, offer a personal handshake and develop those critical personal relationships.”

Source: afkinsider


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UN climate change chief: ‘We are counting on the business community’

The UN’s climate change chief, Christiana Figueres, has today issued a heartfelt plea for businesses to support the push for a global climate change agreement, arguing they are crucial to the success of any deal reached in Paris later this year.
Writing for BusinessGreen as part of the site’s new content hub, Figueres said the long-running negotiations to deliver a new international climate change treaty had entered an exciting new phase whereby businesses and governments were no longer stuck in a deadlock over who should act first to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“The historical catch 22 around who should act first on climate change – governments or businesses – has finally been broken,” she said. “What we are now witnessing is a “co-responding” effort from both the public and private sector, responding to the reality that green growth and a wider understanding of what is wealth, is the growth-engine of the future.”

Figueres insisted she was increasingly confident a deal can be reached at the Paris Summit at the end of the year, in part because 46 nations have now submitted detailed climate action plans ahead of the talks and in part because of “the rising ambition and action of companies and investors”.

“At the close of this year, we can be confident we will have that new agreement which needs to put the world on track to a low carbon economy by charting a defining and definitive course towards limiting a global temperature rise under 2 degrees Celcius this century,” she writes.

Figueres also argued that the long-term plans for governments and businesses are more aligned than ever. “Governments, through decisive and bold action – such as the recent announcement by the leaders of the G7 countries to phase out the use of fossil fuels by the end of this century – are signalling that investment in green technology is a sure bet as the world transitions to a low-emission economy,” she said. “Similarly, companies that recognise that climate action makes good business sense are committing to invest in innovative technologies, which are transforming the energy market.”

However, Figueres argued businesses could support the summit further by signing up to cross-industry commitments to curb their greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts.

“Ultimately, one of the most compelling ways that businesses can build the will for a climate agreement is by signing up to initiatives that are truly transformational in terms of putting us on a trajectory towards steeply declining emissions such that in the second half of the century everyone can live and breathe in a climate-neutral world,” she writes. “This can mean setting a target for 100 per cent renewable energy use, committing to include climate change information in financial reports, or calling for a price on carbon – as six major European oil and gas companies did last month.”

Businesses are expected to play a key role at the Paris Summit where governments from around the world are planning to finalise an emissions reduction treaty that would then come into effect from 2020.

The treaty is expected to be based on a system of national climate action plans, known as INDCs, and as a result will have a major impact on national economies and policy regimes. Businesses will be expected to deliver on the national emissions reduction commitments through clean tech investments and new business processes. Meanwhile, the private sector is also expected to play a key role in delivering on a previous international commitment to mobilise up to $100bn of investment a year in helping poorer nations tackle climate change.

Growing numbers of business have voiced their support for the UN’s goals, arguing an international climate change agreement will help reduce climate-related risks for businesses, drive green growth, and create a level playing field between different jurisdictions.
Figueres stressed that the support of the private sector will be crucial if any UN agreement is prove a success. “We are counting on the business community to acknowledge their role in this new trend toward sustainability, seize the opportunity at hand and to work with their countries and their communities as we seek to mitigate the effects of climate change; build more resilient societies and help move every man, woman and child into a more healthy and prosperous future,” she wrote.

The UN’s latest intervention came on the same day a major new study from Grantham Institute argued that economics is no longer a barrier to tackling climate change. It claimed almost all measures to curb global temperature rise to under two degrees will bring a net economic benefit to individual countries.

Source: businessgreen


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SA’s SME s go green

The small and medium enterprise (SME) market is considered a vitally important business segment as far as South Africa’s economy goes – and now it’s becoming an engine for sustainability as well. The SME Survey 2015 is expected to confirm that there is a growing maturity in the SME sector in its approach to green issues. The complete survey results are due out mid-year.

SME Survey is the original and largest representative survey of SMEs in South Africa and, since 2003, has contributed ground-breaking research into the forces shaping SME competitiveness.

According to Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx and principal researcher for SME Survey, the last time SMEs were asked whether sustainability was important to their businesses, the responses were extremely non-

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committal.

“Around nine years ago, the Survey asked SMEs how important environmental sustainability was to them. The responses were so disinterested that we were unable to even provide a measurement in proportional terms. This indicated that, at that time, SMEs felt they had many concerns more important than green issues,” says Goldstuck.

“In the past, then, SMEs obviously viewed sustainability as more of a nice-to-have, rather than a necessity. However, since then, things have changed somewhat. This year, when asked whether green issues were important and whether they believed their businesses must operate in a sustainable fashion, an overwhelming majority said yes.”

A total of 86% of SMEs either agreed or strongly agreed on the importance of sustainability. In total, he adds, only 12% disagreed.

“This indicates a massive swing towards environmentally friendly approaches and is very encouraging news, coming from this sector. It demonstrates a growing awareness from SMEs of the fact that they do not live in a bubble. These entities are clearly beginning to consider the bigger picture and understand that their organisations need to play a part in driving environmental sustainability.”

Ethel Nyembe, head of Small Enterprise at Standard Bank says, “It is encouraging to see quite a number of SMEs being open-minded about adopting sustainable practices into their business operations. Now that SMEs understand the importance of sustainability and environmental responsibility, more needs to be done to help them incorporate these sustainable practices into their core business processes, regardless of their sector.”

“Furthermore, implementing sustainable business practices will give SMEs competitive advantages when dealing with larger corporates which now prefer suppliers that complement their sustainability objectives,” says Nyembe.

Goldstuck adds that part of the reason is the B-BBEE scorecard having the unexpected knock-on effect of driving businesses to become more aware of their responsibilities in terms of the environment.

“The B-BBEE legislation has forced many companies to look at their activities from a much broader perspective, and to think about the role and responsibilities of the business within their community and environment. They are realising that they can no longer just be in it for themselves.”

“Associated with this, there is also a much greater awareness among SMEs of climate change and its environmental impact. SMEs are becoming more conscious of their place in the world and are realising that, even if their own role in the larger sustainability picture is a tiny one, it remains important.”

Source: it-online


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Around 250 jobs promised for Castlebar

Around 250 new jobs are being promised for Castlebar in Co Mayo, with the opening of a hub for companies trying to set up businesses in the developing world.

The initiative is being overseen by OpenSparkz – a company that sources capital for sustainable business models.

The focus is on projects that bring an economic return as well as environmental and social benefits to the areas in which they operate. Screen-Shot-2015-01-29-at-8.58.03-AM

The so-called ‘impact investment’ model brings funding from a range of sources, with the end goal of ensuring there is a lasting positive return for local communities.

The Global Sustainability Initiative will involve a number of companies working together at a facility in Castlebar.

These firms will be linked with local landowners in Africa to develop sustainable energy, food and water-related businesses.

40% of all profit generated will then be re-invested in the communities, to advance the provision of health, education and IT infrastructure.

Organisers say the aim is to create a safe and enduring economic model. The initial focus is on projects in South Africa.

A number of research areas have been identified. These include the development of new biomass fuel supplies to mitigate the impact of global warming; promoting the growth of organic foodstuffs and working to enhance the supply of drinking water.

OpenSparkz says it is in the process of completing contracts with ten companies that will operate from the hub.

These are working in the areas of food research, energy and waste management.

A suitable premises has been identified in recent weeks and is expected to be operational before the summer.

The project is being supported by Mayo County Council, with research backing from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and NUI Galway.

While a variety of companies will be based at the hub in Castlebar, they will be working to achieve common goals – to generate profit and leave a lasting legacy for the communities in which they operate.

The companies involved will have openings in the areas of Research and Development, IT Fund Management and other operational roles.

OpenSparkz founder Declan Conway says there is potential for further expansion but that the first 250 jobs will be filled over three years.

Details of the project will be formally announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and representatives from OpenSparkz in Washington this afternoon.

Source: RTE


 

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71.5% of Africans see entrepreneurship as good career choice

More than 70 per cent of Africans see entrepreneurship as a good career choice, with opportunity a far bigger driver for people starting their own businesses than necessity.

The figures are contained in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2014 Global Report, for which Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) surveyed more than 206,000 individuals were surveyed across 73 economies, including Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cameroon and Uganda.

It found 71.5 per cent of those surveyed in Africa generally considered entrepreneurship a good career choice, with the figure highest in Angola at 75.1 per cent. 77.6 per cent of Africans considered entrepreneurs to be of high status, with Angola again leading the way with 77.6 per cent. This was higher than elsewhere in the world, with only 56.9 per cent of Europeans, for example, believing starting a business was a good career move.

“Social values are an important part of the context in which individuals behave entrepreneurially or not. Starting a venture is seen as a good career choice mostly in African economies, while individuals in the European Union show the lowest level in this regard,” GEM said.

“Entrepreneurs in African and North American economies share the value of high status to successful entrepreneurs, which indicates that there is an entrepreneurial culture in those economies. This is additionally supported by high media attention for entrepreneurship.”

The report also found entrepreneurship in Africa is generally driven by opportunity rather than necessity. 71 per cent of Africans surveyed said their starting a business was opportunity-driven, as opposed to 26.3 per cent that said it was necessity-driven.

“Entrepreneurship is acknowledged as a driver of sustainable economic growth as entrepreneurs create new businesses, drive and shape innovation, speed up structural changes in the economy, and introduce new competition – thereby contributing to productivity,” the report said.

“Entrepreneurship can drive job creation and contribute to economic growth that is inclusive and reduces poverty. With young people being disproportionately affected by unemployment, policymakers and governments throughout Africa are ensuring that inhabitants have access to sustainable livelihoods.”

Governmental policies and internal market dynamics in Africa are better evaluated than in North America, while the dominant reason for discontinuation of the venture is lack of profitability. It also found African businesses tended not to be very internationalised, with almost 70 per cent of early-stage entrepreneurs not having a customer outside their respective countries. The exception is South Africa, where 26 per cent of early-stage entrepreneurs have more than 25 per cent of their customers abroad.

There were, however, some words of warning for South Africa in terms of the amount of entrepreneurship taking place in the country.

“With the advent of democracy in 1994, entrepreneurship, SMME development and job creation became a priority in South Africa as many of its people, particularly African blacks, were precluded from the skilled job market and from starting their own businesses other than in restricted areas,” the report said.

“South Africa’s early-stage entrepreneurial activity is very low (six per cent-10 per cent), especially when compared to other developing countries such as those in South America. Further studies showed that education plays a major role in entrepreneurial activity in that the more educated the person, the more likely that person is to start a business and that the business continues to be sustainable. This finding emphasised the need for training in South Africa, particularly amongst the youth where unemployment continues to increase year-on-year.”

Source: Disrupt Africa


 

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