ENTREPRENEURS in South Africa have a pessimistic outlook compared with others operating elsewhere on the continent.
Legislation and limited skills availability and talent remain drawbacks for the country in growing new businesses, according to a Omidyar Network Africa survey.
Most of the survey's 1100 respondents found that South Africa did not focus enough on developing entrepreneurs.
Omidyar Network Africa's Malik Fal said: "The feedback was worse [for South Africa] than other African countries."
Omidyar Network Africa, founded by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar, is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunities for people to improve their lives.
According to Fal‚ an Africa office, which will be based in Sandton, is being commissioned next week. The organisation‚ though‚ has been involved in Africa since 2004 and has invested $40-million (R409-million) in 30 companies.
"We want to accelerate investment into Africa‚" Fal said.
Aconference for entrepreneurs wanting to invest in start-up companies – angel investors – is alsoplanned for the coming weeks.
The man who established Google's presence in South Africa‚ Stafford Masie‚ said "innovators make companies".
He told the Innovation Summit last week: "We don't work enough on stuff that matters in South Africa. You must make things that don't exist."
The Industrial Development Corporation is one of the major supporters of innovation in South Africa – it hosted the Innovation Summit. It has a venture capital unit that has invested more than R600-million in 32 new technology focused start-up companies.
The Department of Trade and Industry has started a support programme for industrial innovation‚ with funding of between R60-million and R80-million a year. But more is needed.
A new innovation index, which will be run by Accenture, is due to be launched this year. The index will set the tone in the sector, as the best innovations will be rewarded.
Intervate supports the mooted index.
Intervate's Gia Thom said technology was critical for business and this was where major opportunities were.
According to Thom‚ costs are not an inhibiting factor because of return on investment. "By automating manual processes and dramatically improving productivity and accuracy‚ software ensures that a team is able to process more information‚ in less time‚ with fewer mistakes requiring correction downstream," she said.
In an accounts payable department that processes invoices‚ an organisation can expect a 90% extraction rate‚ a 50% reduction in queries and a productivity improvement of between 200% to 1000%.
Also, the software improves over time.