Edition: December 2015 / February 2016



Stephen Archer, Clement Chinaka and Zev Siegl.

The importance of a thriving small business sector cannot be overstated, as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) employ approximately 60% of South Africa’s workforce and contribute significantly towards economic growth, reportedly around 34%1.

How big businesses and corporates can assist in creating an environment that will promote this sector and propel the country’s future entrepreneurs was the conversation topic at the recent Old Mutual Corporate Wisdom Forum Gala Dinner held in Johannesburg.

Speaking at the event, Clement Chinaka, MD of Old Mutual Corporate, referred to the recent protest action across South Africa, which highlighted the country’s significant economic growth challenges. “We urgently need sustainable solutions that will be effective in growing the national economy in order to raise our global competitiveness ranking, create much needed employment opportunities, and encourage broad economic access, participation and contribution by more South Africans.”

Chinaka said that business partners in the South African economy should take on a larger role in developing the new generation of entrepreneurs. “We need to assist entrepreneurs who are in tune with the local business environment and have the ability to identify opportunities and leverage these in order to grow South Africa’s economy.”

The findings of the 2015 Old Mutual Corporate SME Employee Benefits Monitor reveal that many small and medium businesses believe they are unable to compete with larger corporates, thereby confirming big businesses’ responsibility to support the growth of smaller businesses.

“Given that larger and more established businesses have overcome many of the challenges associated with small business, such as access to funding and lack of business or management skills, we have the ability to advise and mentor emerging entrepreneurs.”

Chinaka added that promoting and enabling the next generation of African entrepreneurs is both a business and moral imperative. “The role a thriving SME culture can play in South Africa’s economy and its society is enormous.”

He points to the following scenario. “An entrepreneur identifies an opportunity and starts a business.If successful, the benefits begin to flow and jobs are created. The new business and its employees pay taxes, thereby contributing to Government revenue and increasing the national fiscus. Indirectly, the new business will also ease social pressures, as the new employees will no longer need to depend on the state for welfare benefits. Furthermore, the entrepreneur and employees will spend their income across a range of sectors, thus improving the country’s economic activity.”


Working closely with more than 8 000 businesses of all sizesacross South Africa, Old Mutual Corporate identified a unique opportunity to create a platform where a range of perspectives and insights could be shared. This saw the launch of the Old Mutual Corporate Wisdom Forum at the end of 2012. Since then clients and other stakeholders have been able to engage with local and international speakers on a wide range of business market issues.

This year’s theme was cultivating the next class of entrepreneurs. Providing an international perspective was:

  • Zev Siegl, entrepreneur and co-founder of Starbucks coffee,
  • Stephen Archer, Founding Partner of UK business strategy consultancy Spring Partnerships.

From South Africa and joining them for a panel discussion (pictured above) was:

  • Natasha Sideris, founder of Tasha’s, one of SAs hippest and most successful eateries; – Tashas,
  • Matsi Modise, Managing Director of Simodisa Association - an industry association committed to accelerating entrepreneurship.

Lerato Mbele, BBC World News presenter facilitated the panel discussion and was the MC for the night.

Chinaka summed it up: “By assisting entrepreneurs we enhance the efficiencies of markets and industries for the good of all South Africans.”

1 Statistics from the Banking Association South Africa:

Please visit our website for more information about the event as well as what each speaker had to say via podcasts or our Mindspace magazine: www.oldmutual.co.za/wisdomforum