A new year brings with it new opportunities and 2015 offers both established and aspiring entrepreneurs multiple business prospects to capitalise on due to the various challenges South Africa has had to overcome in 2014, or continues to battle in 2015.
This is according to Christo Botes, spokesperson for the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, who says that the challenges the country currently faces, such as the weakened rand and poor infrastructure, has provided gaps in various sectors for entrepreneurs to capitalise upon. “While the problems the country has had to face over the last year, from water and power shortages, are negative, these issues also provide opportunities in the market for entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
“Entrepreneurs don’t fit into a structure. They are agile, versatile and quick decision makers. They are the first movers and have the ability to quickly capitalise on new opportunities, or market gaps, and turn a bad situation into a positive outcome,” says Botes.
Botes points to a few sectors that he views as providing significant opportunities for entrepreneurs in 2015:
Both Government and the private sector have allocated large budgets to improve this sector. More franchises are increasingly being established, especially Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges (formerly known as Further Education and Training (FET) colleges), due to the demand for such facilities and skills in the country. One of the known listed groups in the education and training arena, ADvTECH, recently announced their acquisition of the Maravest Group, and as a result is now expected to grow their student base by 70% in 2015. This business, together with the Curro model, an Independent Education company that provides affordable private schooling from pre-schools through to tertiary education level, are proving that there is a dire need and still some further niche markets to be serviced in the marketplace.
While the sector will continue to offer opportunities in 2015, entrepreneurs should be exploring export orientated manufacturing. Government offers attractive incentives, such as rebates and tax deductions, for component manufacturing, as well as an entrepreneur’s ability to develop overseas markets for such products.
As an example, in the automotive industry, vehicle brands, such as Mercedes, Toyota, VW, BMW and Ford, are being exported in greater quantities from South Africa, and this has led to a growing supply chain that can offer new opportunities. Local businesses are also increasing the manufacturing of vehicle components for brands manufactured elsewhere in the world, and thus becoming part of these countries’ supply chains. There are many other industries also offering such opportunities which entrepreneurs can explore.
While manufacturing should be export orientated due to the weak rand, entrepreneurs should take advantage of this in the tourism sector due to foreign tourists benefiting from the favourable exchange rate.
Business tourism is increasingly growing in attractiveness due to South Africa being recognised as the gateway to Africa, and due to the weak rand, savvy entrepreneurs can capitalise on the country being a fairly cheap destination to host international conferences, when compared to some of the more established / traditional conference destinations. In terms of vocation tourism, there is a growing opportunity to market the region as a destination and offer attractive all-inclusive deals with various airlines, hotel groups and different cities and resorts around South Africa, as well as the Southern African Development Community region.
While at a low base due to the labour disputes encountered over the last 18 months, the sector has recently experienced an increase in expenditure on capital programmes, especially in coal mines as older mines’ reserves are shrinking and coming increasingly under pressure to supply more coal to our mainly coal fired electricity generating power stations. This offers a myriad of opportunities for entrepreneurs in primary and secondary supply chains, such as shops and other infrastructure that is needed in the area where the mines are being developed and/or redeveloped.
Infrastructure at large
Government, at all levels, is investing in upgrading services and facilities and smaller contractors should seek ways to get involved in the various scheduled projects. Apart from low-cost housing, basic services, such as water, electricity, sewage plants, as well as repairs and upgrades to Government buildings and recreation sites, are needed in cities and towns across the country.
It is reported that the country’s next big crisis is water and much is needed to not only conserve water, but also to upgrade the existing poor infrastructure, which is under severe pressure due to old pipes bursting underground.
Botes encourages entrepreneurs across the country to explore these opportunities. “Established entrepreneurs may be drawn to a new opportunity due to his or her very nature of continually seeking new opportunities, or a hunger to be the ‘first mover’. These shifts in the economy however also offer aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to enter the market by identifying these gaps and then capitalising on the idea.
“Those entrepreneurs that take initiative will not only create wealth for themselves, but they would also be investing in South Africa’s economic development and job creation,” concludes Botes.