May 19, 2020

Are entrepreneurs playing their part in South Africa’s development?

SMEs
Business Partners Limited
South Africa
tourism
mahlokoane percy ngwato
3 min
Are entrepreneurs playing their part in South Africa’s development?

Economists rarely agree on a single opinion, but when it comes to entrepreneurs and small and SMEs in the economic development of a country, the consensus surround their ability to make a positive contribution is strong.

David Morobe, regional general manager of Business Partners Limited uses the terms “entrepreneur” and “SME” interchangeably, and said that although entrepreneurial individuals can be found in large corporations and in government, it is in SMEs that they are able to devout their resources to innovative thinking.

“The belief in their economic potency has spread so widely that often SMEs are seen as a ‘cure’ for the problems of unemployment. But this oversimplification is likely to stem from the fact that people don’t generally understand why or how entrepreneurs contribute to economic development,” said Morobe.

Over 60 percent of all new jobs in South Africa are created by SMEs, and more than half of all formal salaries and wages in South Africa are paid by these companies – their contribution to job creation is strong.
 

“These figures show that support for SMEs is one of the surest ways in which the main target of the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) – increased equality through inclusive economic growth – can be met by 2030.”

Morobe shared four ways in which entrepreneurs and SMEs contribute to the NDP goals. Firstly, they create new businesses. As South Africa moves toward a green economy, for example, it is usually the large investments such as the opening of a big solar panel plant that will make the headlines. But the real driving force that spreads the solar panels throughout the country are the thousands of SMEs that sell them to households and businesses, often in rural and under-serviced areas of the country, which in turn stimulates other businesses.

Morobe points to the tourism industry, one of the priority industries identified by government, as another example of how SMEs drive economic development through business creation. “Many small towns in South Africa, where large hotel groups won’t invest, have instead been turned into tourist meccas by pioneering small bed-and-breakfast businesses, small tour operators and events companies. The cascading effect is well documented as the tourists whom they attract spend money on local crafts, food and services.”

Secondly, SMEs fill the gaps. “Every dollar that an SME entices from a tourist’s pocket, every solar panel that is sold, every transaction created by SMEs all add to South Africa’s GDP. The taxes generated by new SMEs also means more resources flow into government’s redistributive and development projects, such as education.”
 

Thirdly, said Morobe, through pioneering new and better ways of doing things, entrepreneurs influence social change in their communities. “The radical effect that start-ups, such as Google and Uber, have had on the world are well known. Locally, innovations driven by SMEs may be on a smaller scale, but they have a similar effect on the lives of South Africans.”

SMEs also inspire entrepreneurial culture development. “Through their example, SMEs show communities that it is possible to self-start, to solve problems, to create wealth through service, and to impart knowledge to the workers they train. Incrementally, they are moving South African communities away from the idea of dependency on handouts and dead-end jobs, to one in which self-employment is a real and even the preferred alternative,” said Morobe.
 

African Business Review’s April issue is now live.

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Jun 14, 2021

5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly

Tapoly
Insurance
Leadership
Digital
Kate Birch
3 min
Heading up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy is winning awards and leading with diversity

Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.

Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills. 

What do you do, in a nutshell?

I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.

How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?

I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.

They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?

The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless. 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.

 

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