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Entrepreneurs flood BEFE
In 2014, the 21st annual Business Entrepreneurship and Franchise Expo (BEFE), staged in Johannesburg in September, attracted some 10,000 aspiring and established entrepreneurs, as well as students and delegates from countries across Africa, to discover a range of business opportunities and services available to them.
As a critical way to curb unemployment, entrepreneurship not only enables wealth generation for business owners, but presents an opportunity for them to become employers as their businesses grow. BEFE, seeking to go beyond simply presenting a wealth of new business opportunities, also offers would-be entrepreneurs in-depth workshops and training on business management and development strategies at its Watt-A-Buzz Zone, where this year, over 8251 visitors and around 1500 learners were able to benefit from expert insights into opening and running a business.
Speaking at BEFE 2014, the Deputy Minister of South Africa’s new Small Business Development Ministry, the Honourable Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, stressed the need for South Africa to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurs from school level. “We have a society of job seekers and we need to develop a society of job creators and entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that the establishment of links between big and small business was also critical for SMME success.     
BEFE and presenting partner Eskom are increasingly targeting learners in their educational programmes, in a bid to upskill the next generation of working adults. Eskom notes that youths have long been a focus of its Eskom Development Foundation work. In line with this goal, the national Eskom Simama Ranta Enterprise Education Competition, tied in to BEFE, showcases a variety of business models to South African learners and offers them comprehensive, quality entrepreneurship education. By participating in Simama Ranta it is hoped that these learners will consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path and in turn contribute to creating a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa.
Eskom Development Foundation CEO Haylene Liberty-Nel explains: “Eskom’s school programme promotes the South African government’s economic development agenda and aims to stimulate economic growth by encouraging learners to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice – and become creators of jobs rather than only job seekers. The clubs that have participated this year show that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well among South Africa’s youth.”
Eskom is partnering with event organisers Thebe Reed Exhibitions to extend the impact of BEFE by creating the premier African Business Opportunity Marketplace, starting from youth development through Eskom’s Simama Ranta School enterprise education project to offer effective business management and support services, as well as showcasing services for established entrepreneurs; and large and small business and franchise opportunities for those who want to start their own business or diversity their business investment portfolios. It also serves as a hub for procurement buyers to source BEE partners. In addition to its youth entrepreneurship focus, Eskom also runs a Business Investment Competition aiming to encourage the growth of small business and drive economic growth by rewarding small business who are doing outstanding work. The competition invites registered, South African, black-owned enterprises that have been operating for more than 24 months to enter.
The event offers would-be business and franchise owners and investors a broad range of business opportunities, and delivers a willing audience and excellent leads to exhibitors. For more information, go to