“Entrepreneurs have a passion, spark, flavour and drive that education can’t give,” according to Martin Ackerman, CFO of Thevia. Thevia is an innovative green economy company that manufactures roof tiles that are made from 99% waste materials.

Ackerman was speaking to small business owners at the 2017 SMME Opportunity Roadshow, which kicked off with a bang in Gauteng on 20 April 2017.

Now in its third year, the 2017 Roadshow opener was attended by over 450 delegates, including SMME owners, corporates and funding agencies.

“The small business sector has huge potential to address the key priorities of government,” said Mandy Mtyelwa of the Department of Science and Technology. Mtyelwa added that SMMEs are the agency for economic growth and further reiterated that, in order to improve South Africa, the country needs “a transition from a mineral-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, which entails improving the quality, quantity and access to information”.

One of the key sponsors of the Roadshow is Old Mutual and they are committed to the growth of small businesses throughout South Africa.

“The SMME Opportunity Roadshow gives entrepreneurs the chance to learn from, and connect with, experienced entrepreneurs who faced the same challenges as they do and excelled in their business and life. In addition to being a great networking opportunity, the Roadshow educates entrepreneurs on how to grow their business, recognise and seize opportunities, and protect their income,” said Old Mutual’s Personal Finance Head of Marketing, Ntombekaya Tisani.

The SMME Opportunity Roadshow was created to empower growth in small, sustainable businesses in support of the national government’s drive create job opportunities and boost the economy. Industry experts in finance, strategic management, tendering and marketing shared their knowledge and insight with delegates at the Roadshow.

“What young people need to empower them for business is skills and a change of mentality,” said Happy Phaleng from OUT (an LBGT community organization), adding that young people should not limit their personal growth by thinking that they can only get skills by going to college.

Phaleng’s views were reiterated by social entrepreneur Masonwabe Fuma, the President at Enactus University of Johannesburg. “When you become an entrepreneur, you get the mindset of solving problems – and as you solve problems you create jobs,” said Fuma.

The commitment of public and private organisations to the Roadshow was confirmed by Tessa Cooke, Marketing Manager of Roadshow sponsors Datsun, who highlighted the fact that they are “always on the look-out for partnerships aimed at improving and enabling the SME sector, so we are proud to be part of the SMME Opportunity Roadshow 2017”.

The importance of growth in the SMME sector has been highlighted by the Minister of Small Business Development, Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who stated that small businesses need to contribute at least 800 000 jobs a year to match the government’s goal of creating 11 million jobs by 2030.

The SMME Opportunity Roadshow moves on to Port Elizabeth (on 19 May), Durban (19 July) and Cape Town (6 September).

To find out more about the event, please visit http://www.smmesa.co.za/. Remember to follow SMME Opportunity Roadshow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/smmeor/ and on Twitter @SMME_Roadshow. You can also watch the live-stream on www.capemedia.tv, so you need not miss out on any of the action.