Mayor Mashaba welcomes world’s entrepreneurs to Jozi
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba today (Tuesday March 14) welcomed more than 4 000 delegates to the ninth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) at the Sandton Convention Centre, saying it was a pleasure for the City to be hosting such “a prestigious event”.
This is the first time that the congress – a gathering of the world’s start-up champions, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, researchers, visitors and policymakers – is held on African soil since its inception about eight years ago.
It has previously been held in the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia and Italy.
Mayor Mashaba, an entrepreneur himself told the delegates that Johannesburg was known as the City of golden opportunities, where people came to seek better lives for their families.
“We pride ourselves in being a city of firsts in a number of events and activities. We are pleased to be the first African city to host this great event, which plays host to more than 160 countries and thousands of leaders from across the globe,” Cllr Mashaba said.
He said it was in events like these that people could find solutions to global problems.
The theme of this year’s congress is “Digital Disruption”.
This, Mashaba said, resonated with the City of Johannesburg’s smart city vision, which is aimed at taking advantage of the opportunities of an increasingly digitised and connected world.
“Already we have rolled out free Wi-Fi, which allows communities and businesses to embrace the new digital era,” said Mashaba.
He said the City had partnered with Wits University to use information and communication technology (ICT) to find solutions to the challenges the City was faced with.
“Johannesburg remains significant to our country because of its complex history and its potential to not only contributes greatly to South Africa’s future but also to the future of the African continent as a whole,” said Mashaba.
He said he believed young entrepreneurs would take South Africa to new heights and play a pivotal role in creating employment for other people.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that we create an environment that will enable these businesses to succeed,” said Mashaba.
Having come a long way, from being a young entrepreneur to businessman and now Mayor of Johannesburg, Mashaba said he was fortunate to be in a position in which he could actively find ways to better the lives of the youth.
“I am committed to running a pro-poor and responsive government while embracing the private sector. In fact, the two must go hand in hand if we want to create jobs for our people and open up opportunities to them,” said Mashaba.
He added that the City had set itself a target to achieve 5% economic growth by 2021.
He said, however, that meeting this target would require the government and business sector to work together and understanding that failure to kick-start the Johannesburg economy would have dire implications even beyond the borders of South Africa.