From Medellin to Johannesburg


The annual Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC 2016) kicked-off in Medellin, Colombia on 14 March 2017. The GEC is the largest gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, innovators and government ministers from around the world. The congress brings together more than 6500 delegates from 160 countries. The theme for this year’s congress was ‘The Business of Next’, and the theme speaks to improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem towards adapting to changes in the business environment, innovative solutions and investments.

The GEC will grace the African continent for the first time at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from the 13-17 March 2017.

The business sector, education and government leaders have been eager champions, but they need more sophisticated tools, programs and research to help them direct their attention and funds to areas with the greatest impact on future economic growth and trends. The GEC helps address these needs by identifying effective initiatives – in all types of economies, across the macro or micro level; advanced or emerging – that positively impact entrepreneurial eco-systems around the world.

Speaking during the transition ceremony, GEC President Jonathan Ortmans, said “GEC 2017 is just one example of the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s commitment to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs start and scale – rebranding the continent and permanently shifting perceptions around the world. We look forward to coming to South Africa.”

The successful GEC bid has been a collaborative partnership between SEA Africa, the Department of Small Business Development, City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, ABSA and Transnet. The South African delegation in Colombia have hosted 50 key global stakeholders in Medellin to present the roadmap to the GEC 2017 South Africa.

South Africa’s Minister for Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, said “Participating in global community strengthens the SME sector through understanding how different entrepreneurial ecosystems operate, learn best practices and how tools may be used to improve domestic markets. Given the constraints faced by the South African economy a significant boost in SME sector is required to address the current low growth projections and high unemployment especially amongst the youth. The GEC will provide insight on best practices, which we will localise, for the South African market. I am further encouraged that South Africa’s delegation will also use the opportunity to spark networks and create strategic conversations with global investors in preparation for Africa’s GEC in 2017.”