By Petra Rees

LEAP, as an organisation embedded in providing Business Growth Solutions for Small to medium businesses, last month, along with the world, we celebrated the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). It is estimated that over 10 000 people participated in various events linked to this occasion across South Africa. The GEW was hosted in a record 167 countries globally with over 11 million people and thousands of events. Over 800 entrepreneurs attended the launch at IDC in Sandton and LEAP was there as well! We were proud to be invited to participate in the panel discussion on the topic “What works in accelerators and incubators in digital age” as one of the key experts.

LEAP prides itself to have pioneered a virtual back office support system 6 years ago using our infrastructure accessible online and telephonically to any entrepreneur anywhere in South Africa. Our 24/7 virtual business support services are on demand and range from legal, tax, HR, compliance, BEE, marketing and technology advisory to providing a virtual personal assistant and a procurement warehouse to a business owner. Coupled with the Business World, our trading platform (go to www.businessworld.co.za) giving entrepreneurs access to markets and leads, is another essential component of our services part of LEAP’s acceleration programmes!

Part of the panel discussion at the GEW launch event we have also discussed the exciting findings headed up by the Emory University in their recent report about accelerators globally. They surveyed companies who were part of a number of accelerators worldwide and those who were not. The survival rate of companies participating in an accelerator increased by 20% – a clear indication that accelerators have a good impact on businesses.  This discover was, not such a surprise to all of us – accelerators. There were some findings however, which highlighted what works really well and what accelerators should do more of (and LEAP is doing a lot of those – a positive sign for our content and programme development team) one of them being “Flip the classrooms”. Essentially, the key is to drop the classrooms and do more of mock-up board sessions with the entrepreneurs, and soft skills development including conversations and how to effectively write emails and proposals.

At LEAP we are planning to launch some new and exciting services in 2017 as well as revamping our existing ones to stay relevant for our entrepreneurs so we can make a positive and meaningful impact on their businesses. We will be sharing these with you as the year progresses.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy” – this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. is particularly appropriate for all of us in South Africa facing interesting times. We have just dodged the bullet of a potential downgrade to a junk status by S&P, Moody’s confirmed a negative outlook for Eskom and the GDP in the last quarter grew only by 0,2%! Yet, the entrepreneurs on our acceleration programmes push through – they invest and they build because they see opportunities others don’t (and also because they can’t help themselves – it’s part of their entrepreneurial DNA).As the country’s leading accelerator, we welcome all our SMME clients to embrace the digital age with us and we will reveal our new models around digital innovation and providing impactful soultions. For now, we are going to re-charge and we wish you all a very restful and merry festive season!

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