On the 26th of April 2016, the Cape Town branch of African Students For Liberty hosted five entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss whether the government was helping or hindering South Africa’s entrepreneurs. The event took place Tuesday evening in a lecture theatre at the University of Cape Town.
The event was run in tandem with the Rising Tide Foundation essay contest, with panelists offering insight into answering the question for students writing their essays. Ineng helped organise the event, by connecting ASFL with some of the panelists.
First on the panel was Garreth Bloor, a Cape Town city councillor experienced in both the private and public sector. Garreth is a big friend of entrepreneurs and discussed how the government holds back entrepreneurs through regulation and an unwillingness to allow entrepreneurs ownership over their property.
Guy Harris, an entrepreneur, spoke about the need to turn our “wineglass economy into a tumbler”. He highlighted how our government has been doing a disservice not to instil entrepreneurship and valuable skills into students.
Grant Jackson, another entrepreneur, provided insight into the additional barriers and challenges to entrepreneurs as well as some solutions to the problems entrepreneurs face.
James Mittan, also an entrepreneur, discussed how the state fails to help entrepreneurs get their projects off the ground and that most entrepreneurs have to rely on venture capital or hard work. He also discussed how his product, Honest Abe, helps entrepreneurs get off the ground.
Finally, Sheraan Amod discussed how the attempts made by government to help entrepreneurs tend to distort the market and actually fail to help entrepreneurs at the end of the day. He is a self-ascribed libertarian, and called for the government to get out of the way of entrepreneurs who are trying to solve society’s problems.
The meat of the event was in the debate that followed the panel, with the audience and panel engaging in a discussion on what policies they think should be removed, how the land issue should be approached to encourage entrepreneurship through ownership, how traditional leaders are a barrier to families owning land and progressing financially, how policy makers tend to misunderstand basic economic principles and ultimately how the government has failed to help our entrepreneurs – ultimately answering the question of the evening.
The general consensus of the evening was that government needs to get out of the way. Their job is to create an enabling and safe environment for entrepreneurs – something that they have failed to do in South Africa. Socialist and Communist ideologies, which unfortunately dominate our government’s higher echelons, are economically unsound, and this contributes to market distortion and, ultimately, destructive polices that wreck our economy and hurt entrepreneurs.
South Africa’s capacity to achieve a desired future is in its ability to enable entrepreneurs to engage in the market and start producing wealth for themselves and their families. Ultimately, the government cannot create wealth – only the private sector can.