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Entrepreneurs key to economic growth

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Research has found that entrepreneurship is an essential driver of a country’s economy. As a result, focus is increasingly being placed on those brave individuals starting entrepreneurial businesses by governments around the world in order to nurture the growth of these companies.
However, the challenges associated with starting and running a business often result in the failure of what should have been a successful company – despite government initiatives to assist entrepreneurs. According to Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of The Extension, these challenges are largely systemic, and easily overcome with the right support.

“Support in the form of mentoring, infrastructure, and training is hard to come by for entrepreneurs, who spend most of their time trying to get their businesses off the ground and keep them running. With the right levels of support, a one-man company can become the next big South African success story,” he says.

“The Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI), which measures entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world, found that South Africa lacks start-up skills, human capital, and risk capital, and yet our entrepreneurship ranking is 52nd out of 130 countries. With increased support in these and other vital areas, local entrepreneurship could grow exponentially.”

He adds that, while government initiatives such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency are invaluable, they do not reach many of the entrepreneurs they were designed to assist. What’s needed, Campbell-Young says, is an entrepreneurial approach to supporting entrepreneurs.

“The entrepreneur’s job is not to take an idea and then implement it. That is what franchisees do. The entrepreneur is building something that is entirely new – by constantly creating and testing and recreating and then testing and recreating again. This requires not only basic infrastructure in the form of premises and an Internet connection, but funding, mentoring, and opportunity creation.

“It was this in mind that The Extension was formed,” he says. “The Extension is more than a hot desk solution for small businesses, and rather focuses on providing a complete ecosystem designed to help entrepreneurship grow.”

Offering flexible month by month terms, small business owners can choose an alternative to the traditional long lease office with The Extension’s studio hot desk solution. Not only does it provide infrastructure and IT support, but a network of business experts and angel investors that can assist entrepreneurs in taking their business to the next level.

“The concept has evolved into an entire ecosystem where we are not only seeing our entrepreneurs grow their businesses through the opportunities they access through The Extension, but also through an organic collaboration that takes place between different companies who share a space.

“By enabling a flexible environment that provides the different kinds of support entrepreneurs need, The Extension is helping to create the next generation of South African business,” Campbell-Young says.