While many skills in South Africa are noteworthy of permits, in the sense that it would be good to allow them to set up home here in our beautiful country, one type of job is often overlooked: entrepreneurs.
In fact, it is the very entrepreneurs of this world that actually create jobs for others to fill, especially local talent. So why is there no programme to attract foreign entrepreneur skills in South Africa?
Recent research has shown that not only do entrepreneurial skills from abroad improve those of the native country, but also that job creation is built from the ground up – in the SMME (small, micro and medium enterprises) sector.
Chile has a programme, StartUpChile, specifically aimed at technological start-up companies. In this setup, entrepreneurs apply and pitch their ideas, and the top 100 or so receive $40,000 form the Chilean government. The only catch is not a catch at all – that the entrepreneurs build the companies in Chile and therefore employ local talent. Most often, the entrepreneur themselves is a very well-educated person, someone that can only add to the country in general. Chile has since seen unprecedented results, with their internet penetration now the highest in South America.
An example is Ardi Coetzee of South African e-commerce start-up EasiOnline.com, who hails from Namibia, and mentions that although he was involved in entrepreneurial projects back in his home country, there was no real pull to South Africa, other than a better economic landscape. When asked if he would have moved here quicker with a governmental grant, the answer is an emphatic yes.
It remains to be seen if South Africa’s immigration office can pull together some sort of campaign to bring these sought-after skills into our borders.