The Inaugural South African Future Trust Summit launches to acclaim from entrepreneurs

Delegates welcome a forum designed to be an accelerator for local SMMEs.

The inaugural South African Future Trust Summit, a transformative two-day event crafted to support and enable entrepreneurs, has been launched to acclaim from delegates. The summit, which is being held at Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, features more than 20 experts from different fields and has been designed as an accelerator to assist entrepreneurs on their journeys to success.

The opening address was delivered by Jonathan Oppenheimer of the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation, which donated R1-billion to establish the SA Future Trust in 2020. Initially set up to champion, support and enable small, medium and micro enterprises during the pandemic, it is now focusing its resources on empowering and enabling SMMEs on an ongoing basis.

“Everything on the agenda of this first summit is designed to foster a profound understanding of the dynamic local business landscape and empower delegates to harness its potential,” he said. “Our aim in establishing this platform is to catalyse change by facilitating insightful interactions with people who are actively shaping and contributing to the local ecosystem – and to inspire entrepreneurs to embark on transformative journeys that will have a tangible impact on their businesses and the economy as a whole.”

Jonathan Oppenheimer with delegates at the South African Future Trust Summit

Oppenheimer’s opening remarks were followed by the first keynote address of the day. Titled Manage Your Power and Unleash Africa’s Potential, it was presented by Siya Xuza, the founder and CEO of Galactic Energy Holdings, an investment company focused on meeting energy needs in emerging markets. A scientist, energy expert, entrepreneur and Harvard engineering graduate, Xuza was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in 2017 for his contributions to science and is a poster child for the potential of local entrepreneurship.

After regaling the audience with the tale of how, as a youngster, he blew up his mother’s kitchen while trying to build a rocket that would take him to Jupiter, he emphasised that failures like these are learning opportunities. He said they help one to define a higher purpose that endures through good times and bad – and enable one to see opportunities even in the midst of challenges.

Our aim at this summit is to help harness the spirit of South African entrepreneurship because we know that investing in and supporting SMMEs is investing in the people of South Africa and the development of the country.

Delegates at the South African Future Trust Summit
Graça Machel and Jonathan Oppenheimer

“SMMEs have taken up their rightful place in the business landscape,” he said in an interview prior to the presentation. “Not only are they the engines of job creation worldwide and a keystone in securing socio-economic development and sustainability, they are also at the forefront of some of the most exciting innovations of our time. Our aim at this summit is to help harness the spirit of South African entrepreneurship because we know that investing in and supporting SMMEs is investing in the people of South Africa and the development of the country.”

The following session was devoted to the launch of a new initiative that is being offered in partnership with the Trust. Calvin Collett, the founder and CEO of Melon Mobile, announced the launch of Melon Business, which will offer SMMEs a range of services to manage mobile usage in their businesses. This comes just six months after Melon Mobile entered the highly competitive mobile sector with a new, consumer-centric business model.

GG Alcock, CEO of Minanawe Marketing

Next up was the second of the three keynote addresses for the day. Titled The Kasinomics Revolution, it was presented by GG Alcock, the founder and leader of Minanawe Marketing, a premium events and activations agency focused on the mass market. Alcock covered a number of inspiring case studies drawn from his deep experience of the African market as well as strategies that resonate with both local and global audiences.

“Insight into entrepreneurial success stories is both uplifting and informative,” he said. “They give local entrepreneurs examples of the potential inherent in entrepreneurship – and offer models they can draw on in their own businesses.”

Closely linked to this topic was the launch of a solution to help entrepreneurs leverage their title deeds to unlock business opportunities. Announcing the new solution, Ashleigh Fynn Munda, Head of Philanthropies at Oppenheimer Generations, said that the Trust will be partnering with the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), the Tenure Support Centre (TSC) and the research consultancy 71point4, to help entrepreneurs leverage the value of their fixed assets. This will, for example, enable them to build rental accommodation on their properties, unlocking as much as R546-billion in asset value.

Ashleigh Fynn Munda, Head of Philanthropies at Oppenheimer Generations at the South African Future Trust Summit

A number of breakaway, networking and discussion sessions were held during the course of the day, including two of four masterclasses on the summit’s agenda. Titled Harmony in the Hustle: Mental and Health Wellbeing in Business, presented by Richard Sutton, founder and CEO of the leading global business health and performance consultancy, Sutton Health. He noted that, whatever challenges we may face, all of us are capable of leading extraordinary lives and should not be bound by limitations, whether self-imposed or external.

The second masterclass, The Six Deadly Business Sins was presented by public speaker and author Richard Mulholland.

Richard Sutton


Richard Mulholland

The third keynote address, entitled Solar Energy and its Power in Rural Africa, was presented by Sivan Yaari. Yaari is a trailblazing entrepreneur and philanthropist who is well known for her transformative work in sustainable development across the African continent. She is the founder and CEO of an NPO called Innovation: Africa, which has completed over 900 solar energy projects in rural villages since 2008.

“Lack of access to electricity and clean water remains one of the most pressing development challenges in Africa today,” she said, “and entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in helping to change this scenario.”

Jonathan Oppenheimer and Sivan Yaari

The Trust also took the opportunity to launch the South African Future Trust Awards, which will recognise and reward the spirit of entrepreneurship in South Africa and offer prizes to the value of R3-million.

The winner of the first category – for the best implementation of the summit playbook – will receive a prize to the value of R500 000. This will consist of a cash injection of R250 000 to foster immediate business growth and a support package to the same value. The package will include mentorship from seasoned industry leaders, cutting-edge hardware and other essential resources that will enable the recipient to scale their operations and accelerate their business trajectory.

The second day of the summit featured Bruce Whitfield, who talked about How to Thrive at the Edge of Chaos and Bronwyn Williams, who delivered a keynote address entitled The Future of Us

Wrapping the masterclass series, Chairperson and founder of IDF Capital Polo Leteka led Investor Ready: Building a Business That Attracts Capital aimed to help entrepreneurs unlock the secret to scaling their businesses, while tech innovator Adam Pantanowitz will present Innovate or Stagnate: Fit For Purpose Tech sharing insights on how to leverage cutting-edge technology to transform business.

Adam Pantanowitz

The event closed with an address by globally recognised expert on disruptive technology, innovation and exponential leadership, David Roberts, who took South African business leaders and entrepreneurs through what it takes to become an exponential leader. This was a fitting end to what is set to become the premier business leadership and learning gathering for SMMEs in South Africa.

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