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All posts by Stephen Timm

Stephen Timm
Stephen Timm writes on small business in emerging economies through his regular blog Small Business Insight. Follow him on Twitter at @Smallbinsight and on Facebook.
  • SA insurtech Investsure in R9.6m round from 4Di, Lireas Holdings, Compass Insure

    SA insurtech InvestSure announced today that the company has completed their first funding round – securing R9.6-million from Hannover Re Africa subsidiaries Lireas Holdings and Compass Insure, and venture capital firm 4Di Capital. The funding announcement follows two years of incubation that the startup received from Compass Insure. Investsure has created what it claims is a world first -- insurance that protects innocent shareholders from loss caused by allegations of management fraud and dishonesty. The startup, which was founded in 2017 by Mbulelo Mpofana, Ignatious Nkwinika and Shane Curran, said in a statement today that the funding will help expand the business...

  • Here’s what we can learn from Malaysia’s sudden startup decline

    While more Brazilians than ever are starting up new businesses, on the other side of the globe in Malaysia, the number of start-ups has hit rock bottom, shows a new survey. The south-east Asian country's fall may say something about entrepreneurship. ​The 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey released last week shows that the number of people starting new businesses climbed in a number of emerging economies last year (see Graph 1) including in South Africa, where it rose from seven precent to 9.2%. ​The 2015 report represents the 17th year that GEM has tracked entrepreneurship across various countries. The latest...

  • What does India’s $1.5bn Action Plan really mean for startups?

    Startups in India can expect a significant boost following the announcement by the country's prime minister Narendra Modi of new support for the sector. But will these really help lift startups? The measures which were announced by Modi at the launch of Start-Up India in Delhi on Saturday. They form part of a government action plan to assist the country's growing number of tech startups, described as firms of less than five years old and with annual sales of up to US$3.6-million. String of measures They include a three-year tax exemption for startups, a three-year exemption from a string of labour and...

  • Axing of finance minister – SMEs in SA to lose big

    South African small businesses are likely to lose more than they gain from President Jacob Zuma's axing of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene. While Nene's axing will likely hasten South Africa's economic slide - with the currency hitting R15.29 on the news of his firing on Wednesday - it could also open the door for a significant amount of state spending to be channelled to small businesses. The National Treasury has long been against set-asides (see this earlier post). Telling is that it has held off issuing a practice note to effect Zuma's announcement in February that the government would source 30%...

  • Does positive sentiment towards entrepreneurship mean more startups? Not quite

    Last week saw thousands of people take part in events around the world during Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). But a growing positivity towards entrepreneurship doesn't necessarily translate into more startups. Since it started in 2008 GEW has grown to become one of the largest entrepreneurship events with its initiators, the Kauffman Foundation, predicting about 10 million people from 160 countries would take part in this year’s event -- which ran from 16 to 22 November. The event aims to promote entrepreneurship, and in so doing make it a more attractive career choice. SA paradox In a number of countries entrepreneurship has steadily become...

  • SA small business to face tough 2016 if opportunities overlooked

    South African small businesses can expect a tough 2016, but there remain opportunities for those willing to search them out. In a presentation delivered yesterday at Property Point's To The Point session, Small Business Insight’s Stephen Timm (pictured above), joined by policy expert Septi Bukula of Osiba Management, outlined some trends SMEs can expect next year. Property Point is property group Growthpoint's supplier development programme. The seminar was held at the Southern Sun Hotel in Hyde Park in Johannesburg. Constrained outlook The National Treasury last month said the economy is set to grow at 1.7% next year, after an expected growth of just...

  • Where does small business fit into SA’s budget policy?

    Is South Africa's National Treasury trying to bury a pledge that President Jacob Zuma made in February that 30% of state procurement would be set aside for small businesses? The Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu said in her budget vote speech in May that she expected the National Treasury to release a practice note on the set-aside by September this year. But the practice note, which would detail to supply chain officials in the public sector how the set-aside would function, has not been released yet. No mention in speech And yesterday during his medium-term budget policy statement in...

  • India poised to become world’s next startup nation

    If India is to follow Israel and the US to become the world’s next great startup nation, it must do much more to vamp up internet access and cut choking red tape both of which do little to encourage entrepreneurship. India is still coasting on a high following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Silicon Valley last weekend. While there he interacted with entrepreneurs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla’s Elon Musk. The release of the latest Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum on Tuesday is an added boost -- India has risen an impressive 16 places to...

  • How the SA government is trying to seed more startups

    The South African government has quietly been piloting a new seed-funding programme and has wisely teamed up with universities to do so. A new call closes on 2 October. The programme, which the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pando said in July was still in the pilot stage, was launched two years ago by the long embattled Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). The seed fund is welcome news from an agency that has suffered from the departure of key staff and one having to deal with a recent budget cut. South African entrepreneurs with good ideas are badly in need...

  • How much can SA’s Gazelles programme really help high-growth businesses?

    The launch this week by the Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu of the National Gazelles initiative means the South African government will finally be supporting high-growth businesses. But will it work? The initiative may be a chance for the department, launched last year, to make an impact on small business development. When small business fell under the Department of Trade and Industry, the department’s frank minister Rob Davies admitted that the government had been less than successful in supporting small businesses. How it will work The new programme -- devised by Thami Mazwai of Mtiya Dynamics and Martin Feinstein of Traction -- will...

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