The 21st annual Business Opportunities and Franchise Expo (BOFE), staged in Johannesburg last week, attracted over 10,000 aspiring and established entrepreneurs, as well as students and delegates from countries across Africa, to discover a range of business opportunities and services available to them.

As a critical way to curb unemployment, entrepreneurship not only enables wealth generation for business owners, but presents an opportunity for them to become employers as their businesses grow. BOFE, seeking to go beyond simply presenting a wealth of new business opportunities, also offers would-be entrepreneurs in-depth workshops and training on business management and development strategies at the Watt-A-Buzz Zone, where this year, over 8251 visitors and around 1500 students were able to benefit from expert insights into opening and running a business.

Speaking at BOFE 2014, the Honourable Deputy Minister of South Africa’s new Small Business Development Ministry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, stressed the need for South Africa to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurs from school level. “We have a society of job seekers and we need to develop a society of job creators and entrepreneurs,” she said, adding that the establishment of links between big and small business was also critical for SMME success.

BOFE and presenting partner Eskom are increasingly targeting learners in their educational programmes, in a bid to upskill the next generation of working adults. Eskom notes that youths have long been a focus of its Eskom Development Foundation work. In line with this goal, the national Eskom Simama Ranta Enterprise Education Competition, tied in to BOFE, showcases a variety of business models to South African learners and offers them comprehensive, quality entrepreneurship education. By participating in Simama Ranta it is hoped that these learners will consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path and in turn contribute to creating a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa. This year, over 20000 learners from some 2500 schools across SA participated in this year’s Simama Ranta programme.

Eskom Development Foundation CEO Haylene Liberty-Nel explains: “Eskom’s school programme promotes the South African government’s economic development agenda and aims to stimulate economic growth by encouraging learners to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice – and become creators of jobs rather than only job seekers. The clubs that have participated this year show that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well among South Africa’s youth.”

Eskom is partnering with event organisers Thebe Reed Exhibitions to extend the impact of BOFE by creating the premier business opportunity marketplace, starting from youth development through Eskom’s Simama Ranta School enterprise education project to offer effective business management and support services, as well as showcasing services for established entrepreneurs; and large and small business and franchise opportunities for those who want to start their own business or diversity their business investment portfolios. It also serves as a hub for procurement buyers to source BEE partners. In addition to its youth entrepreneurship focus, Eskom also runs a Business Investment Competition aiming to encourage the growth of small business and drive economic growth by rewarding small business who are doing outstanding work. The competition invites registered, South African, black-owned enterprises that have been operating for more than 24 months to enter.

A broad spectrum of businesses got a boost from the opportunities on show, as well as from the information shared and contacts made. Mrs Martha Pobee, the Deputy High Commissioner of Ghana in SA, declared herself very impressed with the show, which is also set to go to Ghana in 2015. Exhibitors said the show had been a boost for their business too. Jo-Ann Auret of ADT said: “It’s been phenomenal.  We secured nearly 200 quality contacts and met a number of potential clients. We even managed to sell alarm installations on-site. Even though we advertise everywhere we’ve managed to get more leads in the past four days than in all the months of advertising combined.”

Yolandi Ferreira of Taste Holdings noted: “We have been very busy. People want information about franchising, and we are able to advise them, which was one of our goals.”

And Richy Moyo of ChesaNyama enthused: “This year visitors were more engaging and interactive. They wanted knowledge and asked the right questions. We are definitely coming back next year. You should do this expo three times a year.”

The next BOFE will be staged from 10 – 13 September, 2015, at the Coca Cola dome in North Riding. The event offers would-be business and franchise owners and investors a broad range of business opportunities, and delivers a willing audience and excellent leads to exhibitors. For more information, go to www.bofe.co.za

Issued by ITP Communications (Pty) Ltd on behalf of Thebe Reed Exhibitions

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