Hein Boegman, Territory Senior Partner, South Africa, PwC

Sponsor foreword

Private companies, in particular those exhibiting growth and innovation, are a crucial yet often underrepresented element of economic development. In Africa, where job creation, inclusive growth, industrialisation and beneficiation have become non-negotiable, it is important to nurture and support private companies, recognising them for what they have achieved and what they can contribute to society.

Examples abound of companies that grew from small beginnings to become global or regional leaders. Key elements of their success have been strong visionary leadership combined with intimate knowledge of local conditions and the ability to leverage key relationships. Other pivotal elements are government policy that is conducive to sustainable economic activity and access to affordable funding.

In addition to focused governmental support, the private sector can and should play a greater role in growth and economic development across Africa. Besides seed capital, support in terms of working capital funding and management is key, and funders, businesses and independent service providers can all help to find innovative solutions.

“The private sector can and should play a greater role in growth and economic development across Africa”

While government-sponsored programmes remain essential in advancing the success of private companies in Africa, these programmes often fall short or are slow in delivering the skills required to support, assess and monitor deserving business cases. Partnerships with independent service providers and funders are needed to fill this gap.

Phased funding from government-sponsored programmes should be accelerated, linking funding to key milestones where viable. Professionally and independently managed focused funds, with government funding as the cornerstone, can also attract private and sovereign-type funding akin to private equity and development funding models.

Programmes such as these could harness the power of the many global entities seeking to develop business coverage across Africa by supporting partnerships between them and local entrepreneurs, provided that the essential ingredients of employment creation, inclusive and sustainable growth, governance, skills development and industrialisation exist, and that commitments in this regard are adequately monitored.

The future of Africa and its economies depends on strong support for private companies by governments, combined with access to growth funding, the eradication of trade barriers and sometimes crippling bureaucracy, and skills development. Private companies, in turn, need to focus on increased transparency and governance, developing skills, and leveraging their contribution to the economy through taxes to strengthen their case for support.

Hein Boegman, Territory Senior Partner, South Africa, PwC