“We need to grow the economy and create jobs,” he said. “In this context, the role of small business is critical. Entrepreneurs – men and women who create new businesses specifically to satisfy needs they identify in their environment – need to be encouraged, assisted and rewarded.”
Entrepreneurship and the growth of small business cannot happen in isolation. It needs to be the product of a helpful business and regulatory environment. “Setting up a small business should be relatively easy. Red tape needs to be minimized. Access to finance should be easier. Providing potential entrepreneurs with management, marketing, financial and administrative skills should happen more readily,” stressed Sunter.
“One of the characteristics of South African business over the decades has been the emergence of many outstanding entrepreneurial business leaders, from the early twentieth century mining trailblazers to amazing modern leaders like Adrian Gore and Elon Musk, to name just two. There is no reason why there should not be many more such entrepreneurs. They just need to be given the right environment,” he said.
Rewarding entrepreneurial spirit and success is essential. “Starting a successful business is often reward in itself, but companies need to reward entrepreneurship within their own ranks as well. Creative and innovative employees need to be recognised and rewarded. Usually, the growth of a business comes from the innovative skills of a handful of entrepreneurial employees within its ranks. These people need to be nurtured and rewarded.”
As an international consulting firm that focuses on strategy, innovation, operational excellence and change management, one of BMGI’s core areas of expertise is the management of innovation, a key success factor for companies operating in an environment where change is happening at an increasingly rapid rate.
BMGI consultant Dimitri Markoulides shared the podium with Sunter at the event. “Companies need to focus on innovation as an important corporate philosophy and skill. Not all people are naturally creative and innovative, but, in many cases, both companies and individuals can be taught to be innovative.
BMGI is currently rolling out South Africa’s first formal Innovation Champion Programme, which provides individuals with the skills necessary to manage the innovation process within a company. “The Innovation Champion is the individual within the company tasked with driving the process forward. We have shown that the course builds competency and equips the Innovation Champion with the tool sets required to successfully roll out and deploy innovation in the organisation,” said Markoulides, BMGI’s own innovation champion.