Can business thrive in South Africa?

We live in complex political and economic times. Decisions made at political level affect sentiment, not only locally, but internationally. Sentiment in, in turn, affects investors’ willingness to bet on our horse.

The downgrade to junk status will see significantly lower levels of foreign investment trickling to our shores. This has the business community and all of society really, up in arms. A reasonable response by any measure of the imagination.

I fear that all this negativity is poisoning the transformation we have undergone during the past 20 years. We have battled a masked villain in our country. It has been called by many names, given many guises, depending on who it was that told the story.

This villain is a victim mentality. Over the past two decades we have made quantum strides in conquering this villain. Once again, it rears its ugly head. We fall prey to the same thinking that has pestered us for so long.  We are the victims of our environment, other peoples’ decisions, and our economy.

I think back to a previous era, under trade embargoes and significant political turmoil. Did we have a reason to be negative, furious, indignant. Most certainly! Instead of cowering in a corner, we stood up and fought. All of us, irrespective of race, religion on gender. We all had a different fight, some with each other, but we rose to the challenge.

We refused to accept the state of affairs. We refused to accept the world’s version of how that story would end. We became a country of freedom fighters, innovators, entrepreneurs. We made discoveries. We built nukes. We surprised the world! We came forth in our triumph.

Today we stand before an all too familiar foe. It is not our economy or our politicians. It is a choice to be a victim, or to be a victor.

Pride swells in my heart. We have conquered a beast much more daunting. We have engrained in our essence the spirit of a fighter. We are here, in this most beautiful country in the world, diverse and colourful, because we were not happy with the status quo.

Now I tell you, we all found paradise. It is time we hunker down and transform the dream into reality.

Let’s innovate, let’s solve problems. Not only our own, but those even the world cannot answer. There is no better teacher than adversity. There is no better creative muse than necessity.

Can business thrive in South Africa?

That is not the right question.

How robust will these tumultuous times teach us to build our businesses? How will we solve problems few countries had had the opportunity to face? How will we navigate challenges few people understand?

I do not have the answer. I know that no nation is more resilient, and no people more creative and diverse. I know, that if anyone can rise to this challenge, it is us.

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