Jenny Retief: “I have a dream for SA in 2017…”

By Jenny Retief*

Jenny Retief, CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub, has a dream to build the South African economy by supporting large numbers of small businesses.

I have a dream for South Africa that includes large numbers of thriving small businesses contributing to the economy – businesses which are truly representative of the demographics of our beautiful country and are successful because they deliver valued goods and services. I have a dream to see multiple entrepreneurial businesses which flourish in a streamlined macro environment which encourages entrepreneurship and makes it easy to do business both within our borders as well as on the African continent and beyond.

These businesses will grow the economy and provide dignity to thousands of currently unemployed people, including youth.

For too long a huge pool of untapped talent has been largely excluded from the main economic activity in South Africa. At Riversands Incubation Hub, we are nurturing those entrepreneurs and guiding them through the maze of doing business. During the incubation period, business owners take advantage of market access services where they are introduced to formal as well as informal market opportunities. They also receive business coaching, training, and guest lectures from specialists in various fields and invites to events designed to share information and expose them to people that will help them improve their business turnover and knowledge. Back office support services allow small business owners to fill the administrative gaps that so many small businesses have. Entrepreneurs take advantage of the services at their own discretion and according to their perception of what their businesses require.

Conference facilities at Riversands Incubation Hub serve the dual purpose of bringing high level delegates to the campus, raising the market visibility of the businesses on the campus and showcasing black-owned businesses while contributing to the sustainability of the project.

Riversands Incubation Hub is a public/private partnership between National Treasury’s Jobs Fund and Century Property Developments.

The generational impact on the family of a business owner can never be underestimated. Apart from better formal education, having an entrepreneur around the family dinner table stimulates an interest in business and in acting independently. This applies even if the business owner experiences an almost inevitable failure over the course of the years, because failures can often generate more business and life lessons than success. Conversations and inspiration flow and the ripple effect reaches beyond the individuals.

Repairing the ills of apartheid will take many years. At Riversands Incubation Hub, the team comes to work with a spring in their step because a thriving economy will be a boost for all the challenges we face in South Africa.

  • Jenny Retief is CEO of Riversands Incubation Hub, an initiative to kick-start the growth of the small business economy in northern Johannesburg. The large-scale business incubator was established in 2015 through a partnership between Century Property Developments and The Jobs Fund. The facility currently has over 150 small black-owned businesses on the campus. Facilitating market access for entrepreneurs lies at the heart of the support offered to business owners. Entrepreneurs also receive subsidised rental and business support services according to what their businesses need – for example, accounting services or IT training to name but two. The Hub is located at the centre of the Riversands Commercial Park. The primary intention of the incubator is to create a strong, enabling eco-system which fosters the development of high-potential enterprises.