ship drew plenty of criticism from white entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs because of the suggestion that we should step up black ownership of early-stage businesses by enforcing some form of black economic (BEE) partnerships into newly registered businesses. “I’m shocked that you should suggest I should employ black South Africans in my business and share my business ideas with them,” commented one l oca l entrepreneur. Ironically, this same entrepreneur is busy showing around a business plan looking for a couple of million rand to launch a venture in the consumer space while talking up the “growing black middle class”. Which brings me to The Big Debate and comments from black South Africans on Twitter on their participation in the economy. Often I f ind it very difficult not to react to attacks on young white South Africans concerning the argument that they have been given huge advantages over other races. It’s difficult to debate “I wasn’t even an adult during apartheid” in 140 characters.
Someone I do enjoy following on Twitter is Lebo Mukanzi (@Lebza1Mukansi). I like Lebo because he has launched both corporate and entrepreneurial ventures. I don’t always agree with his views, but a poignant tweet he wrote addressed to a white South African who was slating him for focusing on race, specifically around education for blacks versus whites, struck me: “Where you see race obsession, I see an inability to read the obvious, I see academic ideas instead of human understanding.”
That tweet is fundamental to the entire debate.
I referred to the R7m magic number because of two recent share dealings that billionaire investor Christo Wiese made when he bought a few single-stock futures (SSFs) in JSE-listed Pallinghurst. I calculated that if Pallinghurst does what the analysts say it will do, these two transactions alone will net Wiese roughly R7m. To Wiese this is small change, to my dad it was what he needed to reach financial independence.
Any South African can make the decision to invest and be a part-owner in a business. You can pick up the phone right now and have a stockbroker help you replicate, on some scale, what Wiese did and possibly enjoy a payday i n Pallinghurst or one of many other listed business ventures.
Diversity in ownership of the South African economy will be the driving factor for South African gross domestic product in the next decade. We need to be open to a multifaceted debate that drives this.