In­vest­ment boat

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - Marc Ash­ton

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.

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