“Entrepreneurs need to think globally, not locally, and focus on long-term, sustainable growth“
As any business leader knows, advice and support — whether formal or informal — is crucial for market success. To support these discussions and disseminate knowledge, Ernst & Young has created a program of Strategic Growth Forums.
These days, companies have to think and act internationally if they are to achieve their growth potential. The good news is that, for the 80,000 multinational corporations operating today, opportunities for expansion are ricocheting across the global market.
But there are also challenges — not least intensifying competitive pressures and the need to understand the specific demands that new markets present.
As any business leader knows, advice and support — whether formal or informal — is crucial for market success. To support these discussions and disseminate knowledge, Ernst & Young has created a program of Strategic Growth Forums. Held globally throughout the year, these events bring together prominent executives, investors and entrepreneurs for topical lectures, debates and networking. Locations for past and future events include Brazil, Turkey, Israel, Russia, India and Asia.
It all started in Africa
In March 2012, Ernst & Young hosted the first Strategic Growth Forum in Africa, which is home to 6 of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. Ghana, Liberia and Angola have all used their rich natural resources to boost local development and investment, and South Africa, the venue for the forum, has joined Brazil, Russia, India and China in being among the world’s leading emerging economies.
In a keynote presentation on the second day of the conference, South Africa’s Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, summed up the spirit of optimism.
“Africa’s economic performance over the past decade has outstripped any previous period and current forecasts are that Africa’s economy will grow at about 5.5% as a continent this year,” he said.
Yet the path to prosperity is not straightforward, as Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Executive Governor of Oyo State in Nigeria, admitted. “There is poor infrastructure, especially in rural areas, an underutilization of our airport, non-operational rail services and inadequate electricity supply,” he said during a panel session. “But it’s important to remember that weakness is an opportunity.”
The speakers agreed that, once the right regulation and infrastructure are in place, there is ample opportunity for Africa to emerge as a leading global economic player. Part of this is about building the continent’s “brand” and challenging some persistent misperceptions about the risks of doing business there. “We need to tell the real story,” he said. “Yes, there are risks but they are no greater than in other emerging markets. And the opportunities are great.”
Strategic Growth Forums at a glance
|Growth goes global |
|Other forthcoming events for leadingentrepreneurs and investors include: |
- Strategic Growth Forum, Mumbai, India (6-8 September 2012). Returning to India for the second time, the Forum will encourage attendees to discuss emerging market trends and explore how best to establish and develop new business relationships in India’s burgeoning economy.
- Journey 2012, Tel Aviv, Israel (25 October 2012). The numerous challenges and opportunities facing the technology industry will be the focus of discussion among venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and financial services providers at Israel’s most prestigious technology conference, which is now in its 16th year.
- CEO Summit, São Paulo, Brazil (October 2012). This event will give entrepreneurs, investors and business executives an opportunity to share their experiences, discuss strategies and look for emerging trends.
- Strategic Growth Forum, Palm Springs, US (November 2012). Following last year’s sold-out event, the Forum will offer inspirational speakers and networking opportunities.
- Further events in Asia, Russia and Turkey are scheduled for 2013.
Visit ey.com/sgfevents to find out more about this exciting program.
A similar spirit of optimism and opportunism prevailed at the Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, California, in November 2011. More than 2,300 business leaders attended the event, with speakers including former basketball player and serial entrepreneur “Magic” Johnson, film director Francis Ford Coppola and former US President George W. Bush.
The event sparked discussions about how to develop growth strategies and make the most of business openings in emerging markets, as well as covering important issues to do with mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.
Coppola — who has combined an Oscar-winning film career with other ventures such as his own winemaking business — captured the mood by observing that a willingness to take risks and experiment with new ideas defines entrepreneurial behavior.
“If you do something differently, you become an oddball,” he remarked. “The things they fire you for when you are young are the same things you find yourself getting a lifetime achievement award for when you are old.”
Despite being at different stages of their economic journeys, the US and Africa face many of the same issues when it comes to entrepreneurship. Whether doing business in Palm Springs, Cape Town or anywhere else, entrepreneurs need to think globally, not locally; be willing to take risks; explore a market fully before identifying the opportunities ripe for them, and focus on long-term, sustainable growth.
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