Wednesday, 9 December 2015

BizNews picks up my opionion piece on Economic Exclusion

Alec Hogg's website BizNews publishes my opinion piece this morning - it appeared on this blog a few weeks ago but in case you missed it you can read it here.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A desperate appeal for justice - the City of Joburg must hang its head in shame and cough up!

This morning I was copied on an email from Tshepo Kguaudi, whose tale of woe I wrote about on this blog some weeks ago - click here for the post.

Mr Kgaudi's business was destroyed by a combination of factors, chief amongst which was general inaction and negligence by the City of Johannesburg. The Public Protector issued a report in December last year detailing the remedial action expected from the City. To date, the City has done nothing and continues to obfuscate and delay.

This is typical of an institution which arrogantly ignores the welfare of its residents. The City says it supports small businesses, but this is just one more example that disproves this claim.

Any assistance readers of this blog can give to putting pressure on the City to reach a settlement with Mr Kgaudi will be welcome.

Read his email below:

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Chance Brothers - Lighting the World

During a visit to the UK in July I recorded an interview with broadcaster Graham Fisher, who lives in Birmingham and specialises in the history and heritage of the West Midlands. The interview was arranged by Mike Gibbs, publisher of History West Midlands Magazine, who has done so much to revive interest in what became known as the Black Country, the heart of Britain's industrial revolution.

In the interview I relate some of the factors leading to Chance Brothers becoming a major industrial enterprise from its founding in 1824 by my great great great uncle Robert Lucas Chance to the final closing of its doors in 1981. You can listen to the interview here.

Much of the interview focused on arguably the firm's best known product - lighthouse lenses and associated equipment - which can still be found lighting sealanes and harbours around the world. This is the subject of my book Lighthouses: The race to illuminate the world, published in 2008. For more info on the book you can visit my website here.

Listen also to this interview with Ray Drury, the last Chief Engineer at the Chance Brothers factory in Spon Lane, Smethwick. He reminisces about his experiences from being an apprentice draftsman in 1949 to his tearful locking of the gates of the flat glass plant for the last time in 1976.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Letter to Business Day - Minister needs to re-enter debate

Business Day has published my letter today calling on Minister Lindiwe Zulu to re-enter the debate on labour reform, among other things.

You can read here at BDLive or in full below:

Dear Sir

For Minister Lindiwe Zulu to earn the moniker “driver of change” (Drivers of change must pull together to restart economy, Peter Attard Montalto, 24 November) she first needs to do the following:

1.      Re-enter the debate on labour reform. Shortly after her appointment as Small Business Minister she made some sensible comments about how business was put off hiring because of restrictive labour legislation. After Cosatu took her out at the knees, she has not ventured into that territory again.
2.      Related to this, she should support Herman Mashaba’s bid to have the Constitutional Court reform Section 32 of the Labour Relations Act which mandates the Minister of Labour to extend agreements concluded by sector bargaining councils to non-parties to these agreements.
3.      Advocate tax and regulatory reforms to allow small  businesses to focus on growth rather than grapple with burdensome and punitive red tape and disincentives.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Xenophobia must be recognised as a hate crime - speech in Parliament

Speech by Toby Chance MP

Report of the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals

25th November 2015

"Xenophobia must be recognised as a hate crime"

Honourable Members, this report is a curate’s egg – good in parts but in others it leaves a lot to be desired.

The Committee was unanimous in attributing the main causes of the violence against foreign nationals between January and May this year to socio-economic factors and wanton criminality. But it failed to attribute much of the violent incidents to xenophobic prejudice.

It is a fact that competition for scarce resources in our townships, cities and rural areas, is intense. Jobs are hard to come by and immigrants invariably are more willing to accept lower wages and longer working hours than locals.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Towards an inclusive economy

The Department of Small Business Development, in partnership with the Small Business Development Institute (SBDI), recently hosted the second National Small Business Policy Colloquium at the IDC offices in Sandton. Members of the Portfolio Committee were invited, and I was eager to attend to listen to current thinking in one segment of the small business development ecosystem.

The word that comes to mind in summing up the colloquium presentations and deliberations is exclusion.

Small businesses, especially those in the informal sector, have long been excluded from the mainstream economy. Introducing the Colloquium, Xolani Qubeka, CEO of the SBDI, spoke of the first and second economies, language first used by former President Thabo Mbeki describing South Africa’s dual economy - “one developed and globally connected and another localised and informal, display(ing) many features of a global system of apartheid”.

Mbeki, speaking at the 62nd Session of the UN Security Council in 2007, suggested this was not just a South African phenomenon but a feature of the global economic system.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

DA supports the Small Business Development Portfolio Committee BRRR report

Small Business Development 
Portfolio Committee Budget Review & Recommendation Report
Declaration by Toby Chance, Shadow Minister
17th November 2015

Thank you House Chairperson.

Almost exactly a year ago I spoke at this podium about the excessive time it had taken the newly formed Department of Small Business Development to organise itself and begin to do its work.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Motion moved in Parliament on enterprise and supplier development

Yesterday I moved the following Motion in the House of Assembly:

"I hereby move on behalf of the Democratic Alliance that at its next sitting, this House debates the contribution enterprise and supplier development can make to create a more inclusive economy in South Africa, that broadens the benefits of economic growth to previously excluded sectors and communities."

Small businesses, particularly black-owned ones, cite difficulties in accessing markets as their biggest challenge, followed by access to finance.

If corporate South Africa were to take enterprise and supplier development seriously we could make a real dent into both these problems simultaneously,

Invitation to the Chance Glassworks - Everybody's Story - launch event

An invitation has gone out to attend the Chance Glassworks - Everybody's Story - launch event on November 24th (see my previous post for info on the UK Lottery funding announcement). Sadly I won't be able to attend but I hope some of my readers will make it.

Details of the launch, and links to videos and other articles on Chance Brothers, can be found here.

History West Midlands magazine has done much to revive interest in Chance Brothers, as well as the history of "the people of the West Midlands, their ideas, innovation and industry."

There is a connection between the magazine and South Africa - publisher Mike Gibbs is a regular visitor to and dedicated supporter of Gansbaai in the Overberg region of the Southern Cape.

Gansbaai has just won Gold in the Responsible Tourism Awards destination category - see here for details.

The town, close to Danger Point where a Chance Brothers lens was installed in the newly erected lighthouse in 1895, is a mecca for whale-watching, shark-diving and the launch point for visitors to Dyer Island, breeding ground for tens of thousands of the endangered African Penguin.

The lighthouse was placed close to the site where the HMS Birkenhead went down forty three years earlier - a notorious shipwreck which gave birth to the naval drill of "women and children first." You can read about it here.

Well done to Mike for all your endeavours!

Chance Brothers research project gets UK lottery funding

I have just been forwarded this article which appeared in yesterday's Birmingham Post:

Historic former glassworks in the Black Country which supplied windows for the Houses of Parliament will be the subject of an in-depth research project to discover more about its impact on the area.

A grant of £48,200 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to Birmingham-based built environment charity Made to examine the history of the Chance Brothers Glassworks in Smethwick.

Made will oversee the 18-month project which will look at the impact of the Grade II factory on the region as well as investigating its national and international reach.

Read the full article here.

Another sign that public interest in Chance Brothers continues to grow year by year.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BizNews picks up my article on reforming our innovation and venture capital ecosystem

BizNews, owned and run by veteran financial journalist Alec Hogg, ran my piece on what SA needs to do to stimulate and support innovation and high-growth businesses. Click here to read it.

South Africa lags badly in this sector - venture capital financing innovation to stimulate and support new businesses and which create large numbers of jobs.

Is government listening?

There are moves afoot, but they do not go far enough.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

City of Johannesburg negligence: Public Protector sticks up for a small business owner

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Afternoon Drive on 702 with Xolani Gwala, and caught the tail end of a call from a very distressed man who related how negligence by the City of Joburg had resulted in his business closing down and him losing everything. No-one was listening to him and all attempts to get the city to respond had failed. The City was even ignoring a report by the Public Protector that found against the City, and called for remedial action.

I called 702 and asked for this man's details and not long afterwards we were in contact. His name is Tshepo Kgaudi, and his business was the PhindiK line of shoes, designed in South Africa, made in and imported from Brazil.

What I discovered was truly shocking. For five years, the City had done everything possible to protect itself and an ANC local councillor of dubious ethics, Councillor Mzwandile Zwane,  from admitting its liability in the chain of events leading to the closure of the business.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Press statement: Small Business Ministry misses every one of its performance targets

Democratic Alliance press statement by
Toby Chance MP
DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development 

Small Business Ministry misses every one of its performance targets

16 October 2015
Release: immediate

The Small Business Development Department’ 2014/15 Annual Report reveals that Lindiwe Zulu’s newly formed ministry has failed dismally in fulfilling its mandate by missing every single one of its performance targets for the year. 

Amid a crippling national unemployment crisis, the department was set up to support the small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME) sector in creating new jobs and to “lead an integrated approach to the promotion and development of Small Businesses and Co-operatives through a focus on the economic and legislative drivers that stimulate entrepreneurship to contribute to radical economic transformation”.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Innovation and entrepreneurship: are we commercialising our creativity?

South Africa is in the top 5% of countries by value of its private equity market as a proportion of GDP but in the bottom 5% by the same measure of venture capital.

This was one of the startling facts to emerge at the Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship Round Table in Pretoria on Tuesday, which I attended. It was organised by the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), an agency of the Department of Science and Technology.

The implication of this disparity is that we have a thriving market for private investment in mostly medium to large businesses that generate predictable cash flows and profits, but a weak market for investment – sourced from both the public and private sectors and individuals – in start-up, early-stage and development-stage businesses.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Unity Fellowship Church still at loggerheads with the City of Joburg

This afternoon I got a call from a member of the Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo, Soweto. He informed me that the church was conducting a sit-in at the Rea Vaya bus station next to the City of Joburg municipal offices in Braamfontein. They had just been muscled off the public square next to the Mayor's parlour, where they had requested a meeting with the Mayor to demand an answer to their petition lodged in June calling on the City to address the church's grievances.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals fails to adopt its report

The Parliamentary Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals sat yesterday at 5pm, supposedly for the last time. Except that of the twenty Members of the Committee, only six showed up so it was unable to form the quorum necessary to adopt its report. 

My DA colleague Sej Motau MP and I were the only National Assembly Members to attend the meeting.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Reflections on the LeaderEx / SiMODiSA Start-up Scale-Up Summit

The Sandton Convention Centre buzzed with excitement and expectation on Thursday as members of South Africa's entrepreneurial ecosystem - an informal club of growing confidence and distinction - gathered for the first combined LeaderEx / SiMODiSA Start-Up Scale-Up summit.

Aimed at achieving scale and critical mass, the merging of the two events provided participants with a smorgasbord of choice, with over 200 exhibitors, a programme of 40 intense masterclasses, and opportunities for one-on-one sessions with some of South Africa's top business coaches.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Letter to Business Day about the National Gazelles programme.

Today's Business Day publishes my letter drawing readers' attention to the fact that Thami Mazwai failed to disclose in his article of 9th September that the Department of Small Business Development hired his company, Mtiya Dynamics, to formulate the National Gazelles programme he writes so approvingly about.
I have sent a written question  to Minister Zulu to explain how the Department procured the services of Mtiya Dynamics.

Read my earlier blog post here for a longer version of the letter.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

National Gazelles programme aims too low

Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu’s launch of the National Gazelles programme was a damp squib, attracting hardly any media coverage or commentary. That Dr Thami Mazwai used his Business Day column (9th September) to highlight it is not surprising: the Department hired him to formulate it, which he does not disclose in his column.

The DA has asked the Minister to explain how her department procured the programme from Mtiya Dynamics, headed by ANC-cheerleader Mazwai, and Martin Feinstein. The Department does not appear to have followed any tender process.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Motion without Notice congratulating the creators of the Philippi Village business incubator

Today I moved a Motion without Notice in the House of Assembly recognising the opening of the Philippi Village, which I attended yesterday. It was a wonderful occasion, with music and dance to entertain us and some bearably short but good speeches from all the organisations involved in creating this amazing space. Helen Zille was the keynote speaker and said that she remembered the cement factory as a political incubator, not the business incubator that it has become. An apposite metaphor.

As with all Motions without Notice moved in the House for the past few weeks, the EFF objected, so it would not be written into the Parliamentary record. These spoiling tactics of the EFF are getting on everyone's nerves and will come back to haunt them.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Is Sefa turning the corner?

As I sat in Parliament on Tuesday listening to Minster of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu attempting to chastise the DA for our supposed ‘anti-Africa’ motion to impeach Jacob Zuma (in fact, it was a ‘pro respecting the law and our constitution’ motion), I could not help but wonder why she spends her precious time on a matter so irrelevant to her core mission: helping small businesses thrive and create the jobs South Africa so desperately needs

While her speech-writers were wondering how to wriggle out of the plain fact that her government had blatantly ignored a court order by allowing Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to escape from the AU summit in Sandton in June, I was in a constructive and in-depth meeting with the CEO and senior management of the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) at their offices in Centurion. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Steel tariff hurts downstream small businesses

Amidst all the loud and self-congratulatory hoorays and back-slapping between government, unions and the steel manufacturers, something is being missed: the 10% tariff on steel imports is never going to solve the structural problems of the metals and engineering sector of which steel-making is just a small part.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Call for nominations to serve as members of the National Small Business Advisory Council

The Sunday Times published this notice below. High Time!

I have submitted Parliamentary Questions to the Minister asking her to give some important additional information related to the appointments. I will publish the answers on this blog - don't hold your breath!

See below:

1.       With reference to the call for nominations of candidates for the National Small Business Advisory Council, published in the Sunday Times on August 23rd,

a.       why has it taken fifteen months since the Department of Small Business Development was formed for the call for nominations to be published?
b.      how many Council members does the Minister intend appointing?
c.       what proportion of Council members will be appointed from government, business and civil society?
d.      who will make up the adjudication panel for making the appointments?, 
e.      when will the appointments be announced?; and
f.        what will Council members be paid in addition to their travelling and accommodation costs?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

PWC Emerging Companies survey: insights into SA's SME ecosystem

Yesterday I attended the launch of the PWC survey of South Africa's emerging companies and entrepreneurial landscape in 2015. It was attended by the great and the good in Cape Town's entrepreneurial ecosystem, as well as a smattering from Gauteng. The breakfast event, and survey, were sponsored by Silicon Cape, Microsoft BizSpark, Wesgro and the City of Tshwane.

You can read a report on the event on Fin-24 - I sat next to  journalist Matthew le Cordeur and he kindly did an interview with me afterwards.

Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, was due to give the keynote address but was sick so Lance Greyling stepped in at the last minute. Lance, formerly an Independent Democrat then a DA MP and Shadow Minister for Energy, was appointed earlier this year to the Mayor's Office to spearhead investment and development in the City of Cape Town.

The survey is a goldmine of information and I can only cover a small fraction of the findings here. For those interested in the full survey, contact Maija de Rijk-Uys, Senior Manager at PWC who led the project, at or call her on +27 21 529 2740.

There were 743 participants of which 534 took part in the online survey. 58% of respondents weren't part of any start-up support programme, while 30% were involved with Microsoft BizSpark.

85% were emerging companies, 12% other ecosystem stakeholders including government, tertiary institutions, incubators and accelerators, while 3%  were investors.

56% of the emerging companies had their HQ in the Western Cape, 34% in Gauteng, 6% in KZN and 4% in other provinces.

60% of respondent companies are involved in non-traditional businesses, primarily app development, mobile applications, ecommerce/online, digital advertising and big data.

The survey exposed some myths that have crept into the ecosystem.

Myth # 1 is that funding is the biggest challenge. The survey found, however, that finding market access, not funding, was the largest commercial challenge facing the respondents. The report points out, though, that funding is still the biggest challenge for start-ups and early stage companies, whereas the majority of the respondents here had turnover of over R1 million.

Myth # 2 is that the main inhibitor of business growth is cash constraints. According to the respondents, this myth is in fact true with the following factors cited in descending order of importance: 1. Cash constraints; 2. Working capital; 3. Talent/skills shortage; 4. Regulatory burden/red tape; 5. Long sales cycle.

When it came to sources of funding, 81% of respondents had never applied for government funding opportunities, while incredibly 40% were not aware of any government funding opportunities available to them. The report states: "The majority of funding applications were not successful, with the majority of fund seekers having tried to perform the funding administration without professional help."

Of the 19% of respondents who have applied for government help, 50% applied to the Industrial Development Corporation and 50% to the Technology Innovation Agency.

The top three reasons for not applying for funding were: 1. Unaware of any opportunities (41%); 2. Administration burden; length of application process/red tape (28%); and 3. Not eligible for any incentive schemes (19%).

This begs the question: where is the Small Enterprise Finance Agency to be found, and why are government finance schemes not more accessible?

Myth # 3 is that red tape is stifling SMEs. The survey found that although red tape was cited as a growth inhibitor by entrepreneurs, it only ranked fourth out of ten as a growth stopper, with only 9% of respondents choosing this option.

The reports goes on: "On average 8 working days per month are spent by companies dealing with red tape. Even though our respondents didn't rank red tape as their primary growth inhibitor, this figure brings into question the opportunity cost of dealing with regulatory compliance and how much more successful SMEs could be if they could plough these additional hours into developing their businesses."

On the matter of raising capital, 43% of respondents did not raise capital in the last 12 months, but plan to do so in the next 12 months. On future funds to be raised, the sources are: 1. Family and friends (15%); 2. Angel investors (13%); 3. Venture capital/private equity (20%); and Other, including enterprise development, government agencies and corporate backing (52%).

It is worth repeating here that 30% of respondents are involved in BizSpark, Microsoft's enterprise/supplier development programme which aims to align to the BBBEE scorecard. As a wholly international-owned company, Microsoft will not sell any equity to local black investors so has to develop an equity-equivalent scheme instead.

At a meeting I had with the BizSpark team at Microsoft's headquarters in Bryanston in March, I learned that the company had teamed up with the Jobs Fund. After some initial very expensive incubation of small tech businesses, it shifted to the virtual incubator model. This reduced the cost of each job created from R122 000 to R34 000. Microsoft appoints a portfolio manager to facilitate a group of incubates, who are provided with mentorship and training. At the time of my meeting they had 200 businesses in the portfolio, which is close to their proportion of the total number of respondents in the PWC survey.

So we are talking about a very specific sample of businesses here. It is an important segment of the total emerging business landscape, but more research is needed to include businesses in other sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, finance, retail/wholesale and other services.

This is something which the Department of Small Business Development should be focusing on. We actually know very little about our small business ecosystem, which includes the informal sector. The informal sector, which "employs" anything from 2 to 4 million people, is a big mystery to most people dealing with accelerating small business but it cannot be ignored by policy makers (see a well thought out piece by Zama Ndlovu in today's Business Day).

The PWC Emerging Companies survey adds measurably to our understanding of South Africa's small business ecosystem. But is is a dipstick sample and needs massive amplification and replication across the entire small business landscape for us to really get to grips with the issues.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Township industrial parks – where’s the action?

This morning I read in Business Day (see here) that Gauteng plans to inject 30% of its R90 billion five year budget into its townships. But how, one wonders? This is an enormous amount of money but I am yet to see any detailed plan.

The ANC Government is yet again showing that when it comes to fulfilling its own promises it falls woefully short.

In October last year I attended the Township Revitalisation Summit at Orlando Stadium, Soweto. This was supposedly the culmination of months of consultations by the Gauteng government, and MEC Lebogang Maile in particular, where they were hearing about challenges black-owned businesses faced in Gauteng’s townships.

The Summit was all huff and puff, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, MEC Maile and Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu all pitching in with promise after promise.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Joanie Hofmeyr achieves early stardom with Juilliard scholarship

This afternoon I tabled a Motion Without Notice in Parliament, congratulating Joanie Hofmeyr on her achievement of winning a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard school of dance, drama and music in New York. (A Motion Without Notice is an opportunity for MPs to table matters of local or national significance in Parliament).

The motion is set out below, as well as a fuller account of her musical background. 

I met Joanie for the second time after singing evensong on August 2nd at St George's Church, Parktown, Johannesburg where she performed some exquisite solos. She blew everyone away, and I have never seen the church as packed for an evensong as it was then.

What I did not tell Joanie was that I first met her at my good friend JP Landman's 60th birthday at the Cape Town club in June where she performed to the delight of the 50-or-so guests. She really is a remarkable talent and I am sure we will see a lot more of her in the years to come.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Confusion reigns over who controls township industrial parks

Recent statements by DTI Director General Lionel October and Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu illustrate government’s inability to provide clear direction over the future of South Africa’s industrial parks.

These parks were set up in the 1970s and 80s in the former homelands and townships to provide work spaces for black-owned small and medium enterprises which were prevented from operating in white-designated areas under the Group Areas Act. The parks have been left to decay over many years with virtually no investment in maintaining the buildings, transport infrastructure or marketing.

South Africa’s development finance institutions not doing enough for SMMEs

South Africa’s development finance institutions (DFIs) only contribute about 5% of the country’s GDP whereas in Germany it is closer to 20%. This startling comparison was revealed by the IDC’s Divisional Executive for Corporate Strategy, David Jarvis, at a workshop convened by the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development last week.

The purpose of the workshop was to understand the funding environment for small businesses and cooperatives and come up with strategies for improving it.

During three days of deliberations, the picture became more and more depressing as we listened to the difficulties facing entrepreneurs seeking financial support.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Letter to Business Day on triangulation and al-Bashir

Today's Business Day publishes my letter on why triangulation in the al-Bashir case is a bad idea. Read it here or below. You can read Michael Harris' article which prompted my letter, here. The article caused quite a bit of debate and correspondence. It is interesting the EU delegation in SA last week also said South Africa should have detained al-Bashir. This controversy is not going to die down, especially since the government is contesting the court order ex post facto.

Empowering women traders and entrepreneurs in Cape Town

On Saturday and Monday I attended two events which show how much is going on quietly behind the scenes to empower women in business in Cape Town.

The first was the Ward 57 Women Economic Empowerment Symposium, the second was the launch of a campaign to equip small traders with a sales kit to sell cigarettes backed up by the very innovative M4JAM system of making extra money. Women make up the bulk of informal traders in this part of the world, particularly on the Cape Flats. Though on the margins of the economy, some of them are breaking into bigger markets and developing products that can compete in the formal economy. Events such as these give a boost to that momentum.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Interview with the Sunday Tribune on measures to assist small businesses

Today's Sunday Tribune business section features a Q&A with me on Page 4. Here is the article.

You can read my full answers below. 

      NOTE: There is an error in the article on the BBBEE scores for procurement and enterprise development. It says the combined points is 25, whereas the correct number is 25 for procurement and 15 for enterprise and supplier development.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Speech to the British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa

This evening DA leader Mmusi Maimane and I addressed a gathering of business people at the Inanda Club in Johannesburg at the invitation of the British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa. Their monthly meetings are an opportunity for discussion and networking among an important collection of leaders in the SA business community.

Below is the text of my prepared speech.

It is an honour and my pleasure to be invited to speak to you here this evening. The decision to re-establish the British Chamber of Business in Southern Africa is to be welcomed by everyone with a stake in building relations between Britain and this region.

British – South Africa trade relations have traditionally been very close. South Africa is Britain’s sixth biggest trading partner globally, while Britain remains South Africa’s seventh largest export market.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Chance Brothers illuminating the world - appearing last night in Birmingham, UK

Publisher of History West Midlands magazine, Mike Gibbs has a passion for the Black Country, an area centred on Wolverhampton, Dudley and Smethwick a few miles west of Birmingham in the UK. He was born and bred there and apart from a few years in South Africa has lived there all his life.

A successful and now retired businessman, he devotes most of his time to establishing and supporting ventures which aim to uncover the rich history of this part of Britain, which was the crucible of the Industrial Revolution and home to many famous inventors and industrial dynasties.

One of these dynasties was the Chance family, who from the 1770s built a trading then a manufacturing business of considerable scale which for five generations led Britain's glassmaking industry. At its height in the early 20th century the firm employed over 3 500 people. The factory finally closed its doors in 1981.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Solving the small business finance conundrum

Today's Sunday Times carries my opinion piece on small business finance - you can read it here.

I had to cut it to 750 words. For the full version, read on below.

Most surveys of small business cite difficulties in accessing finance as one of the top three challenges they face. But talk to providers of finance and they say the opposite: there is a scarcity of fundable small businesses out there.

Solving this conundrum is at the heart of South Africa’s biggest challenge: how to create the 11 million new jobs we need by 2030 to reduce unemployment to 6% from its current 36%.

Attacks on foreign nationals driven by competition for resources

Film-goers will recall director Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi movie District 9 for its dystopian portrayal of a Johannesburg township under the menacing influence of the Prawns. These creatures, from a distant planet, established a precarious existence in a camp set up to keep them away from locals, who despised them for being “non-humans” yet admired their advanced technology and weaponry.

The film was released in 2009, shortly after South Africa suffered an outbreak of violence against foreigners which left over sixty people dead. The parallels between these attacks and the anti-Prawn sentiments of District 9 were not lost on political and social commentators. 

The 2008 attacks were labelled xenophobic because most of the victims were foreigners. They were accused of taking jobs from South Africans and using unfair and sometimes illegal practices to out-wit local traders, putting them out of business and leading to widespread resentment and envy. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

BizNews carries my OpEd on Minister Zulu's speech on al-Bashir's escape from justice

Alec Hogg's BizNews website features my opinion piece on why it was wrong for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to be allowed to leave South Africa, defying a court order to detain him.

See it here.

The DA has been vocal on this issue. Our view is categorical: South Africa must uphold the rule of law and the constitution. Our international commitments go further than Africa.

Read this interview in City Press with a former ICC judge for a broader perspective on the issue.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Minister Zulu chooses African unity over the rule of law

Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has clearly forgiven Robert Mugabe for describing her as "a stupid woman" and as "a little streetwalker" after she called for the 2013 Zimbabwe elections to be delayed.

In this evening's snap debate on the escape of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from the AU Summit in Johannesburg last Monday, Minister Zulu was deployed to trot out the ANC party line that African unity is more important than observing both international and South African law for the government in which she serves.

The decision to let him leave the country was a collective cabinet decision, she said.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

False Bay TVET college - Centre for Entrepreneurship

Yesterday I visited one of the three Centres for Entrepreneurship that have opened their doors since the DTI conceived of them a couple of years ago, before the formation of the Department of Small Business Development. This is one of the better ideas the DTI has had, among the raft of programmes devised in the past twenty years aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship in South Africa.

My visit confirmed for me there is no substitute to seeing something face to face, and speaking to the people involved, if you want to get a true picture of what is going on. In Parliamentary speak, I was conducting an "oversight visit."

Friday, 19 June 2015

Letter to Minister Rob Davies about alleged corruption at the DTI

Today I wrote a letter to Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies requesting him to institute an investigation into corruption in his department.

The allegations of corruption came up during Wednesday's Portfolio Committee meeting where the King of Midlands cooperative described how they were led down the garden path, at a cost of R270 000, but the DTI and a consultant who made promises that were not fulfilled.

I am looking forward to Minister Davies' response.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Youth Day in Soweto - where it all began

On June 16 1976 nine year old Noble Mabaso was shot by police outside his home on Nykale St, Naledi, Soweto. Two days later he died from his wounds in hospital. 

The atrocity happened just a few metres from Naledi High School, where student organisers of the march that day, protesting against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, took decisions that changed South Africa forever. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Parliamentary joint subcommittee on probing violence against foreign nationals gets underway

On Friday, the Parliamentary joint subcommittee on probing violence against foreign nationals sat for the second time. I have been appointed to the committee along with my DA colleagues Sej Motau from the National Assembly and Bridget Masango from the National Council of Provinces (she has replaced Jaco Londt who had to withdraw due to other commitments).

Media coverage has been meagre so far but will doubtless increase as the committee's deliberations ensue. ENCA covered the announcement of the Committee - see the link below:

ENCA on the announcement of the Committee

Monday, 8 June 2015

KZN job-creation projects lie abandoned

8 June 2015
Release: immediate

Note to editors: The following remarks follow an oversight visit today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance MP, to several industrial and business parks in the City of eThekwini. 

Two major job creation projects meant to support small businesses in eThekwini are lying abandoned and derelict, a DA oversight visit to the metro has found today.

Both the Jabulani Business Park in Verulam and a Mushroom-growing plant near King Shaka International have fallen out of use for years, despite 383 000 eThekwini residents being unable to find work. 

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Lucas Mogashoa's funeral in Soweto - the DA pulls out all the stops for a true son

This morning I attended Lucas Mogashoa's funeral in Soweto. It was a very moving occasion - actually two, for first there was the service then the burial.

Lucas was employed as the Constituency Officer in the DA's Mvelaphanda constituency, formerly known as Soweto North. It adjoins my own constituency, Soweto West. He died of a stroke last week, aged only 40, leaving three daughters and two sons.

He was born and spent his early years in Naledi. In the funeral leaflet, a brief Story of My life recounts how "I attended preparatory school in Naledi Day Care, because I was too smart. I started school at the age of 4 in 1980 at Lethabo Combined School, when I was 7 years old my teacher took me to a radio station as I was always a good speaker."

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Minister Lindiwe Zulu is listening to the DA, at last!

In an interview with Fin24 journalist Matthew le Cordeur on Friday, Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu as good as admitted she is taking the advice my colleague Henro Kruger and I gave her in our budget debate speeches last Wednesday.

Not only will she focus on cutting red tape, but she will seek the merger of Sefa and Seda which I first mooted at a Portfolio Committee meeting earlier this month. I issued a press statement on May 7th to this effect.

Here is the first article and interview clip on red tape reduction and Sefa/Seda:

Fin24 Red Tape interview

Here is the second article and interview clip:

Minister Zulu correctly said that the Portfolio Committee is adopting a constructive approach to policy development. Many of my suggestions are finding expression in her statements, including references to 'gazelles', or fast-growing businesses which have the potential to create large numbers of jobs. I first brought this up in our strategy workshop last September and listed it as one of the things her department should focus on.

Without the DA's advice and input on the committee I think it's fair to say the Department and Minister Zulu would have been much slower in getting to grips with the priorities for small business.

Friday, 22 May 2015

You Tube video of the Small Business Development budget debate

Parliament has loaded the video of the Extended Public Committee debate on Small Business Development in Parliament on May 20th - you can view it here

I come on about 38 minutes into the debate.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Budget debate speech in Parliament

Today at 5 pm, the Extended Public Committee on Small Business Development sat in the National Assembly to hear the debate on the Department's budget. I was the third speaker, after Minister Zulu and Committee Chair Ruth Bhengu.

Here is my speech below:

Speech by
Toby Chance MP
DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development

Extended Public Committee
20th May 2015

Minister Zulu needs to wake up and defend her job-creating ministry


Last year I spoke of the fairy tale formation of the Department of Small Business Development and likened the Honourable Zulu to Cinderella.

If she took the DA’s advice Minister Zulu could rid herself of the ugly step-sisters Rob Davies and Ebrahim Patel and become the first business-friendly minister in President Zuma’s cabinet.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Resolution on enterprise and opportunity moved at the DA Federal Congress

Apart from listening to the debate on the family (see my previous blog post), earlier on Saturday I seconded a motion (proposed by Dean Macpherson) promoting enterprise, freedom and opportunity. Here it is below. I'm pleased to say the motion was carried.

The Democratic Alliance recognises that unemployment and poverty remain significant challenges to a large proportion of our people. Currently, 36% of South Africans are unemployed and 20% are living in extreme poverty. Since Jacob Zuma became President in 2009, 1.4 million additional South Africans have become unemployed. Our economy has also experienced depressed economic growth over this period, with the current growth forecast for 2015 only being 2%.

The DA believes that:

•     As the party of freedom, opportunity and enterprise, it is our responsibility to foster an entrepreneurial culture;
•     Significant job creation in our economy can be driven by the formation and growth of new businesses;
•     South Africa’s economy can thrive in an environment unburdened by restrictive regulations and red tape;
•     Businesses should be incentivised through innovative tax and other stimulatory measures so as to create new jobs to bring unemployment, and thus inequality, down from today’s unacceptable levels;
 Resolves that a DA government will:

•     Grow our way to economic prosperity through increased incentives for manufactures, entrepreneurs, building a capable state that can achieve 8% growth;
•     Reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, with an aim to encourage the formation of new businesses, and spur the growth and success of existing enterprises;
•     Cut corruption from R30 billion per year and use these savings to reduce tax;
•     Establish a national guarantee/ capital venture fund to draw the private sector and state together in support of new businesses.

 Proposer: Dean Macpherson,   
Seconder: Toby Chance 

The vexing issue of family and the DA

On Saturday delegates to the DA Federal Congress in Nelson Mandela Bay deliberated and voted on a number of amendments to the Federal Constitution. The most contentious of these concerned whether the party's recently-finalised vision and values charter, which forms the preamble to the amended constitution, should include a section on family.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Press Statement: DA calls for unified agency to support job-creating entrepreneurs

7 May 2015
Release: immediate

The immediate merger of the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) into one, unified and mandated agency providing support for new and existing small businesses and entrepreneurs cannot be delayed any longer. 

I will today write to the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, calling for this merger to be instituted without delay, as a necessary step towards job creation in the private sector.  

This comes after yesterday’s mammoth eleven hour meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, in which it became clear that the department is failing in its mandate to support and promote small businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa. 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Letter in Business Day: SA must nurture entrepreneurship

Today's Business Day features my letter on entrepreneurship which was prompted by three recent articles in their excellent new comment and opinion pages, as well as my visit to Riversands Incubation Hub last week.

I am very pleased Mmusi Maimane is pushing the need to support entrepreneurship in his campaign to take over from Helen Zille as DA leader. For without entrepreneurs, we will not meet our job creation target of 11 million new jobs by 2030. Big businesses shed jobs to cut costs to become more competitive, new and growing businesses create them. Government's top priority must, therefore, be to introduce policies that maximise the job-creating opportunities for new and growing business.

You can read my letter on BDLive here or the unedited version below:

May I commend you on your new opinion and commentary section in the revamped Business Day. There is always something new and interesting to read.

Wednesday’s edition featured two articles of particular relevance to South Africa’s prospects. It is common cause that job creation will depend on the formation and growth of small and medium enterprises, which in turn will depend on their being nurtured and provided with opportunities to enter the mainstream economy. In the longer term, an entrepreneurial economy requires an education system which teaches and instills an entrepreneurial culture in our youth.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Riversands Incubation Hub - pioneering small business development

Today I visited Riversands Incubation Hub near Diepsloot in north west Johannesburg at the invitation of Anne Vicente who handles its PR and marketing. She is doing a good job - today's Business Day has a feature by Lesley Stones on the hub - you can read it here. Stones is upbeat about its vision and conveys the staff's sense of excitement about its potential impact on small business development.

I won't repeat what she says in her article but add a few observations of my own and comments from Anne and the hub's CEO, Jenny Retief who spent a valuable hour with me after my tour.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Small Business Development Portfolio Committee Chair opposed to transparent oversight

Yesterday's portfolio committee on Small Business Development revealed that Chairperson Ruth Bhengu is more interested in protecting government agencies and hiding inconsistencies in the ANC's economic policy than conducting transparent and effective parliamentary oversight.

The Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) previously reported directly to Minister Ebrahim Patel’s Department of Economic Development, but as of 1 April 2015, SEFA now reports to Lindiwe Zulu as the Minister of Small Business Development. Therefore oversight of SEFA is the responsibility of the Small Business Development portfolio committee.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Job-creating Gauteng Township Industrial Parks should be Minister Zulu's top priority

Democratic Alliance press statement by
Toby Chance MP
DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development 

13 April 2015
Release: immediate

Note to editors: The following remarks were made today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance MP, following an oversight visit to two Township Industrial Parks in Pennyville and Orlando West, Gauteng.

Today I witnessed first-hand a tragic missed opportunity to stimulate enterprise and create the jobs our country so desperately lacks.
On visiting two of Gauteng’s Township Industrial Parks, in Pennyville and Orlando West, it became clear that both national and provincial government have displayed sheer neglect in supporting, maintaining and advancing these parks in order to create jobs and grow the township economy. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

DA to conduct oversight visit to township industrial parks in Pennyville and Orlando West

12 April 2015
Release: immediate

The DA’s Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance MP, and DA Spokesperson on Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Martin Louw, will tomorrow conduct an oversight visit to two township industrial parks in the City of Johannesburg, followed by a press briefing. 

Township industrial parks have the potential to create jobs and address racially based economic exclusion, and thus should be prioritised by government. However, a long history of under-investment and neglect has left them in a dire state.

The DA will announce its action plan in this regard.

The briefing will take place as follows:

Date: Monday, 13 April 2015
Time: 10:00
Venue: Pennyville Industrial Park, 114 New Canada Road, Pennyville, Johannesburg (near to the New Canada train station)

There will opportunities for photos and interviews

Media enquiries:

Graham Charters
Media Officer
072 635 0440

Friday, 3 April 2015

Cecilia Mary Elizabeth Chance 17th November 1928 - 23rd March 2015

Tiggy Chance - eulogy by her elder son, my brother Sebastian

Loving wife and mother; grandmother and great grandmother; sister, aunt, godmother; poet, journalist, teacher, businesswoman, music festival founder. We will all have our own memories of the woman we have come here today to remember.

My mother was a unique, wonderful multi-talented person and we miss her greatly.

Cecilia, or Tiggy, as she became known, was born on 17th November, 1928 in Caspidge, a country house near Bromsgrove. Her father Hugh was a director of the family glassmaking business near Birmingham. Her mother Cynthia Baker-Cresswell came from a landowning family in Northumberland.

It was a prosperous, comfortable home. Educated at a Rudolf Steiner school in Surrey, Tiggy did not receive the kind of academic education  required to gain the coveted place at Oxford to read English. This was always a source of regret to her, feeling that she had not achieved her potential. However, mum didn't let this disappointment hold her back, and she went on to live a full and rewarding life.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Criticism of government economic policy is mounting

Whether it is the IMF, BUSA, Cosatu, the Black Business Council or the World Bank doing the criticising, they all agree on certain key fault lines within our economy. The economy is dominated by big players, investment is too low, there is a rampant skills and entrepreneurial deficit, we are consumer and not producer focused, we are good at writing blueprints and plans but are hopeless at implementation, and we are still suffering the legacy of apartheid. Where there is less agreement is what to do about it.

Broadly, some say government should intervene more to stimulate growth while others say the opposite, that government must “get out of the way” and let business do what it does best, which is create wealth.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Press statement: Inquiry needed into crumbling township Industrial Parks in Gauteng

Democratic Alliance press statement by
Toby Chance MP
DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development 

Inquiry needed into crumbling township Industrial Parks in Gauteng

11 March 2015
Release: immediate

I have today written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, Ruth Bhengu, requesting that she summon the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, to appear before the Committee and account for the appalling neglect of Industrial Parks in Gauteng townships. 

These township Industrial Parks, operated and owned by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), are run down, lack adequate lighting, basic infrastructure, security and refuse collection, and are severely over-crowded.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Speaking at the Unity Fellowship Church, Chiawelo, Soweto

This morning Diana and I attended a service at the Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo, Soweto, run by the charismatic Pastor Mukhuba and her husband Dr Mukhuba. This was at the invitation of one of their congregants, Paulette Nkosi, whom I met on Monday to talk about her media business which is poised for growth and needs a helping hand.

The church is facing closure by the City of Johannesburg on grounds it's operating illegally. After sending them a letter in April 2013 informing them their permit to operate the church, issued in 2008, was summarily terminated, the City has now served them with an eviction notice which the Mukhubas are fighting in court. The Mukhubas claim this is politically motivated, due to the outspoken criticism of the ANC issued from their pulpit which is not being taken lightly by the powers that be.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

In a spat with Jeremy Cronin over the causes of inequality

Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Secretary General of the SA Communist Party and Deputy Minister of Public Works, wrote a whinging piece in the Cape Times last week, attempting to characterise my colleague Geordin Hill-Lewis and me as Thatcherites who do not understand the causes of inequality. This is presumably because of the article I wrote (read it here), which was carried in the Sunday Independent two weeks ago, in which I described how Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan fashioned the Washington Consensus which gets Cronin's knickers in a twist.

He could not be more wrong! We understand it very well. Inequality in South Africa is caused mostly by the huge gulf between the employed and the unemployed which is itself due to weak economic growth.

Yesterday the Cape Times carried our rejoinder - here - where we set out our views.

You can make your mind up on who has the better arguments.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

SONA 2015 aftermath and the parallel universe outside Parliament

On Friday morning South Africa woke up to the realisation that the national project of a new democracy based on defending the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the rule of law against its enemies is in danger of imploding. If Karl Popper were alive today he would have added a new chapter to his book The Open Society and its Enemies. Following his identification of Plato, Hegel, Marx and their residue as the enemies of freedom, Popper would have found an equally dangerous enemy in Jacob Zuma, our President in name only. Thursday's State of the Nation in Parliament was the clearest evidence yet that Zuma and the network of cronies he's built around him will stop at nothing to cling to power, at the expense of institutions designed to protect us from oppression and rule by cleptocracy.

                  " Bring back the signal!"
The media, fellow MPs and numerous commentators have documented Thursday's outrageous scenes in the House of Assembly so I will not attempt to repeat them here. Suffice to say that from the moment the scrambling device was detected before the sitting began, to the DA's walkout and Speaker Mbete's calling Julius Malema a cockroach at an ANC rally yesterday, the foundations of South Africa's democracy were steadily and relentlessly attacked by forces within the ANC that sacrificed them beneath the defence, at all costs, of Zuma and his corrupt patronage network.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Promoting opportunity, not envy: Opinion piece in The Star

Hot on the heals of my complaint to the Human Rights Commission regarding Minister Lindiwe Zulu's comments on the looting of foreign-run spaza shops in Soweto, my views on the broader issues are published in The Star newspaper this morning (Thursday 5th February). 

Walking through my constituency in Soweto observing the damage done to property, local business and community relations by the recent looting of foreign-run spaza shops, it became clear that the causes were not immediately obvious, and the solutions hardly more so.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

SAPA releases statement on my request to the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate Minister Lindiwe Zulu's comments on foreign traders

The SA Human Rights Commission has received a request from the DA to investigate comments made by Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu about foreigners, it said on Tuesday.
"We are currently assessing the matter with a view to investigate," commission spokesman Isaac Mangena said.
"The assessment will tell us if we are the correct institution to deal with the matter or not."

Monday, 2 February 2015

Press statement - DA calls on SAHRC to investigate Lindiwe Zulu’s state-sponsored xenophobia

Democratic Alliance press statement by
Toby Chance MP
DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development 

2 February 2015
Release: immediate

The DA will today lay a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) regarding the recent xenophobic comments made by the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. 

In arguably her most outrageous public comment since becoming a minister eight months ago, Zulu said that foreign business owners should share their business practices with locals if they wanted to live and trade here without fear of disturbance or violence.