GEC 2017: Johannesburg, South Africa


GEC 2017

Delegates from 173 different countries gathered at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg – a budding startup hub that is both an economic and cultural cornerstone of South Africa – and attended in-depth masterclasses and relevant discussions to foster entrepreneurs to start and scale new businesses.​


In its ninth year, more than 8,400 people from around the world registered for the Congress, co-hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, the Kauffman Foundation, SEA Africa and the City of Johannesburg. Other partners included the Industrial Development Corporation, South Africa’s Department of Small Business Development and the Gauteng Province, as well as companies including ABSA, Transnet, Hollard, SAB, Telkom, Microsoft and Johnson and Johnson.


During the four-day long Congress, delegates had the opportunity to make connections, learn about new research, and take home the latest information to renew their programs, facilitate policy discussions and mobilize their entrepreneurial community.


Beyond the sessions and discussions, the GEC 2017 left an additional impact on the country and continent, with the launch of the regional GEN affiliate, GEN Africa, and the reaffirmation of GEN South Africa – led by Managing Director Kizito Okechukwu. The Congress brought delegates from around the world to Africa, and GEN Africa will work to innovate and unite the continent’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – bringing Africa to the world.


As well as the emergence of GEN Africa, world government leaders in entrepreneurship, small businesses and innovation, gathered at the GEC for the third Global SME Ministerial. Led by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the South African Ministry of Small Business Development, ministers and policy leaders participated in a dialogue to share best practices, find collaborative solutions and to create a path for promoting entrepreneurship in any economy and community around the world.


The 2017 Congress also included a new, customized track for global investment organizations, as well as for entrepreneurs and startup founders. The customized sessions focused on issues such cross-border investing and the entrepreneur program covered relevant challenges and success stories from global entrepreneurs.


Other highlights from the Congress included pitch corners for entrepreneurs and organizations to pitch their idea on a global stage, entrepreneurship workshops, and in-depth, high-impact sessions that covered many topics, including:


  • Digital disruption in a changing economy;
  • Analyzing entrepreneurial mindset in South Africa, and creating a replicable study;
  • Enhancing early stage investment;
  • Catalyzing startup communities;
  • Intersection of public and corporate partnerships to enable entrepreneurial growth in communities; and more.

The global discussion will continue in Istanbul, Turkey, for the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Congress. It will be held April 16 – 19, 2018.