The South African economy is in the doldrums, right? Investor confidence is low, money is tight, and business is slow … or so the general view holds.
When you speak to Saki Zamxaka, Group CEO of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), you forget the gloom and doom, and remember that South Africa is a vibrant country with much opportunity, and there are many who are finding reasons to invest.
There is no quicker way to do this than to visit the Gauteng Investment Centre (GIC) one-stop shop sandwiched between the US Embassy and the Apple store on Sandton Drive.
The business establishment, set up in 2014, is an initiative of the GGDA and aims to make it quick and easy to do business in the province.
“We facilitate and walk the path with you, as you grow and expand your business,” Zamxaka says. Be it identifying turnkey projects, or looking for a suitable site for a factory. “Our mandate is to help businesses grow and progress, no matter the size of the business, or the sector.”
The idea is commendable, and there is much to show that the centre is fulfilling its ambition to grow businesses in Gauteng.
For starters, the location – chosen specifically for its proximity to the Sandton central business district. The other is a Visa Facilitation Services Centre (VFS) for international business representatives that offers a fast turnaround for visa applications.
The GIC is attracting the right kind of attention.
“We get people from far and wide,” says Zamxaka. “Yesterday we had a delegation from China and met with the Ethiopian embassy.”
Is it busy? “Yes,” says Zamxaka. “Busy is good, it means we are doing something right.”
Key to the success has been the buy-in from partners, who have offices in the centre.
If you have a tax issue, SARS is on site to assist, if you are having a municipal problem the City of Joburg is at hand.
GIC partners include EY, the Department of Trade and Industry (Dti), Mercantile Bank of Portugal, Brand South Africa, SARS, the City of Joburg, Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) and the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.
If you’re wondering what the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development offers – wonder no more. It’s about land. The Department will assist with the environment impact assessment and suitability of location.
Partners don’t just offer assistance with practical matters. The Growing Beyond Borders tool from EY provides economic data and research on world markets.
“We are a genuine one stop shop,” says Zamxaka.
Walk-ins are welcome at the centre, appointments are preferable. “This gives us time to prepare and make sure the first conversation is a fruitful one.”
The one stop shop might have been set up to speed up the process of doing business in Gauteng, but the focus is long term. “We want businesses to come, and to stay,” says Zamxaka. Job creation is critical, and the impact of more businesses in the province can only contribute to employment opportunities.
The GIC has created much excitement, and has attracted countries looking to set up similar centres. Before the GIC was set up, a team from GGDA conducted fact finding missions to learn best practices on one-stop shop models in Rwanda, Singapore and Portugal. In turn, the GIC has shared learning experiences with local organisations such as Wesgro and Trade and Investment Kwazulu Natal.
Cynics will struggle with the positivity – it is just one centre in one province, and has only been open for two years. And yes, the SA economy is not in a good spot. Sometimes, we need to look beyond this and take heart from places like the GIC, where the intention to promote economic development has been met with action.
After all, you have got to start somewhere, and what better place than the GIC, located in the heart of South Africa’s business hub, providing turnkey solutions and aftercare services to investors.
This article was sponsored by Gauteng Growth and Development Agency