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Vuyisa Qabaka reflects on his visit to the “Start-Up Nation”

August 9, 2013

On 30 July, the Cape Board hosted a “Drink ‘n Think” for senior communal leadership with Vuyisa Qabaka, who recently returned from Israel on Reeva Forman’s “Israel Now” tour and the Israeli Presidential Conference. Qabaka, 32, was put forward by the Cape Board to participate on this trip, as he is a young local innovator who wears many hats: Chief Connector at EmpowerWeb, an experiment in creating broad-based BEE groups using the Internet and social networking tools; Cape Town head of the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum – it is in this capacity that Qabaka works with the Cape Board on the Black-Jewish Entrepreneurs Network (B-JEN); and Managing Director of Abaphumeleli Business Consultants, which provides business advisory services to entrepreneurship and SME networks and forums.

The focus of the tour was economy and business, and this year’s group comprised of Qabaka, Azar Jammine (Econometrix), Frans Cronje (SA Institute of Race Relations), Ruan Jooste (Financial Mail) and Ryan Creswell (Cape Argus). Qabaka described how impressed he was by Israel’s robust democracy and economically active youth. “South Africa’s biggest challenge is inactive youth”, said Qabaka, which he contrasted to the economically active young Israelis he saw throughout the trip. Due to the country’s small size, Israeli technology start-ups automatically look to serve the global market, including Africa. With an economically active population of only 15%, versus over 70% in Israel, Qabaka believes that South African start-ups must emulate Israel and look to serve markets beyond the country’s borders.

Forman also took her group to Ramallah, which has an unemployment rate of 35% and even higher youth unemployment. Qabaka sees the West Bank’s dependence on foreign aid to fuel the economy as unsustainable for a future Palestinian state, and thatin order to become economically viable, it must invest more in technology and exportable businesses. He remarked how impressed he was by the extent to which the Jewish Diaspora contributed to the establishment the State of Israel, and foresees a brighter future for both South Africa and a future Palestinian state, should they succeed at mobilising their own diasporas to invest in their homelands.



From → Opinion, Youth

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