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VUT hosts South African-Italian Summit

VUT's Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park (SGSTP) hosted the Italian Summit on 20 October. The key objective of the summit was to create stronger business ties between Italy and South Africa through the sharing of international best practices, while also educating entrepreneurs to have an integrated and holistic approach to their businesses, thus creating economic growth and social development.

Guests included the Regional Minister of Agriculture in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, Simona Casselli, and Director General of the Gauteng Province Phindile Baleni. Local small business owners and companies, as well as funding agencies such as SEDA and GEP, were also in attendance.

Casselli said interaction between entrepreneurs and business people/corporates plays an important role in the promotion of international investments and that interactions, such as this summit, makes for personal contact and builds trust as well as better relations. Casselli praised the Science Park for its active role in stimulating economic growth.

Dr Joe Molete, Executive Director of the Science Park, gave the audience an overall background of the park and its purpose, objectives, aims and future development plans. The SGSTP, which is situated on 172 hectares of land and boasts of training and incubation facilities, as well as a manufacturing and industrial design unit, plans to raise R1 billion in the next four years to create economic growth and global competitiveness.

Dr Molete further presented the typical game plan of an entrepreneur, which is interlinking ideas, profits and community impact in order to achieve a successful business venture.

"You cannot make profit if you don't make an impact in the community. Entrepreneurs don't talk challenges, but rather ideas, and with those ideas have to work towards making feasible products that will generate profits for them," Dr Molete said.

An exhibition formed part of the summit, giving delegates an opportunity to network and share business ideas as well as market their products and services. Companies and business owners were given a platform to give presentations and open the floor for further discussions on the challenges faced by small business, as well as ideas on how to grow and contribute towards economic growth.

Bob Dilraj, the CEO of the Cadiway Group, gave a presentation on performance improvement solutions. In his talk, he had a simplistic view of what capitalism means, while also showing the audience the importance of focused organisational and employee performance improvement.

The following characteristics of the mind of a successful entrepreneur were shared with the audience:

1. Empathetic2. Problem-finders3. Risk-takers4. Networkers5. Observers6. Creators7. Resilient8. Reflective

He concluded that in order for entrepreneurs to develop holistically, they have to be business stimulators, leadership drivers and have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to succeed, the most important one being reflective on all actions performed.

The VUT Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park also formed part of the South African-Italian Summit, which took place on 18-19 October at the Hyatt in Rosebank.