What it´s like to startup and start-up scene in South Africa? Part 1 – Johannesburg

What it´s like to startup and start-up scene in South Africa? Part 1 – Johannesburg

South Africa is a fascinating country with a rich history. It´s the southernmost state in Africa, with a gross domestic product of $ 294.8 billion, therefore, it is the economic engine in sub-Saharan Africa. Only Nigeria and Egypt have higher GDP in Africa.

So it is no wonder that a lively start-up and start-up scene has developed in South Africa as well. In that scope, the most relevant hubs are two cities: Johannesburg and Cape Town. While Johannesburg is the economic center of South Africa with countless international companies, Cape Town is characterized by a relaxed and more European lifestyle and is perceived more as a creative center. But for those who really know them, these perceptions are just as resilient as the comparisons between Frankfurt and Berlin.

There are around 4.5 million people in Johannesburg and 12.27 million in the province of Gauteng. For many years, gold mines have been the driving force behind the economy. The gold mining has made Johannesburg known and big and has attracted more industry.

Johannesburg: From the gold city to the economic center of South Africa

In the meantime, an active service and financial scene have developed in Johannesburg and a lot has happened in the creative industries as well.
In the city center since 2014, the district Maboneng developed into a creative and entertainment district. Here you can meet some founders and startups. You can work here at a common co-working space, the “The Open”.

Since the city is extremely extensive, there are also CoWorking offers in the districts. Well known and established for a long time is the basecamp in the district of Linden. It’s just over 15 minutes from downtown and offers everything founders and startups need fast internet, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and a thriving co-working community.


Township founders support

Overall, the startup and startup scene in Johannesburg is still quite heterogeneous. That’s why structures are so far barely perceptible. Of course, there are some interesting Twitter accounts that are worth following. These include JoziHub, StartupGrind Joburg, or Ntsiki Mkhize.
Ntsiki is herself a founder and has recognized a significant problem in South Africa. In the many townships, there are countless talents with great ideas. Ideas that solve real problems.
One of these foundations is by Ludwick Marishane. As a high school student, the young student has invented a way to take a shower without taking a shower. In the province of Limpopo, he wrote a business plan on his smartphone and sought investors. He is with DryBath a positive example of what Ntsiki has recognized as a problem and solves.


Solving real problems

What he and other founders or startups invent goes well beyond the thirty-seventh dating, sports or party app.
Where a continuous supply of water or electricity is just as self-evident as the fast Internet, it is about solving problems of basic needs.
But Ntsiki has found that often the know-how and the structure are barely enough to scale the idea beyond the township and make it big. That’s what she cares about. She gives seminars and supports founders in making their ideas big. “There is often a lack of awareness that there is a market for the products in other parts of the country or in Africa. This is often a pity because the potential is lost here”, says Ntsiki.

Our reporter Andreas with Ntsiki Mkhize – Miss South Africa Finalist 2015. She now supports entrepreneurs.

To give founders access to knowledge, there is the My big StartUp platform. Here she explains with other know-how carriers in short videos founders and startups which skills they need for further growth. Through various video tutorials, startups learn everything they need to know.

You will find the German version of this article here. Many thanks to Pedro for the translation.

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