Why & How
The rationale for the InvestGardenRoute project is to grow the economy of the Garden Route and provide employment so that the potential of the many opportunities can be realised.
The Garden Route region boasts a spectacularly beautiful natural environment that offers an ideal location for a relaxed, safe lifestyle with a range of outdoor activities. Infrastructure and services are of a high standard. Outside of the metropolitan cities, the region is arguably one of the most sought after areas to live in South Africa.
The Western Cape Provincial Government is striving to be the leading Province in the country. In its drive to ensure economic growth and job creation, it has set a target of 300 000 jobs being created over the 2014-19 period. The three leading economic sectors that have been identified are tourism, agriculture and oil and gas. These sectors are also integral to economic activity in the Garden Route region.
In the seven year period from 2009 to 2015, the Eden Region (comprising Bitou, Knysna, George, Mossel Bay, Hessequa, Kannaland and Oudtshoorn) has grown by an average of 2,1% per annum. The Gross Domestic Product for the Region is 8% of the Western Cape.
The global economic and financial crisis took effect in the Garden Route region in 2009 resulting in business closures and contractions. These circumstances have had a profound effect on local and regional economies. One example of the effect of the downturn is illustrated by the number of passenger movements through George Airport. The peak of 652 000 in 2007 was only exceeded again in 2015 (698 000) after declining to a low of 526 000 in 2010. In 2016 a figure of 738 000 was achieved.
As a result of the downturn, unemployment continues in a faltering South African economy that lacks in investor confidence exacerbated by national government’s inability to provide policy certainty. The weak currency does however offer opportunities to export products and to attract inbound international tourism.
Even though finance is available for investments, the SME (small and medium enterprise) sectors (businesses employing up to 500 employees) continue to experience uncertainties to gain access to and approval of funding facilities to retain, expand or establish business enterprises.
Continuing the Why
The Garden Route has distinct location attractions. If we match this with the efforts being made to make the Western Cape an attractive investment destination, then the potential and opportunities offered by the Garden Route become apparent.
The objective of InvestGardenRoute is to encourage collaboration and partnering among stakeholders to consciously work together to grow the regional economy that will improve the wellbeing of its community, increase levels of employment, maintain a quality lifestyle and ensure sustainability of resources and of the envirnoment. The objective is therefore to turn opportunities into viable, sustainable projects.
How do we find a Solution?
In simple terms we should Grow the Economy
If we analyse the past seven years our regional economy has probably underperformed by 10-15%. This means that the “economic cake” should ideally have been 15% larger than it is at present to provide a more comfortable and sustainable environment for all of us, i.e. business, the jobs market and our citizens. While it is not possible to instantly correct this situation we need to devise ways to “catch up” on the underperformance in the next three to five years by finding ways to grow our regional economy faster.
The Western Cape Provincial Economic Opportunities Ministry has set a target of adding 300 000 jobs in the Province over the 2014-19 period. The Garden Route region makes up 8% of the Provincial economy, so it should be contributing at least 25 000 of these additional jobs.
The promotion of investment and economic development opportunities and turning them into actual, viable projects is not a precise science.
Following the 2008/09 crisis, different approaches across the world to achieve successful economic growth have been refined. Collaboration has become the new “buzz” word.
Collaboration (often also described as partnering) is now considered to be an important ingredient for success as is the emphasis to ensure that key economic drivers within regional economies are nurtured and developed. In some countries it would appear that the availability of and access to finance for the SME sector has improved – such support is still needed in South Africa.
InvestGardenRoute will serve as a catalyst to invite ideas from stakeholders with the objective that role players in a particular “space” are able to discuss, exchange views and collaborate with each other to bring a product or service to market where each contributor will share in the benefits. Ernst & Young recently contributed an article to Harvard Business Review describing how such collaboration is contributing to advances in technology.
The role of the catalyst will be to contribute or promote ideas, to link and coordinate the efforts to bring participants together to devise, manufacture, market and sell products or services with the necessary financial and managerial support.
It is the ambition of InvestGardenRoute to provide the platform where individuals, investors, companies, communities, economic sector groups and other stakeholders can collaborate to grow the economy.