South Africa is a start-up
Loyalty to country more than loyalty to party was the message of the 18.6 million voters in South Africa’s 5th general elections. A 73% voter turnout and a free, fair and smooth running of the election was acknowledged by the many international observers. It is another feather in the cap for a normalising nation. It also gives recognition to the work of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in South Africa.
“South Africa is a start-up,” remarked Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Paramount Group, the largest independently owned aerospace and defence business in Africa, on its 20th anniversary celebration. He was comparing South Africa to his company, saying that after 20 years in business he still considers his company a start-up.
What is a start-up? “A start up is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed,” says Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker.
“Start-up is a state of mind,” says Adora Cheung, co-founder and CEO of Homejoy. “It’s when people join your company and are still making the explicit decision to forgo stability in exchange for the promise of tremendous growth and the excitement of making immediate impact.”
In the case of a country like South Africa one can argue that it has taken bold steps in transforming a divided country, innovating and inspiring new ways of reconciling a nation, not knowing whether the path it has taken will guarantee success. It is trying to maintain the so called benefits of apartheid and colonialism while addressing the issues of inequality created by these same systems, as citizens are finding each other on a diversity of forums, institutions and organisations to forge a dynamic, inclusive nation.
South Africa is ready to take a chance on its emerging and developing status for the promise of tremendous growth. As an active member of the international community it has used its influence to challenge the inequality and double standards exercised in some world bodies and has supported the call for their reform thus seeking to level the playing fields.
It has set in motion the idea of freedom and all the emotions that South Africans attach to it.