Belgian entrepreneurs gain insight at USB
Impulse Centre Growth Management for Medium Size Enterprises (iGMO) in Belgium was recently on an economic mission through South Africa. Dubbed an ‘International Inspiration Tour’ with a group of 40 entrepreneurs visiting the Western Cape between 10 and 16 November, the initiative hopes to further strengthen Belgian-South African business relations.
The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), the top business school in South Africa for entrepreneurs, was host to 40 Belgian entrepreneurs through its strong ties to Vlerick – the oldest business and management school in Europe. The tour included a number of lectures, company visits and cultural sightseeing activities in order to gain first-hand understanding of the business culture in the area.
As a knowledge centre, the school’s Impulse Centre Growth Management for Medium Size Enterprises (iGMO), has 187 active owner-managed members with a total turnover of about 30 billion euro (500 billion ZAR) with 400 000 FTE employment. The average growth rate is more than 10 % per year.
Belgium is one of South Africa’s top 15 trade partners, as well as an important source of inbound tourism. Professor Hans Crijns, director of iGMO and partner and professor at Vlerick Business School says “with the strong links between the business schools, a trip to South Africa is timely.”
“The programme consisted of a variety of activities. Practitioners as well as academics were our guest speakers and hosts. We strongly believe that knowledge can be multiplied if it is shared.
With this tour I believe we answer our mission in order to acquire shared knowledge on how entrepreneurial companies expand and survive in a ‘raplex’ (rapid and complex) environment.
We want to inspire for innovation and growth. For aspiring entrepreneurs and growing companies it is essential to uncover new ideas and create meaningful connections to drive sustainable business growth” added Crijns.”
Apart from meetings with Cape-based entrepreneurs, and company visits, some of the USB lectures included Building resilient states in a transforming world: Economics in emerging countries – RSA as a case study, by Prof Andre Roux, head of Futures Studies programmes, Building sustainable societies in a complex world – dimensions of African futures, by Dr Morné Mostert, director of the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), and Digital innovation in Africa, by Martin Butler, head of MBA programmes.
“It is mainly the commitment of all the participants, organisers, hosts and speakers that made this edition a memorable and successful venture,” said Crijns. “I thank all the people and organisations that made this venture a success. The Belgian Embassy, headed by Ambassador Vanderhasselt, was very cooperative in organising opportunities for networking.
“In particular I thank the University of Stellenbosch Business School, represented by Prof Piet Naudé and the USB International Affairs team Nyambura Mwagiru, Sheena Maneveld, and Samantha Walbrugh-Parsadh, who were in fact the driving forces in organising this tour. Their aim is to make our professional, academic or personal endeavours memorable and actionable.
USB is perfectly aligned with our own iGMO mission. We are connecting with the brightest minds and exploring unique settings – the events took place at original and surprising venues.
In our group we have various Belgian companies that conduct business in South Africa. It goes without saying that visiting some of these companies was a learning experience. This journey provided insights and fueled motivation for innovative thinking.”
For more information on becoming an international student at USB visit the International Student webpage.