Entrepreneurial activity lies at the heart of economic growth. SA therefore needs entrepreneurs and innovative businesses with high-growth potential – businesses that are able to create jobs, pay taxes, contribute to social welfare, advance transformation and generate profits. The country needs start-ups, and it needs businesses that are willing and able to invest in new start-ups. In short, SA has to cultivate a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem that is able to promote enterprise development in all shapes and forms – from the initial ideation and incubation phase to start-ups, from SMEs to large JSE-listed and multinational corporations that can develop smaller entities within their supply chain. All this is key to driving our sluggish economy back towards a trajectory of economic growth and prosperity.

The JSE plays a crucial role in the enabling of enterprise development. Our multifaceted interventions strive to achieve financial inclusion and break down barriers to investment and socio-economic growth. We seek to improve financial literacy in SA, encourage a culture of savings and investment, and guide those who are already invested in the JSE along their journey by deepening their knowledge of financial markets. Ultimately, these efforts are expected to grow our capital markets.

To facilitate this, the JSE offers the AltX platform for the listing of smaller businesses as well as the JSE Black Stockbroking Firms Enterprise Development Programme, which enables smaller black-owned entities in the market to play a more meaningful and financially rewarding part in the economy.

Furthermore, our flagship CSI initiative – the annual JSE Investment Challenge – aims to empower young South Africans from diverse cultural, geographic and economic backgrounds. The JSE specifically targets schools in rural areas to level the playing field and involve learners who would otherwise not be exposed to the financial markets. It’s a fun, virtual game that now attracts approximately 4 000 tertiary students and 18 000 girls and boys – nearly half of whom are from underprivileged high schools.

Our Mentorship Catalyst Programme for unemployed graduates, from institutions such as Fort Hare and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, goes into their communities to mentor local learners and raise further awareness for the Investment Challenge.

These efforts are already reaping rewards: over the past years we’ve seen a spike in learners from underprivileged schools among the winners of the Schools Challenge. And this year’s University Challenge, which carries a R25 000 cash prize and the opportunity to travel to a stock exchange overseas, was for the first time won by an all-female team.

The game equips young people to take charge of their financial future. This could lead to a career as a stockbroker or trader, starting their own business and listing it on the JSE, or simply being in control of their retirement planning.

In our quest to make financial education as appealing as possible, we are gamifying it even further. We have linked our online learning modules to the Public Investment Challenge, which is open to anybody wanting to learn how to trade on the JSE. This year about 8 000 participants are playing in this virtual ‘sandbox’, experimenting with virtual currency before investing any real money with the stockbrokers.

The JSE also facilitates free ‘Power Hour’ sessions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, where expert guest speakers assist our existing investors in expanding their knowledge of various financial topics about trading and investing.

In September, the JSE partnered with LeaderEx in Sandton, the continent’s largest gathering of business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs. The intention was to learn from top leaders, prepare for a digital future, unlock creativity and start or grow a business.

By providing financial and investment education to South Africans – from an early age and at all socio-economic levels – the JSE creates opportunities to participate in economic activity. This lays the groundwork that is essential for enterprise development and economic growth.

Zeona Jacobs
Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs

Image: Hanlie Huisamen