Taking the lead

The JSE continues to drive empowerment of youth and SMEs through financial education

Taking the lead

The JSE has long been an advocate of addressing the need to develop a culture of saving and investing. It has taken this message across the country over the decades through roadshows, engagement with schools, its Investment Challenge and, over the past four years, through its sponsorship of Leaderex.

Leaderex is the largest exhibition and conference on the continent for business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs; collectively some 750 people speak and present across 350 events over two days. It is an incredible platform of professionals, according to Mpho Ledwaba, the JSE’s Head of Marketing, and ‘an opportunity to reach the 16 888 registered attendees that include executives, directors, managers, entrepreneurs, professionals, government officials and high potentials from all realms of sectors, inclusive of those still in the education system’.

One of the unique services offered at Leaderex was the one-on-one coaching facility. Interested parties were invited to present a 60-second summary of a specific challenge or goal to any one of some 50 business or executive coaches who, over 20 minutes, provided their expert opinion related to leadership, strategy, innovation, career development or entrepreneurship. ‘We had a number of JSE professionals presenting various topics at Leaderex, which highlights our mandate to contribute to creating a financially literate population, inclusive of educating people about investing on the JSE,’ says Ledwaba. ‘The masterclasses we presented aimed to provide knowledge and information to business owners on how to grow their businesses by listing and investing on the JSE.’

Those masterclasses included what a potential listing looks like; business value to deliver on the national agenda; women’s next-level advancement in business; ETFs; the definition of an index and how we use them in SA; and careers in the exchange environment. Representatives from JSE-listed companies also highlighted the role the exchange plays in the market, the advantages of being listed, and how to build a company ready for listing.

Entrepreneurs and SMEs were particularly interested in former FNB CEO-turned-venture capitalist Michael Jordaan’s presentation on ‘the journey of a high-growth entrepreneur in Africa’, which, says Ledwaba, is especially impactful for those on the threshold of using new technologies to enhance their business-development programmes, and something the JSE also includes in its services. ‘We believe that entrepreneurs, particularly emerging and small businesses, can gain enormously from being vested in the exchange. We essentially demystified the JSE for them, with particular emphasis on the mistakes that young people and emerging entrepreneurs make with their money so that they can establish a foundation of financial growth.’

The exhibition attracted a number of youth, a large percentage of whom were surprised that, for as a little as R300 a month, they could become investors. Ledwaba also says a common question related to how to become a trader. Ledwaba emphasises that the youth, young entrepreneurs and SMEs are at an ideal time in their lives to be receptive to financial market knowledge. ‘They are in a continuous learning process and open to any information and learning that assists them in building a business. The JSE is cognisant of this, which is why Leaderex and platforms like it provide us with an opportunity to expose them to the entire financial-sector ecosystem.

‘In my experience, once the youth and young entrepreneurs are provided with the right information, they become keen to use the JSE as a vehicle to raise capital or profits, or even just as a savings mechanism. Most importantly, these are our future corporates, who – if they start early enough and become immersed in a habit of savings and investment – are also drivers of the economy, employers and leaders.’

By Kerry Dimmer
Image: Gallo/Getty Images