MEDELLÍN, COLOMBIA – Global Entrepreneurship Network President Jonathan Ortmans formally passed the host torch to the South African delegation for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress to be held in Johannesburg in 2017.

The South African ambassador to Venezuela, Thaninga Shope-Linney, and Councillor Ruby Mathang, of the Johannesburg Department of Economic Development, spoke at the ceremony, and thanked the city of Medellín for its hospitality. Mathang said the bar has been set high from the 2016 GEC, and that he hopes South Africa can top expectations.

“The globalization of entrepreneurship has brought an explosion of programs, startup communities and investment opportunities into a new field,” said Mathang. “We are here in Colombia, as South Africa, to inform the global entrepreneurship network that Johannesburg is here to collaborate and share world class best practices.”

The GEC will arrive in Africa for the first time at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, from March 13-17, 2017. The successful GEC bid has been a collaborative partnership between SEA Africa, the Department of Small Business Development, the City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, ABSA and Transnet.

“GEC 2017 is just one example of the Global Entrepreneurship Network’s commitment to helping the next generation of African entrepreneurs start and scale – rebranding the continent and permanently shifting perceptions around the world. We look forward to coming to South Africa,” said Ortmans.

The business sector, education and government leaders have been eager champions, and the Congress provides programs, guidance and discussions on research and policy to help ecosystem players identify the greatest areas of impact on future economic growth and trends. The GEC helps address these needs by identifying effective initiatives – in all types of economies – that positively impact entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

“The GEC will provide insight on best practices, which we will localize, for the South African market,” said Lindiwe Zulu, the South African Minister for Small Business Development. “I am further encouraged that South Africa’s delegation will also use the opportunity to spark networks and create strategic conversations with global investors in preparation for Africa’s GEC in 2017.”

The Local Organising Committee will lead efforts to engage other entrepreneurial organizations across the continent including the different provinces in South Africa to establish avenues for collaboration.

“Welcome to Africa,” Shope-Linney said. “Africa is the world in one continent.”