As the Global Entrepreneurship Congress draws near, the week-long event has begun to crystalize behind a diverse collection of sessions, speakers and in-depth masterclasses focused on how digital disruption is transforming economies and making vast improvements to daily life.

Now in its ninth year, GEC 2017 is set to bring world-class organizations and thousands of startup champions from more than 160 countries to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Among the officials welcoming global delegates to the country is South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg.

Highlighting the event will be a ministerial session featuring South African Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu and high-level government officials responsible for leading entrepreneurship policy in their countries. Led by GEN, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the South Africa Ministry of Small Business Development, the session will offer Ministers an opportunity to contribute to and respond to policies and initiatives being gathered by experts across the world to create a more robust enabling environment for entrepreneurs. 

With an overarching theme of digital disruption, GEC 2017 examines how technological advances are revolutionizing massive industries and how those who embrace innovative new processes, policies and programs will be best positioned to seize the opportunities in front of them.

The Global Entrepreneurship Network and its partners will provide informative sessions and workshops to engage participants and provide an avenue for networking and connecting beyond the Congress. Some topics include: Access to Data + Leapfrog Opportunities for Global Startups; The Next Wave of Digital Disruption; City Ecosystem Performance; Big Data Analytics + Technology; Catalyzing Entrepreneurship Across Africa and more.

Speakers include:

  • Adrian Gore, group chief executive at Discovery
  • Arvind Gupta, the head and co-founder of the Digital India Foundation
  • Ebele Okobi, public policy director for Africa at Facebook
  • Ali Faramawy, president of Microsoft Middle East & Africa
  • Victor Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  • Shivani Shiroya, CEO and founder of Tala, a US-based fintech startup
  • Jabu Mabuza, serial entrepreneur and chairman of Telkom SA
  • Kanyi Maqubela, partner, Collaborative Fund
  • Dan Isenberg, founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project
  • Lesa Mitchell, managing director for TechStars in Kansas City

Bob Dorf, serial entrepreneur and author of the “Startup Owner’s Manual,” will lead a masterclass on product market fit for scalable startups. Other practical masterclasses include sessions powered by tech giants Facebook, which will focus on digital impact and using Facebook and Instagram platforms to grow a venture, and Microsoft, which will have a masterclass on big data analytics and technology.

Entrepreneurs will have the chance to not only network peer-to-peer, but also have the chance to connect with investors and potential mentors from across the globe. Startup founders from GEN’s Startup Open, partner pitch competitions, and South Africa, will take the main stage during the GEC, as well as “disrupt” the exhibition hall in designated pitch corners to share their startup story and industry-disrupting venture.

Also during the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, the annual GEN Compass Awards will recognize the outstanding achievement of individuals and organizations who are dedicated to championing startups, encouraging economic development and ensuring new firm formation.