2020 Annual - (released February 2021)
SA's quarterly Private Equity & Venture Capital magazine
by Michael Avery
When I'm old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say, “Wow, that was an adventure,” not, “Wow, I sure have felt safe”. The words of Tom Preston Virna, the co-founder of GetUp!, really resonate with the attitude of most entrepreneurs that I've had the
pleasure of meeting.
There's a certain streak that runs through the slightly mad men and women who forgo the safety of salaried employment to cast away from safe harbours and venture out into new lands, where ‘there be dragons’. It's the story of grit and determination, the stuff that really fuels economic growth, creating something new where once there was nothing, and solving for public problems. And it's something that I have seen play itself out through the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, in abundance.
Of course, it also helps to have deep-pocketed, and experienced, equity partners who can help steer these businesses through uncharted waters. The crisis has revealed the strength and resolve of the private equity model, which has risen to the surface.
Some deals done at the top of cycles come full circle and make great comeback stories, such as the Edcon Retailability transaction, while other deals reflect the evolving and ever-changing terrain of business, buying and building the assets that will create the bedrock of
our economy in the future, such as Actis’ acquisition of Octotel and RSAWeb.
The annual edition allows us to press pause and reflect on the entrepreneurs and their equity partners who manage to take the pandemic and the politics of this tumultuous country in their stride, as they steer their businesses towards sustained long-term growth and prosperity.
Along with the healthcare workers, these entrepreneurs are our country’s true heroes. And we celebrate them and hope that government starts to realise that it should be doing everything in its power to make South Africa the preferred destination to build, grow and exit great businesses, as we chart a way out of this pandemic-induced economic crisis.