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Despite the fact that it has been officially in recession since the first quarter of 2017, and despite the persistent social tensions and stark inequalities, South Africa is still Africa’s leading economy, according to a 2016 ranking. As evidence, over half the electricity produced in sub-Saharan Africa is South African. With a young, English-speaking population and a wealth of mining resources, it has maintained its position in international trade and is positioned as a hub for the region and the entire continent. So, how do you go about setting up your company? What precautions should you take? What types of companies should you choose? Experts and entrepreneurs answer your questions.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the profitable sectors in the market, which is made up of 50 million inhabitants, only 12 million of whom have a standard of living comparable to our own.

Delphine TILLY PETIT
I’d say that the agri-food sector is obviously one of the profitable sectors for demographic reasons; the sustainable living sector is also a profitable sector: South Africa is one of the countries, and Johannesburg is one of the capitals, that have signed the Agenda 2063 agreement, in other words a 50-year agreement; then there’s the digital sector as there’s a young population eager for technology and digital communication. Although the country has gone into recession, the mining and agricultural sectors are still profitable and recovering strongly after a fairly difficult 2016.
Setting up a company in South Africa means choosing a region in which you’re going to establish yourself, and as we’ll see here, this is a strategic decision.

Dominique Brunin
If you’re looking to set up business in South Africa with a partner or on your own, you have to make a decision: do I set up in Johannesburg, do I set up in Cape Town, or do I possibly set up in Durban, on the Indian Ocean coast, depending on my products and access to my markets. If you’re in the agricultural and food business, you’re more likely to choose Cape Town or Durban; if you’re in the new technologies or the digital industry, you may choose Johannesburg, but every time you must decide and check on what is the best possible location for your business.
Once you’ve chosen your location, your first task is then to sort out your visa so that you can invest locally and, as we’ll see, you’ll have to have a certain level of savings to hand.

Laurent Padoux
It’s extremely difficult to get a work visa in SA. When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re bringing an investment with you, you can have a visa as an investor. I think the current minimum investment is around 350 to 400,000 €.
Once you’re over that hurdle, you’ll discover one of the advantages of South Africa

Serge Boscher
For an entrepreneur, it doesn’t take long to set up a company, which explains why we have around 200 French men and women who have already set up their company in South Africa and they employ several thousand people.

If you follow the existing procedures to the letter, you’ll have your company up and running within a month. You have to negotiate 6 major hurdles: firstly, you have to register your company on the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) website, which will cost you about 15€, then, with your CIPC certificate in hand, you have to open a local bank account. The next step is a visit to the SARS, the equivalent of France’s Bercy, followed by registration with the UIF, which is similar to France’s URSSAF; it’s the government authority that will oversee your future employees. At the same time, you have to register with the Benefits Office, which pays sick leave benefit resulting from an accident or illness. There are 4 different types of companies to choose from: the most common, the private LTD, requires no minimum capital.

Serge Boscher
You have private companies which are known as “private LTD”, the equivalent of the “sociétés anonymes” in France, and there are micro-enterprises as in France. It’s generally a modern economy. South Africa is the most modern economy on the African continent: it’s the most modern country from the point of view of quality of life and it’s also the most industrialised, so as far as the day-to-day workings of the business world are concerned, it’s not much different to France.
Now, as we generally advise, get some help from, for example, the Franco-South African CCI, because it has a sound knowledge of the public authorities and of the private consultancy networks, lawyers, tax specialists, legal experts and communication companies.

Dominique Brunin
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa is there to help and facilitate the integration of companies moving into the Franco-South African ecosystem, which is extremely rich, diversified and fascinating, and it’s also there to help break down the entrepreneur’s feeling of isolation, to help him find physical premises in which to stores his files, with the incubator and workstations that the French Chamber of Commerce provides for French companies that are looking to move here.
In addition to crime, with homicide rates ten and even twenty times higher than in France and often reported in the media, South Africa, like other countries, has its own set of problems and this is just one of them.

Serge Boscher
The main human resources problem for SA and the other countries is that of skills; about fifteen years ago, South Africa introduced a system of positive discrimination, “Black broad business empowerment”, in favour of sectors of the population who were discriminated against during the Apartheid period. All the non-whites are therefore concerned, so they are favoured, but they still have to have the qualifications.
With a corporation tax rate of 28%, an extremely sophisticated banking system, an international-standard tax administration and very modern infrastructures, South Africa is still a country to invest in, especially if you’re looking to develop throughout Southern Africa and even as far as Kenya and Nigeria. And finally, one last piece of advice before you leave us…

Laurent Padoux
The key to success in SA is how you work with the black people; I think that’s very important, you can’t get anything done if you don’t allow black employees to gain access the responsibility, so that’s a constraint, indeed it’s more than a constraint, it’s an obligation to train your employees, and the positive discrimination policies in favour of the blacks and Indians – the populations that were discriminated against in the past – are a major factor for a foreign entrepreneur. It’s very important to establish extremely trusting relations with your employees and also with these populations who may be your employees, customers or suppliers. I think it’s very important, and indeed the key to success.


Video content: Despite the fact that it has been officially in recession since the first quarter of 2017, and despite the persistent social tensions and stark inequalities, South Africa is still Africa’s leading economy, according to a 2016 ranking. As evidence, over half the electricity produced in sub-Saharan Africa is South African. With a young, English-speaking population and a wealth of mining resources, it has maintained its position in international trade and is positioned as a hub for the region and the entire continent. So, how do you go about setting up your company? What precautions should you take? What types of companies should you choose? Experts and entrepreneurs answer your questions.
First of all, let’s take a quick look at the profitable sectors in the market, which is made up of 50 million inhabitants, only 12 million of whom have a standard of living comparable to our own.
Delphine TILLY PETIT:
I’d say that the agri-food sector is obviously one of the profitable sectors for demographic reasons; the sustainable living sector is also a profitable sector: South Africa is one of the countries, and Johannesburg is one of the capitals, that have signed the Agenda 2063 agreement, in other words a 50-year agreement; then there’s the digital sector as there’s a young population eager for technology and digital communication. Although the country has gone into recession, the mining and agricultural sectors are still profitable and recovering strongly after a fairly difficult 2016.
Setting up a company in South Africa means choosing a region in which you’re going to establish yourself, and as we’ll see here, this is a strategic decision.
Dominique Brunin
If you’re looking to set up business in South Africa with a partner or on your own, you have to make a decision: do I set up in Johannesburg, do I set up in Cape Town, or do I possibly set up in Durban, on the Indian Ocean coast, depending on my products and access to my markets. If you’re in the agricultural and food business, you’re more likely to choose Cape Town or Durban; if you’re in the new technologies or the digital industry, you may choose Johannesburg, but every time you must decide and check on what is the best possible location for your business.
Once you’ve chosen your location, your first task is then to sort out your visa so that you can invest locally and, as we’ll see, you’ll have to have a certain level of savings to hand.
Laurent Padoux
It’s extremely difficult to get a work visa in SA. When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re bringing an investment with you, you can have a visa as an investor. I think the current minimum investment is around 350 to 400,000 €.
Once you’re over that hurdle, you’ll discover one of the advantages of South Africa

Serge Boscher
For an entrepreneur, it doesn’t take long to set up a company, which explains why we have around 200 French men and women who have already set up their company in South Africa and they employ several thousand people.

If you follow the existing procedures to the letter, you’ll have your company up and running within a month. You have to negotiate 6 major hurdles: firstly, you have to register your company on the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) website, which will cost you about 15€, then, with your CIPC certificate in hand, you have to open a local bank account. The next step is a visit to the SARS, the equivalent of France’s Bercy, followed by registration with the UIF, which is similar to France’s URSSAF; it’s the government authority that will oversee your future employees. At the same time, you have to register with the Benefits Office, which pays sick leave benefit resulting from an accident or illness. There are 4 different types of companies to choose from: the most common, the private LTD, requires no minimum capital.

Serge Boscher
You have private companies which are known as “private LTD”, the equivalent of the “sociétés anonymes” in France, and there are micro-enterprises as in France. It’s generally a modern economy. South Africa is the most modern economy on the African continent: it’s the most modern country from the point of view of quality of life and it’s also the most industrialised, so as far as the day-to-day workings of the business world are concerned, it’s not much different to France.
Now, as we generally advise, get some help from, for example, the Franco-South African CCI, because it has a sound knowledge of the public authorities and of the private consultancy networks, lawyers, tax specialists, legal experts and communication companies.
Dominique Brunin
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in South Africa is there to help and facilitate the integration of companies moving into the Franco-South African ecosystem, which is extremely rich, diversified and fascinating, and it’s also there to help break down the entrepreneur’s feeling of isolation, to help him find physical premises in which to stores his files, with the incubator and workstations that the French Chamber of Commerce provides for French companies that are looking to move here.
In addition to crime, with homicide rates ten and even twenty times higher than in France and often reported in the media, South Africa, like other countries, has its own set of problems and this is just one of them.

Serge Boscher
The main human resources problem for SA and the other countries is that of skills; about fifteen years ago, South Africa introduced a system of positive discrimination, “Black broad business empowerment”, in favour of sectors of the population who were discriminated against during the Apartheid period. All the non-whites are therefore concerned, so they are favoured, but they still have to have the qualifications.
With a corporation tax rate of 28%, an extremely sophisticated banking system, an international-standard tax administration and very modern infrastructures, South Africa is still a country to invest in, especially if you’re looking to develop throughout Southern Africa and even as far as Kenya and Nigeria. And finally, one last piece of advice before you leave us…
Laurent Padoux
The key to success in SA is how you work with the black people; I think that’s very important, you can’t get anything done if you don’t allow black employees to gain access the responsibility, so that’s a constraint, indeed it’s more than a constraint, it’s an obligation to train your employees, and the positive discrimination policies in favour of the blacks and Indians – the populations that were discriminated against in the past – are a major factor for a foreign entrepreneur. It’s very important to establish extremely trusting relations with your employees and also with these populations who may be your employees, customers or suppliers. I think it’s very important, and indeed the key to success.

Linked key words: How to create your company, South Africa, create, company, sectors, partners, agribusiness, new technologies, digital, work visas

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