Editorial: growth opportunities in a sluggish market

The JSE is down, the rand is down and next week Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will probably tell us that South Africa’s GDP growth forecast is also down. These are worrisome trends, but they don’t come as a surprise for CFOs, who have seen the writing on the wall for some time now.

At the same time, CFOs know it is not impossible to grow a business faster than the economy. Someone like Spur's longtime CFO Ronel van Dijk proves that on a daily basis. She was kind enough to chat to us this week and explained how innovation and Africa-expansion keep the restaurant group on top of its game.

Just like Spur, many South African companies are doing well in the rest of the continent. This week brewer SABMiller reported sluggish growth worldwide, but Africa and Latin America were exceptions with volume growth of 4 and 5 percent in the second quarter.

In a recent exclusive interview with CFO South Africa MTN's CFO Brett Goschen gave some valuable tips about doing business in Nigeria and Ghana. However, more and more CFOs are nervously looking to the ebola developments in West-Africa, something also mentioned by Spur's Van Dijk. Until now the virus has been contained to mainly Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and this weekend IMF boss Christine Lagarde called on the international business world to continue investing and creating jobs in African countries. "We should be very careful not to terrify the planet in respect of the whole of Africa," she said.

In the short term analysts expect the South African markets to be driven by what happens globally, where the risk appetite is low at the moment. There is a huge concern that the "world is going to slow down". With the image of the South African investment climate in need of a boost, all eyes are now on Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who can do a lot to restore some faith in the government's economic policies when he delivers his first budget speech on 22 October.