In response to a call by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), the principal sponsor of the 37th International Small Business Congress held in Johannesburg on 15-18 September 2012, and African Ministers and Deputies present, the ISBC Steering Committee included in the traditional end-of-Congress communique a declaration of 2013 as the Year of African Entrepreneurship. The Declaration was read during the closing session of the Congress by then ISBC Steering Committee President, Ms Catherine Swift of Canada. Osiba Research, the Congress Organiser, undertook to work under the supervision of the dti to undertake the necessary steps to take the initiative forward and turn it into practical reality across the African continent. The practical outcome of that Declaration and commitment was the establishment of ISBC Africa several years after the Congress.

The Congress brings together a wide range of players in the entrepreneurship and small business development ecosystem, ranging from policymakers in government to public and private agencies, researchers and academics, consultants and business advisers, development and commercial financing institutions, large corporations, business organisations, and entrepreneurs themselves, for a focused discussion on a range of issues affecting entrepreneurs and small businesses and their promotion. Information on cutting-edge research and leading development practices is exchanged at these Congresses, and extensive global networking takes place, making the Congresses a potent platform for informing and influencing future directions in entrepreneurship and small business development, and for fostering cross-border collaboration among a range of players in the field.