I have been living in my home country for the past 4 months with my wife and child. It was meant to be just a visit - but we are planning on returning in August for an indefinite period of time. There are many reasons for this decision - beautiful city, family, cost of living but one of the biggest reasons for both my wife and myself is the incredible amount of entrepreneurial spirit and opportunity in this country.
I spent last night at a dinner with about 20+ social media entrepeneurs in Cape Town last night. It was an interesting and exciting time. It is a dinner that happens monthly on the 27th of each month - they rotate the dinners from one city to the next - Cape Town, Jo'burg, Durban etc. It is known as 27Dinner and is organized by the affable Dave Duarte who I had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago through an old friend while spending a weekend in a cute little town called Stanford. Dave is a great guy and runs multiple projects - among one of the most interesting is his work with Huddlemind.
If you explore the link to the 27Dinner wiki you will get a chance to check out many interesting companies and bloggers in South Africa. Several of these guys have gone global, or are partly owned by larger companies. There were two speakers last night - first was Eric Edelstein who has started several successful companies the better known one being incuBeta. His latest venture is SpringLeap which allows you to vote on t-shirt designs and then have them made up and shipped off to stores around the country - if not the world. It is a proudly South African company with all the work, printing, CMT of t-shirts being done in SA.
The other person that I got to hear speak last night was Charl Norman. He gave a little talk on building social networks - and the work that he has done, very successfully, with at least 3 social networks. The first and biggest being Blueworld (which just partnered with one of South Africa's biggest media companies 24.com). Blueworld is a specifically South African social network - working on bringing South African's together, and giving them a chance to meet people they haven't met before.
It was a really great time. It is incredible how active social media/new media is in South Africa. How many of these young, talented and excited people are invovled in doing really cutting edge and interesting stuff. It is so cool hanging out at the tip of Africa experiencing something that you wouldn't expect to find. How people in the rest of the world really don't get what is going on in Africa today. I wish they did, I wish everyone could focus on what is great about this country and this continent.