The great thing about South Africa being broken

South Africa’s economic and political problems have negative effects on the lives of its citizens, but this environment can also birth proficient entrepreneurs.

This is according to Monero lead maintainer and Tari Labs co-founder Riccardo Spagni, who was speaking at the Chain Reaction event in Johannesburg, hosted by Luno and Blockchain Entrepreneurs Club South Africa.

Spagni has been involved with the cryptocurrency Monero since its early days, and he has created multiple cryptocurrency-related businesses while living and working in South Africa.

When asked whether he would ever consider leaving the country, he said that he still sees the potential for growth locally.

“I love South Africa. I’m born and raised in South Africa, and I’ll leave only if I absolutely have to,” Spagni said. “I think there is scope and potential for South Africa as a country.”

Breeding entrepreneurs

Spagni did acknowledge that the country has serious problems, however, especially when it comes to regulation and business.

“Some of the things in South Africa are so broken that we’ve been forced to become entrepreneurs, and you don’t find that overseas,” he said. “Overseas, they don’t need to sort out their own water, electricity, and police force.”

“That is great, because it means you constantly have to seek your own opportunities.”

Starting an international business in South Africa can be difficult, however, thanks to strict exchange control regulation from the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

Spagni said these issues may deter many businesses from starting up locally.

“Exchange control really drives people away from South Africa from a business perspective,” he said. “It makes it really difficult to do business with companies outside of South Africa.”

“Artificial constraints like the SARB limiting how much money you can put on a credit card in a single swipe is ludicrous. As a business, we don’t deal with people, we deal with web pages and swipe credit cards.”

Despite these issues, Spagni maintained that the unique circumstances in South Africa were a good breeding ground for motivated entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by the inception of international companies such as Tari Labs.

Now read: South Africa’s manufacturing industry is lagging behind the tech curve

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The great thing about South Africa being broken