“Many entrepreneurs are good at going it alone, but the growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises often rely on the guidance and support of external practitioners or advisers with specific expertise, knowledge, and skills that entrepreneurs may not have. These people make a difference, and research has shown they improve the longer-term viability of new ventures, helping them get past those critical first five years” - Keystones in Entrepreneurship Knowledge, 2005

About the Conference

The International Conference on Business Advising (ICBA), the first conference of its kind, casting the spotlight on what is considered one of the most important business support tools – business advising.  Business advising plays a critical role in enhancing the survival, performance and success of all businesses, in particular start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A pioneering pilot initiative launched in South Africa in 2012, sponsored by USAID and JP Morgan, focused on measuring the impact of effective business development support on enabling small businesses to survive, grow, and become investment-ready has shown that participating SMEs showed more than 40% growth in revenue in their first year and significant improvements in business systems and investment readiness. According to the initiative, which is now being rolled out, the results of the pilot provided evidence that:

  • High-quality business development support, including business advising, can help businesses to grow faster and create more jobs
  • It is possible to assess the quality of business development support a business has received by measuring specific changes in the business

The ICBA will take a 360-degree view of business advising, looking at the profession itself, business advising practices, and performance. It will examine the following central questions, among others:

  • What factors determine the success of business advising as a business support tool?
  • What are the experiences and lessons from South Africa and around the world in delivering impactful business advice?
  • How can the impact of business advising be measured and improved?
  • What are future directions in business advising?

Who should attend?

The conference is open to all actors in the business advice field from around the world, including:

  • Accountants and financial experts
  • Legal practitioners
  • Commercial banks, development finance institutions and other financiers
  • Government SME support agencies
  • Business schools and business academics and researchers
  • Consultants, mentors, and business coaches
  • Business turnaround practitioners
  • Trade and professional associations, and Chambers of Commerce
  • International development organisations
  • Corporate small business development programmes

Conference programme

Under the theme, Business Advising: Profession, Practice and Performance, the conference will cover all components of business advising – mentoring, coaching, consulting, counselling, and business turnaround. The programme will comprise plenaries and continuous professional development (CPD) sessions, covering the following topics:

  • Minimum qualifications for business advising
  • Accreditation / certification of business advisers
  • Continuing professional development
  • Professional codes / ethics / regulation
  • The legal and policy environment for business advising
  • Business advising programme design approaches
  • Adviser-client relationship
  • Methodologies, tools and techniques
  • Delivery innovations (incl. role of ICT)
  • Quality assurance
  • Complaints handling
  • Determining success – how do we know it works?
  • Continuous learning and improvement
  • Measurement methodologies (qualitative vs quantitative)
  • Determining measurement roles and frequencies
  • Disseminating and using results to improve design and practice

Call for speakers

Click here to apply

“Business advice consistently produces better outcomes on productivity and output…” - A New Design: Making Local Support Work for Business, 2015

Conference dates

Date: 22 - 24 November 2017
Place: Johannesburg, South Africa

Conference partners

Osiba Management Logo

The International Conference on Business Advising is a collaboration involving key players in the field of business advising and small business promotion in South Africa. Osiba Management is a leading research company with more than 20 years of experience in small business promotion policy and programmes in South Africa, with a wide range of clients in the public and private sector. Osiba Management has previously organised the 37th International Small Business Congress (ISBC), which brought together 744 delegates and more than 50 speakers from 38 countries in 2012; the World Association for Small & Medium Enterprises’ (WASME) 19th International Conference for SMEs (ICSME), attended by 621 delegates from 21 countries in 2013. In 2015 Osiba Management organised the 11th International Forum of the International Network for SMEs (INSME), attended by 300 delegates.

ibasa logo

The Institute of Business Advisors Southern Africa (IBASA) is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as the professional body responsible for the grading, accreditation and continuous professional development of business advisors, business coaches, consultants and mentors serving the micro, small and medium enterprises SMMEs in South and Southern Africa. The IBASA has a membership in excess of 600 members across South Africa, accredited as Business Advisors, Business Coaches and Mentors. Members are graded in accordance with their level of skill and experience and qualify to use designations ranging from Business Advisor (BA), Principal Business Advisor (PBA) and Certified Business Advisor (CBA), being the most skilled and experienced. www.ibasa.org.za


The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) is a professional accountancy organisation, boasting a membership of more than 10,000 members. It is one of the professional accountancy organisations in South Africa that set mandatory requirements for its members with regard to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). SAIPA is a full member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and has beneficial reciprocal agreements with national and international bodies including the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA); The Institute of Certified Public accountants in Ireland (CPA Ireland); the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) in Australia; and the Institute of Commercial and Financial Accountants (CFA) in Namibia. www.saipa.co.za

“The use of external advice has been strongly linked to successful business growth…” - Keystones in Entrepreneurship Knowledge, 2005