David Vs Goliath. Start-ups take on Telkom, Vodacom and MTN

​​​​​Additional Forum Information

Registration: 17h45 - 18h00

Forum Start Time: 18h00​​​​​​​​

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cocktails will be served after the event


The South African telecommunications industry is being transformed through the emergence of smaller and nimbler disruptors. Join Niel Schoeman, CEO of Vumatel, for a discussion on how Vumatel sparked a telco revolution by bringing fibre to homes in South Africa. Hear how Vumatel uses its size and agility to its advantage to take on the incumbents and why these small and brave initiatives by entrepreneurs will solve the big questions in South Africa and Africa.​


Niel Schoeman is a serial entrepreneur, investor and disrupter. He is founder and CEO of Vumatel the new telecoms start-up that brings fibre to homes in South Africa. Niel is also co-founder and Chairman of The Birchman Group, an international technology consulting firm based in London, co-founder of Conduct Telecoms which was recently sold to Dark Fibre Africa and various other interests in technology related ventures. He hold an Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Stellenbosch.

Schoeman is still only 44 and a serial entrepreneur who has been crowned 2015's winner of the IITPSA President's IT Personality of the Year award.

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  • Professor Helena Barnard

    Helena Barnard is a full professor at GIBS and responsible for the GIBS doctoral programme. She was on the organising committee for the Academy of Management Africa conference at GIBS in 2013, and is the Academy of International Business (AIB) Vice President for Administration for 2017 to 2020. She is a 2018-2019 Dunning Fellow at the John H Dunning Centre for International Business at Henley Business School.

    She is an area editor for the newly launched Journal of International Business Policy, the sister journal of the well-regarded Journal of International Business Studies, and the deputy editor in charge of Africa for the journal Management and Organizational Review. She is on the editorial review board of Global Strategy Journal, IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management and Academy of Management Perspectives.

    Before she started her academic career, she worked at Home Depot in the USA from 1999 to 2004, first in Instructional Design and then in Logistics. Her first career was in the field of Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET).


    Helena has been an invited speaker on emerging market multinationals at inter alia Aalborg University in Denmark (February 2006), Northeastern University in Boston (August 2012), the COST Action Group at the European International Business Academy in Sussex, UK (December 2012) and at NYU at a conference organised by Phankaj Ghemawat (September 2016).


    From 2008 to 2010 she, together with the University of Lund (Sweden) conducted a cross-national project on innovation in the automotive and ICT industries in South Africa, India and China. Helena served on the executive and scientific committee of an EU-funded FP7 project on global innovation networks (2009 – 2011). She also developed the proposal leading to Academy of Management, the leading professional organisation for management scholars, conducting its first-ever conference outside of North America at GIBS in Johannesburg in January 2013.


    She is involved with ongoing projects with the University of Strasbourg (France) and Maastricht University (Netherlands) on global academic collaborations and with the Oxford Internet Institute on how online markets are changing business across borders. She is a fellow at the CEIBS Center for Emerging Market Studies and the DIODE network (Development Impacts Of Digital Economies) at Manchester University. She has been rated as an internationally recognised scholar by the South African National Research Foundation.

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