More than ever, the world is looking for innovative entrepreneurs. Each country has adopted a different approach, so let’s take a closer look at some of the programmes that I believe are good options for South African entrepreneurs and investors. 


Canadian start-up visa is a direct route to securing permanent residency in Canada while offering entrepreneurs hands-on support through a formal incubation programme. 

If you have an innovative idea for your start-up venture, willing to complete the Global Startup Accelerator programme, and a 24- month formal incubation programme, then it may be the right option for you.

The cost of the Global Startup Accelerator programme, participation in the 24-month incubation programme and legal fees is CAD 230,000 

United Kingdom 

The UK has always been a destination of choice for South Africans. For entrepreneurs, depending on the maturity of business or business idea, there are now three visa options available. 

Sole Representative Visa. 

This is a great option for entrepreneurs that already have a well-established business in South Africa and wish to expand their business to the UK. The business in South Africa must continue to operate and only one representative from the business in South Africa would be able to relocate to the UK to establish the business. 

Innovator Visa

The innovator visa is aimed at experienced entrepreneurs that have a proven track record in the IT space and have the funds to launch their innovative business in the UK. The required investment is GBP 200,000*. Your business idea will need to be approved by the relevant professional body in the UK, before the submission of your visa application.


The E2 Treaty Investor Visa allows investors to invest in a new or existing business in the USA.

The recommended investment is between USD 150,000 – USD 200,000. Investors and their family would be allowed to remain in the USA for as long as that business continues to operate. One of the great benefits of the E2 visa is that it offers the investor greater flexibility in terms of how much time they need to spend in the US.

BUT, and it’s a big BUT, as South Africans, we are not eligible to apply based on our South African passports. We first need to secure citizenship in Grenada that had a treaty agreement with the US. I know it sounds awfully difficult, but it is a lot easier than it sounds and the benefits of having alternative citizenship speak for themselves. The required investment for the Grenadian Citizenship by Investment Programme is USD220,000*


The Highly Qualified Activity Visa is a fantastic alternative option, to the Golden Visa as it offers the same residency benefits in Portugal, with great flexibility and without having a large chunk of capital tied up in a property. 

Unlike the UK, USA and Canada entrepreneur programmes, the Highly Qualified Activity visa for Portugal is suitable for active entrepreneurs and passive investors, as you can choose your level of involvement in the business. The entrepreneur or investor is not required to relocate to Portugal, it’s a good Plan B option. 

Like Canada, entrepreneurs or investors are required to participate in a formal incubation programme. In Portugal, the incubation programme is run in partnership with the Research and Development facilities at the various universities around Portugal, and a very experienced incubation team, to give your business idea, the best chance of success. At the end of the 3-year incubation programme, it will be up to you whether you wish to leave it within the incubation framework or establish operations. Either way, you will be able to retain your residency in Portugal. 

The cost of the 3-year incubation programme is EUR 175,000 

 Please get in touch with Natalie William-Ashman for more information about these entrepreneur-based emigration options 

021 001 2109


Comments are closed.