Cape Town - The failure rate of start-ups in South Africa is too high and mentorship could be what is needed, according to Adrian Gore, founder and CEO of the Discovery Group.
In his view, "old retired white guys" could give back by helping start-ups and add value through mentorship.
"Perhaps the focus in SA should be on creating opportunities and then the natural entrepreneurs will respond," Gore said at a business breakfast hosted by Deloitte and Accelerate Cape Town on Thursday.
"It is about tech support, training and working with communities to identify challenges and then addressing the problems and needs in the communities in an entrepreneurial way," he said.
Following discussions with Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan post Nenegate in January 2016, the CEOs Initiative SME work stream, led by Gore and Bidvest founder Brian Joffe, brought together experts in the public, private and NGO sectors to explore solutions for stimulating entrepreneurial activity. One of the outcomes was the set-up of an SME Fund.
"Yes, SA needs jobs or we run the risk of disaster with an army of 5 million unemployed people. If you have no job, you have no hope and no self-esteem," said Gore.
"But who creates jobs? Big business and government can't create jobs. Government has budget constraints and big business grows through efficiencies. Only entrepreneurs and SMEs create jobs. That is why the SME Fund wants to stimulate this sector by creating a proper environment."
READ: Innovating with the right mentorship is key
The aim is to create a network for entrepreneurs. R1.5bn has already been raised for the project.
"Where will it lead to? I do not know. As we go along we will learn and listen, but it captures the intent and goodwill of business," said Gore.
"Successful companies make a country more efficient. You don’t have to export to create jobs. The supply chain of a company can, for instance, be used to help start-ups."
The aim is for a successful SME Fund to create a knock-on effect.
"I hope the structures we are creating will make a more viable business sector. Small businesses become medium-sized businesses if they are successful and then they create jobs. We should try to coordinate all our lofty goals," said Gore.
"We need to celebrate successful entrepreneurs and maybe also do entrepreneurial training in schools."Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: