- "I could choose to be either an entrepreneur, or work in a corporate
environment, but knowing that I have the opportunity to leave a legacy of
companies that people love to work for is probably the most exciting thing
about being an entrepreneur."
view of up-and-coming technology entrepreneur, Tyler Reed, who spoke to
Reed is a rare animal.
According to international research from the Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), he is part of just 6% of the South African
population that views entrepreneurship as a potential career path.
This is the
paradox that faces the country as a whole: South Africans have ingrained the
principal that work in the corporate sector is safer than attempting an
entrepreneurial venture, and yet the corporate sector is failing the
That's because unemployment continues to rise sharply toward 30%.
Simply put, corporates are not creating jobs.
owners admit there are some new opportunities for entrepreneurs as the historic
dominance in certain industries weakens, partly owing to the Competition
Commission which has worked to break down cartel-type behaviour and allowed new
entrants in to the market.
sectors, however, such as banking and financial services, have retained their
high barriers to entry.
For most, this sector of the economy is firmed
signposted "restricted entry" for all except those with the deepest
are other barriers to entry. Education remains a major hurdle for South Africa
in both the formal and entrepreneur sectors.
accident that the country's best entrepreneurs success stories such as Mark
Shuttleworth, Adrian Gore of Discovery, or international rocket science guru
Elon Musk, are highly skilled and educated individuals.
Klopper, spokesperson for the Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) believes that much
focus still needs to be made on entrepreneur education within South Africa.
Klopper: "Entrepreneurial ability without managerial ability would not be
sustainable. Management and entrepreneurial skill and experience are the most
frequently used selection criteria of venture capitalists. Entrepreneurs who
have invested in education are more likely to have a growth strategy and run
getting some traction
which is getting quite a lot of attention in recent months is that of
information technology (IT).
2009, IT entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, Vinny Lingham and Justin
Stanford, announced the launch of their "Silicon Cape" initiative
which was positioning itself to raise the profile of technology entrepreneurs
in the Western Cape.
included co-ordinating the efforts of government, innovators and technology
investors to develop the sector.
The entrepreneur Reed believes that the
environment in South Africa is now far more friendly for entrepreneurs.
think broadband is becoming less of an issue, more and more people are becoming
connected and more entrepreneurs are realising the opportunity in web and
think funding is still a grey area, the money is there but it's not easy to get
and I don't think we are quite there yet, in terms of getting the same kind of
deals our overseas competitors land," he said.
analyst, Will Mworia, from AfriInnovator believes that it is not just in South
Africa's tech sector that entrepreneurship is thriving.
to successes in places like Nigeria and Kenya where IT is thriving and this
will stimulate further entrepreneurship between African entrepreneurs. Yet it
will take time.
a startup founder in Silicon Valley is ordinary, but creating a culture [in
Africa] takes time," he said.
attributes this "subtle" change in levels of interest in
entrepreneurial activities to increased awareness in the media as well as
government policies in places like Kenya where government is taking an active
role in stimulating the sector through specialist entrepreneur funds.