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Education key to successful entrepreneurship

Jun 23 2017 14:25

Cape Town - Business is simple, but not easy and once someone understands the fundamental building blocks of business, the person is closer to being able to distinguish between a poor, mediocre or great business opportunity or venture, according to Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam’s Business Market.

In his view, the lack of formal education for entrepreneurship is evident in the failure rate of SMEs and in the extent to which South Africans often abandon their entrepreneurial dreams.  

One reason why the fall-out rate of new entrants in the SME market is staggeringly high is because SA's education system ill-equips learners for the labour market - either as employees or as potential business owners.

In his view, school level intervention to incubate entrepreneurs for the future is needed. The subjects speaking to business sciences need to be re-evaluated to include elements like business finance, business management, business case development and business innovation (methodologies and tools), as well as marketing and a practical application element which can be brought in through field studies and learnerships.

Financial literacy should also be incorporated in the curriculum, as future business owners should understand critical concepts like the time value of money.

These focus areas can also be applied to higher education courses in business sciences and management.
 
Broad based economic participation can only materialise if new sustainable jobs are created in the SME sector, according to Rossouw.

He emphasises that significant job creation by the SME sector will require serious education intervention to equip young people and would-be entrepreneurs with the necessarily knowledge and skills.

"It is imperative that SA starts to spend significant time and resources to address the need for access to quality education aimed at those who want to pursue entrepreneurship and business ownership. We shouldn’t only start teaching these skills at the tertiary level,” says Rossouw.

READ: Mentorship needed for entrepreneurial success in SA - CEO

Mentorship   

He further argues that a greater emphasis on coaching or mentorship is also required and that this is an under-valued area in support of entrepreneurial success.

“In South Africa we have a wealth of business experience at our disposal from. For instance, there are retired people, who still can and want to make a contribution and a difference. Many of these individuals are not necessarily in direct need of an immediate income," says Rossouw.

"They can be remunerated as the business grows and as it becomes more sustainable and successful. More can and should be done to mobilise these individuals and formally link them up to start-up businesses which show promise.”

He says funding a business without mentorship often means setting that business up for failure. Therefore, one cannot underestimate the value and the benefits of government funding of mentorship programmes in conjunction with the financing of businesses.

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