The Foundation recently attended the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012 Report. It is the largest annual entrepreneurship study in the world covering countries representing approximately 85% of the world’s economy. This report showed that the proportion of South African adults involved in early stage entrepreneurial activity dropped from 9.1% in 2011 to 7.3% in 2012. This was the lowest of all 10 Sub-Saharan Africa countries participating in the study and is probably half the level our country requires.
The report further explored the pool of potential entrepreneurs, which is drawn from those individuals who have a combination of both the perception of good opportunities and the perception of having entrepreneurial capabilities. In South Africa this proportion of potential entrepreneurs in the total youth population between the ages of 18 – 34 is 20%, a full two-thirds less than the Sub-Saharan average of 60%. When one considers the importance of entrepreneurship in driving job creation, these statistics start to explain why our country has such unacceptably high levels of unemployment. If we are able to shift our youth’s perception of both their capability and the level of opportunity around them it would quickly improve the depth of our country’s overall entrepreneurial pipeline. Perception of capability and opportunity thus offer two important levers with which to influence the entrepreneurial culture of the country at source.
Addressing these issues is a complex task which requires numerous interventions to help tackle this entrepreneurial deficit. At the Foundation, we have come to respect the importance of two ingredients that we see as having an important influence on both levers, namely grit and community.
Grit is defined, according to Wikipedia, as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”. In the Foundation’s context we call it “Courageous Commitment”, which is one of the five pillars against which we select future Allan Gray Candidate-Fellows and which is then further developed as part of the Fellowship journey. An increasing number of studies point towards this notion of grit as a far better predictor of future success than other dimensions such as IQ. This resilience and unwavering determination is key in unlocking a different level of perception of one’s capabilities, as well as growing the universe of potential opportunities that one feels able to pursue.
The second ingredient is a powerful community, imbued with a “Spirit of Significance” (a second pillar of the Foundation) which has a catalysing impact on the boundaries of possibility for those within the community. Such communities in their own right and through their natural fostering of grit, start to move the levers of capability and opportunity.
In this edition of our E-Zine, we get an update from Suzie Nkambule on the Association of Allan Gray Fellows and some interesting insights on our Fellowship Campaign for 2013. We also gain an understanding of how we assist Candidate-Fellows to build community amongst themselves, whilst in the service of another community with the Year Equip Candidate-Fellow Connect Event in Villiersdorp. We take an inside look at our Grade 8 Scholarship Development Camp as well as the results of our most recent Scholarship Campaign with the next one due to kick-off on 15 July 2013 ( for learners currently in Grade 6 to apply for a high school scholarship commencing in 2015).
In light of last month being Youth Month and the continued celebration of Youth, I challenge all our Allan Gray Fellows, Candidate-Fellows, Scholars and all Youth out there to be a part of increasing South Africa’s entrepreneurial future by unlocking their individual perceptions of their own capabilities and expanding their universe of potential opportunities and then to pursue them wholeheartedly!
Yours in the spirit of Youth