For the very first time on African soil, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress arrived with a key message, “entrepreneurship, innovation and disruption will continue to drive economic growth and development”. The theme Digital Disruption facilitated rich debate on how technology can serve as a catalyst for economic growth while it showcased disruption in action with examples from Adrian Gore on how Discovery disrupted the medical aid industry and continues to do so in the financial services sector. Disruptions also translate very neatly into the entrepreneurial process, where entrepreneurs continue to forge new ways to exploit market opportunities and create value and Africa presents a multitude of opportunities.
At the GEC, the Foundation led the panel on Entrepreneurial Mindset and publicly shared our progress since the GEC+ in Daegu in 2016. The panel allowed us to clearly state the purpose of the project, its overall mission and it was rewarding to see how many people are interested in contributing to the research. The purpose of this GERN research project is to develop a shared understanding of entrepreneurial mindset and a universal methodology to measure it across all 160 member countries.
As an introduction we presented a chronological literature review, the academic framework and the seminal roots that flow from behavioural, cognitive and social psychology. The process and methodology for the design of the entrepreneurial mindset survey instrument was also covered before the panel shared some of the practical challenges of the project.
Audience participation presented very exciting questions about entrepreneurial mindset and it was evident that people are interested in both the academic and practical implications of entrepreneurial mindset. What stood out for me was a question from an entrepreneur in the audience about recruiting and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. It was a welcome reminder about the practical value of this research and the context for application. At the same time, it was encouraging to hear another voice in support of what is core to the Foundation’s selection methodology.
The GEC+ Cape Town offered a more intimate opportunity for GERN members to understand the project in its current form. We also encouraged contributions from the GERN community and shared how GERN Countries can participate in the future. The highlight of the GEC+ Cape Town that must be celebrated is the fact that Victor Hwang, Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, agrees on the importance of entrepreneurial mindset as a research agenda item and this will certainly open more doors for global collaboration to deliver on our end goal.
The GEC+ also drew inspiration from design thinking to craft solutions that will serve as enablers in the global entrepreneurship ecosystem. Design thinking was used to “crowd source” current challenges and solutions from a group of highly qualified ecosystem practitioners to ensure a holistic understanding of how specific conditions affect ecosystem development.
The final day of the GEC+ Cape Town at Philippi Village offered GERN members an immersive experience of the local ecosystem and we were able to explore how to ensure equitable growth and development. It was encouraging to see and experience the application of GERN research with the presentation of practical solutions for the local community to access entrepreneurship capacity development opportunities in the local ecosystem. It was a great manifestation of our theme, Entrepreneurial Mindset in Action!