Entrepreneurial mindset and education

Entrepreneurial mindset and education

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-51-26-am2016 Circle of Excellence conference

The Foundation recently hosted its annual Circle of Excellence (COE) conference. The COE principal’s conference is a school leader’s platform to recognise a diverse group of schools that share a commitment to develop future entrepreneurial leaders. The COE is an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation initiative that was launched in 2008 to partner with secondary schools that are consistent in their delivery of candidates to the Allan Gray Fellowship. The COE conference enhances the significance of entrepreneurial leadership and the application of entrepreneurial mindsets in schools.

This year the conference aimed to achieve the following; 1) acknowledge and celebrate the schools that have produced Fellows, 2) advocate for entrepreneurial mindset education in schools, 3) share best practices in maintaining COE schools as centres of excellence and 4) create a platform to share knowledge and experience to incorporate entrepreneurial mindset development in schools.

Acknowledge and celebrate the schools that have produced Fellows

In the Courageous Commitment Award category – a school that has provided the highest number of Fellowship awards since COE inception (2009) – Settles High School were awarded 1st place. Hudson Park High School came in 2nd, Collegiate Girls High School in 3rd, St.John’s College in 4th and Bracken High School in 5th. In the Achievement Excellence Award category – the school that has provided the highest number of Allan Gray Fellows – Settlers High School again scooped up 1st place with Hudson Park High School in 2nd. In 3rd we had a tie – Collegiate Girls High School and St. John’s College. In 4th again a tie – Bracken High School, Pretoria School for Girls, St. Mary’s School, Waverley, Pinetown Girls High School, Durban Girls High School and Rondebosch Boys High School. And lastly, 5th place also had a tie – Clapham High School, Umtata High School, Benoni High School, Durban High School and Hoerskool Louis Trichardt.

Create a platform to share knowledge and experience to incorporate entrepreneurial mindset development in schools.

The conference again had an array of thought leaders speaking on a variety of topics related to education. The conference opened with an inspirational rags to riches personal story by Frank Magwegwe. In 1993, through selling fruit & vegetables in downtown Johannes- burg, Frank beat the odds and escaped homelessness. Over the last 23 years, Frank has travelled a fascinating journey “from the streets to finding purpose and passion.”

The rest of the speakers included Alison Bengston, the Chief Director of Districts Operations Management in the Gauteng Department of Education, George Harris and David du Toit from Lebone II in Phokeng, Dr Nic Spaull, a well-known education researcher in South Africa, Prof. Pedro Tabensky, the director of the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics (AGCLE) and Trevor Manuel who served in the government of South Africa as Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2009 and as Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission from 2009 to 2014. [Speaker presentations and audio will be available soon on our website]

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-54-17-amThis year the Foundation also partnered with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI), a global thought leader dedicated to expanding human potential through entrepreneurial mindset education. “The power of entrepreneurial thinking reaches far beyond traditional enterprise creation,” Schoeniger said. “Entrepreneurship education exposes opportunity, ignites ambition and fosters the development of creativity and critical thinking, communication and teamwork, effective problem solving and other essential 21st Century skills.” Schoeniger’s keynote focused on redefining entrepreneurship; how it is more than an academic discipline, reaching far beyond the concept of traditional business creation and small business management. Entrepreneurship is a mindset; a framework for thinking and acting that can empower anyone to succeed. Bree Langemo and Gary Schoeniger also spoke on the following:

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Classroom & the Workplace – The development of entrepreneurial attitudes and skills requires mental models that encourage people to take ownership of their ideas as well as their ability to learn.
  • Leading with an Entrepreneurial Mindset – An entrepreneurial mindset cultivates curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, complex problem solving and collaboration – skills that drive entrepreneurial and organisational success.
  • An Entrepreneurial Mindset for Student Success – how an entrepreneurial mindset has impacted student persistence. Langemo claims that their data suggest that students with an entrepreneurial mindset out perform their peers.

The conference again allowed principal’s to grapple with what it means to develop and equip learners with 21st century skills. The Foundation maintains that entrepreneurial mindset is core to this skillset. The challenge remains – how do we equip our children for jobs that have not even been created yet. This is what Ken Robinson, educational thought leader has to say about it:




Taking back our Power to inspire the Girl Child by Lethabo Tloubatla

Taking back our Power to inspire the Girl Child by Lethabo Tloubatla

60 years on, women still not seen as equals… Or are they?

2016 marks 60 years since the most celebrated women’s March to the Union Buildings, and in 60 years, women have the right to vote, and venture into places and spaces once deemed taboo. Although there have been many instances where women were treated in an unequal manner, there has been, over history, situations where women have taken their power back.

1905 – Charlotte Maxeke becomes the first black woman to earn a Bachelors Degree in South Africa

1956 – Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa & Sophia Williams led a march to the Union Buildings to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act also known as “pass laws”

1962 – despite being under house arrest along with many women in the country, Lillian Ngoyi earns her LLB degree and is admitted to the Supreme Court of South Africa as an Advocate

1994 – Frene Gingwala is elected the first Speaker of Parliament in the democratic South Africa. In the same year, women held one-third of the seats in the provincial assemblies

The above are instances where women saw opportunities to change the status quo and disrupt the norm. Post-1994, there has been an increase in the number of women in top positions, as well as more women-led businesses that are making a significant impact on the economy of the country. These are not only a result of the many opportunities that have been made available to women, but also due to the bravery and confidence that these women have displayed and continue to do every day.

The recent events following the National Municipal elections in South Africa have sparked a very contentious but necessary conversation. A conversation about rape, how 1 in 3 women in South Africa is raped every day, a conversation that calls for accountability from the highest position in the land. One could ask why it’s so important for us all to “remember Khwezi”, why we need to keep disrupting the status quo? Well here’s my take.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.25.26 AM

Khwezi is a name that was heard all over our radios and televisions 10 years ago. Back then, inequality was still a subject that was taboo in most households. Though women in South Africa had the same rights as everyone else, the system still disadvantaged them.

Though these disruptions mainly put a spotlight on political accountability and rape, I saw something different. I saw a generation of young women taking a stand and pushing the equality agenda. Those young ladies indirectly urged the whole country to see women as equals, in households, communities and most importantly in business.

This women’s day, I urge all women across the country to make use of all the opportunities that have been made available, in the same spirit of the strong women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956. Do something to change the future and continue to push boundaries; for yourself; but most importantly, so that the girl child will one day be inspired and brave enough to do the same when her time comes.

Why don’t smart poor kids go to Harvard? | By: Leila Davids

Why don’t smart poor kids go to Harvard? | By: Leila Davids

Malcolm-Gladwell-smMalcolm Gladwell has been described by the Guardian as the King of Non Fiction. In his new podcast, “Revisionist History” Gladwell translates his gripping narrative style from the written word to audio. He shares new insights into stories from the past that have been forgotten or issues that have been misunderstood.

In his most recent podcast, “Carlos doesn’t remember” Gladwell explores why smart poor kids don’t go to universities like Harvard despite financial structures to do so.

Gladwell argues that capitalisation, the metric that assesses the percentage of people in a given group who are able to meet their potential as one of the most powerful metrics by which to measure a country’s progress. Better even than GDP as a descriptor of growth.

But, he asks, is America any good at capitalisation? If you’re born poor can you really move up, if you work hard can you really improve your life?

We follow Carlos (not his real name) – a talented, smart kid from a poor family living in a bad Los Angeles neighbourhood who is given the opportunity through the Eric Eisner’s Yes Programme to attend an elite private school in the leafy suburbs of Brentwood.

We learn just how hard it is for Carlos to overcome troubling family circumstances, cope with the economic realities of poverty and the consequences of violence. We see that the difference between being privileged and being poor incudes the number of chances you get, that talent is fragile and that potential needs deep and abiding support to transform into success.

Each year America leaves a huge amount of talent on the table. In a seminal paper, Hoxby and Avery dispute the assertion that smart disadvantaged kids in the US are rare – they estimate that about 35,000 students from low income households score in the 90th percentile or above on their college test scores per year, yet very few even apply to selective colleges. This is despite the fact that with certain financing structures even an elite university like Harvard is cheaper than a state college.

The parallels with South Africa and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation are all too clear. Like Eisner’s Yes programme we know that you can pretty predictably find smart, talented children at disadvantaged schools, we believe that selecting high potential learners at a relatively young age makes a difference, and we recognise that placing talented learners in quality education gives them a greater chance at success.

Like Gladwell, we utilise the concept of capitalisation aiming to provide and unlock opportunities for our Scholars and Candidate Fellows to meet their potential, to make the most of their ability. This we believe, will in turn, increase the likelihood of more smart, poor kids going to Harvard. Even if they come from as far away as South Africa.

By: Leila Davids


Start-ups, key to Economic Growth

Start-ups, key to Economic Growth

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 7.51.12 AMPhumlani Nkontwana, an Entrepreneurial Leadership Programme Officer at the Foundation and Programme Manager of Enterprise Development Academy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), shares his views on the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises, also known as startups, in boosting the South African economy. The Foundation believes that strong support is required for startups, equipping young entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and networks to start growing businesses that will have a high impact on the economy in future. The ultimate goal is to create jobs that will reduce poverty and inequality; one that is realised in the Foundation through its Association of Allan Gray Fellows.

Tackling barriers to entry will grow South Africa’s economy and could boost startup entrepreneurial activity

In South Africa small businesses are often treated or viewed as a sideshow – or, worse, as a charity. A closer look at how things work exposes flaws in this viewpoint. In reality innovation and job creation are driven by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The South African government is trying to push for creating 800,000 jobs per year between now and 2030, a total of 11 million jobs, because of their belief that it will stimulate and develop the economy. SMEs can impact the economy if given a chance, i.e. if supply chain barriers can be removed. The National Development Plan (NDP) envisages that this sector should account for 90% of new jobs.

It is time for a mindset shift in South Africa, especially in corporations that might be reluctant to procure goods and services from startups and other small entities. Many large organisations procure from old peers without opening the door for small businesses.

Truth be told, amid pockets of excellence in the entrepreneurial world, not all SMEs are faultless. Some fail to collaborate as consortia, even when critical mass means either landing or losing new contracts. There are also those who execute unprofessionally. However, this can be corrected by coaching and mentoring.

Excluding SMEs from supply chains instead of empowering them with skills or reducing entry barriers benefits no one; it limits economic growth. How will SMEs be able to prove themselves and present track records unless given the chance to gain experience?

Blue chip companies such as ArcelorMittal, Growthpoint Properties and Woolworths have been commended for building their own timbre by going the extra mile to shore up SMEs. J.P. Morgan is another example of a company stepping in to support SMEs through its fund, the Small Business Boost Programme at GIBS’s Enterprise Development Academy. This new project will offer extensive training, support and mentorship to two cohorts of 50 entrepreneurs. The list of companies that deserve praise for uplifting startups or procuring from small businesses are not short, but there is huge room for improvement.

Statistically, developed nations view the SME sector as a launch pad, which explains the healthy ties between corporations and small businesses, with governments playing supportive roles while universities churn out the relevant skills. A company such as Microsoft comes to mind: it was built by students and grew because of the entrepreneurial and innovative minds behind it combined with the context that nurtured that development.

During 2011, in the 27 European Union countries, as much as 58% of gross value came from SMEs. In OECD countries SMEs accounted for an estimated 99% of enterprises and two-thirds of employment in 2010. These numbers highlight the fact that corporations don’t create jobs to the extent that might be believed. The 2016 OECD report states that “innovative SMEs fuel employment and economic growth and nearly all net job creation in the US between 1997 and 2005 came from firms less than five years old.”

Back home small businesses can support the success of their larger peers. Small Business Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, once observed that “the diversification of supply chains assists big businesses to have a wider choice of suppliers from Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) and promotes innovation within the value chain. The growth and sustainability of big business therefore depends on a strong small business sector, both as consumers and suppliers.”

The benefits of cracking open supply chain management to include the SME sector are apparent. For South Africa to grow, research and development (R&D) should be made a top priority, because it catapults economies. The South African government, which funds projects, academia and the private sector invest a smidgeon – below 1% of its GDP – on R&D, while the Netherlands – whose economy is much bigger than ours – spends twice as much in percentage terms. The average expenditure on R&D in OECD states is 2.5%.

If we are serious about being innovative and unlocking opportunities while improving our competitiveness, we should bolster our R&D budget. We have just averted a credit downgrade, yet our economy, against the backdrop of runaway unemployment, has all the right ingredients for pronounced growth.

Coupled with that, new industries have to be nurtured to complement the entrenched ones such as mining and manufacturing. The question is, where will the magic come from? To quote the NDP: “ the green economy is poised as one of the areas that will support growth.” So let’s start there!

Aggressive investment in transport will bring magic in three ways: it will create jobs, lower input costs and cut travel times, both social and economic benefits. The tourism and telecommunications industries can grow further and so too the medical industry. Traditional medicine, especially, remains untapped in commercial terms and stands out for its potential to help stimulate the economy.

Captains of industry and lenders are well-placed to invest in R&D, to improve our competitiveness and to help entrepreneurs chase these dreams. It is through a strong SME sector that South Africa can achieve some if not all of the NDP imperatives and reach its true potential.


School Entrepreneurship in Action | by Alexander McLeod

School Entrepreneurship in Action | by Alexander McLeod

alexander mcleodIt’s been a month since the South African school calendar started and we’re keen to see how kidpreneurs will be developed and supported during this academic year.

Alexander McLeod is the CEO of Cape Town-based Calan Consulting, a company that has extensive experience with designing and implementing school entrepreneurship initiatives. Under its brand Kreeate, (pronounced “create”), its extra-curricular School Entrepreneurship Programme for high school learners is endorsed by the National Department of Basic Education and is now in its 6th year.


School learners of today are the leaders and change makers of tomorrow. Entrepreneurship advocacy at school level is key to contributing to and in turn achieving a country’s socio-economic development goals. So why is so little being done to harness the untold potential that exists within this segment of our population?

In an interview at the 2016 World Economic Forum, Grameen Bank Founder and Nobel Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus alluded to the fact that education systems, globally, foster the mindset of “I need to find a job” by posing the question “Why does the education system brainwash people into believing they have to ask for jobs rather than create them?”.

Sir Ken Robinson, in his 2006 TED Talk, said that the education system “kills creativity”. I could not agree more.

We have been developing and implementing high school entrepreneurship initiatives for the last five years and can confirm both of these views. Learners are “encouraged” to think and behave like their peers. If they step out of line, there are consequences. South Africa’s education system, for the most part, churns out followers who all think the same and have no inclination to create their own future.

Entrepreneurship is one of the three pillars of the Economic and Management Science (EMS) Subject for Grades 7 to 9. This may sound encouraging, but unfortunately it is not. Why? Because educators must ensure that they get through the EMS curriculum for the year. Entrepreneurship section of EMS done, tick the box and move onto the next section please learners.

box ticking exercise

It is all about content with mininal practical application and understanding. Yet practical application is what entrepreneurship advocacy and development should be focusing on at school level.

Entrepreneurship is about sacrifices and any entrepreneurship initiative aimed at school learners should be extra-curricular as it encourages learners to make a sacrifice of their time. It should also not be once off, but should run over school terms or the entire year. Once-off initiatives are not enough because if, for example, learners’ cake sales goes well they that think being an entrepreneur is easy and if it doesn’t go well they never want to try that again because of a fear of failure.

However, learners need to understand that they will not always get it right the first time and that it takes time to succeed. Overnight successes are very rare and learners must be made aware of this. If a learner does succeed, then they must reap the rewards. We encountered a school that proudly informed us that it had launched its own internal entrepreneurship activity. The school lent the learner a small sum of money which the learner had to repay, interest free. Unfortunately, in addition to the capital repayment, the school took all of the learner’s profits too!

Entrepreneurs want to make a profit. Schools must allow learners to keep their profits and use that money to initiate additional business activities. This is the Kreeate model – learners keep their profits and receive both cash and non-cash awards for being top performers. Incentives breed excitement and excitement is what keeps learners interested and competitive.

The Kreeate philosophy is that entrepreneurship initiatives targeting school learners must meet the following criteria:

  1. Be extra-curricular
  2. Run over an extended period of time (not be once-off)
  3. Be practical orientated (interactive, action-learning)
  4. Allow learners to keep their profits


Exploring alternatives to economic growth at St. Gallen | By Daniel Dippold

Exploring alternatives to economic growth at St. Gallen | By Daniel Dippold

kagame st gallenThe St. Gallen Symposium is a global, Switzerland based, intergenerational dialogue platform, which, over the past 46 years, has hosted 600 leading decision makers from the fields of business, politics, academia and civil society. 200 exceptional, young leaders, convene to foster discussion with global decision makers on key issues of our time.

Daniel Dippold is a student at the University of St.Gallen’s School of Economics, Law and Social Sciences, currently visiting South Africa in his capacity as the Ambassador of the symposium’s South African relations. He shares his insights on declining global economic growth and its implications for youth entrepreneurship in South Africa.


Each year, the International Students’ Committee (ISC) at the University of St. Gallen chooses an annual topic with the aim of capturing and condensing the most relevant debates currently shaping the world. The topic for this year’s symposium, which takes place from 11 – 13 May 2016 is: “Growth – the good, the bad and the ugly”.

Economic growth is the most powerful single determinant that has ever entered political and economic language. Lack of growth hamstrings governments and the private sector alike; questioning growth challenges the fundamentals of today’s political and economic system; abolishing it in turn demands alternatives even the concept’s most ardent critics have not come up with so far. One thing is for sure: as with any other dominant idea, the concept of economic growth is out there to be appreciated, questioned and reassessed in the context of today’s global economic climate.

Declining growth goes along with declining wealth. This puts pressure on, especially young entrepreneurs, to brace themselves against those predictions. When India reported double-digit growth in 2010, the excitement was monumental. But so was the collapse a year later. In April 2015, the International Monetary Fund revised SA’s economic growth forecasts downwards for 2015 to 2% from 2.3% in October and reduced that for 2016 to 2.1% from 2.5%.

However, particularly in South Africa which is teeming in goodwill and considerable potential, some hope is restored for recovery. So it stands to reason that we encourage entrepreneurs across South Africa, on occasions such as the recent INENG public policy events, to join our unique debate on growth and therewith create impact together.

Having 80 different nations represented at the St. Gallen Symposium, we are proud to have welcomed six future leaders from South Africa in 2014 including Siya Xuza, an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellow. Equally exceptional Leaders of Tomorrow include Bertrand Bardré, now Managing Director of the World Bank and Paul Achleitner, who now serves as the Chairman of the Deutsche Bank AG. Other examples include the IMANI Project, which was elected the second most influential think tank in Africa in 2014. It originated in 2000 at the St. Gallen Symposium, where three future leaders were united by the same idea: improving health conditions in Africa.

The St. Gallen Symposium is a platform where young leaders can access mentoring relationships, sponsors to help them realise their ideas, and join in the growing movement to strengthen our Leaders of Tomorrow Community, across every continent.


 Applications are open for young leaders, under 30, to submit an essay, under the topic: “What are alternatives to economic growth?” to compete for the St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award which could qualify you for participation as a Leader of Tomorrow. Some of the perks include:

  • Sharing your thoughts, ideas and visions with global decision makers
  • Expenses for travel, board and lodging covered by organisers
  • CHF 20,000 prize money – shared by three top winners
  • Media coverage
  • Being member of a truly unique and strong global community

Applications close on 1 February 2016 and more info may be found here.


Global Entrepreneurship Index 2016 – South Africa leading Africa and the BRICS

Global Entrepreneurship Index 2016 – South Africa leading Africa and the BRICS

During the recent Global Entrepreneurship Week we noted the release of 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index which provides a comprehensive overview of the health of a nation’s ecosystem through the development of an index methodology linking countries entrepreneurial framework conditions with individual level entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities and aspirations. The GEI not only ranks more than 130 countries on their entrepreneurial ecosystems but also provides a framework for understanding how those countries measure up against neighbouring ecosystems. Distinct from both output-based entrepreneurship indexes (i.e., new firm counts) and framework-based indexes (i.e., comparisons of countries’ policies and regulations), the GEI is designed to profile national entrepreneurial ecosystems. As stated by Zoltan Acs, founder of the GEI “In entrepreneurship, quality matters more than quantity. To be entrepreneurial, a country does not necessarily need the most entrepreneurs. They need the best. We must look to the countries with entrepreneurship-rich ecosystems to discover best practices and strengthen the world’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

GEI 2016 Index Ecosystem Model


This index makes for much better reading than most other South African entrepreneurship measures.  As in the 2105 Index South Africa is the best performing country in Sub Saharan Africa. It is also the best performing of any of the BRICS countries. After the consistently depressing news coming out of the annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reports it is a source of encouragement to end the year reflecting on the GEI 2016 results.

GEI 2016 Index SA

But it is not all good news.  While retaining our top position in Africa, South Africa’s overall score has dropped from 40% in 2015 to 38.5% in 2016 (in simple terms GEI suggests that we are operating at 38.5% of our entrepreneurship capacity, compared to the top country USA, which is operating at 86.2% of its capacity) Furthermore of the 14 pillars that make up the GEI, our weakest areas remain people related: start up skills and human capitals.  While the people challenges in South Africa are well know, it is interesting to note the third area of weakness is risk capital and this has shown a strong downward trend. It is evident that gaps in certain levels and types of funding is constraining the South African entrepreneurship ecosystem. Although as noted in our post from the ANDE annual conference there is an undeniable link between the financial capital invested and the level of human capital able to absorb that finance. So maybe even the risk capital deficit is also people related.

Finally the GEI has started to identify more far reaching implications of entrepreneurship. As Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Network notes  “Of particular significance to policymakers, this year’s edition of the Index offers evidence that entrepreneurship is a “global good” as it is highly correlated with bigger-picture human welfare goals such as increased economic growth, reduced income inequality, enhanced environmental quality, and wider political stability and security. The data provides evidence that entrepreneurs are a force for peace, equality and expanded human welfare.” Entrepreneurs as a force for equality is exactly the intention behind the Foundation’s vision in fostering responsible entrepreneurship for the common good.  It is exciting to read confirmation of this aspiration in such a well-researched context.

The full GEI 2016 Report can be downloaded here

#GEW2015 is done – who won #MakeAR100?

#GEW2015 is done – who won #MakeAR100?

The week-long, worldwide movement of entrepreneurial people (#GEW) was concluded on Sunday 22 November – and what a week it was! 7 million such people participated in 20 000 activities across 135 countries. They came together for learning, inspiration, support and to launch their business ideas and attract investors.

South Africa had 143 activities from 43 partner institutions and the Foundation was, once again, proud to be one of them. Last week, we wrote about the opening ceremony at GIBS which was well-received by various stakeholders cross-sectorally. We also mentioned our #MakeAR100 challenge and your chance to win R5 000 if the photo from your entrepreneurial idea had the most likes on our facebook page…more on that later. For now let’s reflect on the week that was and cast our eyes to what lies ahead.

It’s clear from this year’s GEW (and other engagements) that the South African government has made a meaningful commitment to supporting entrepreneurial development under the leadership of our first Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu. The Hon. Zulu has been instrumental in helping to bring the first-ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) to African soil in 2017. The GEC, an international landmark event, will bring 160 countries and an estimated 5 000 delegates to Johannesburg in 2017. These will include entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, policy makers and international bureaucrats.

Last week’s announcement of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Board in South Africa, appointed by GEN President, Jonathan Ortmans, will translate into ongoing support for the GEW. By leveraging an expansive global network, the GEN South Africa Board will ignite and promote entrepreneurship by fostering sustainable networks, connecting entrepreneurs to the best resources and ensuring that an entrepreneurial climate is cultivated – especially at grassroots level. And, finally, the moment for which we have been waiting. Who won the #MakeAR100 challenge?

The Foundation was a hive of activity last week and we got the country buzzing with entrepreneurial ideas. This year the ideas for making a R100 included:

  • Giving paid entrepreneurial talks
  • Making cup cakes
  • Selling homemade fudge
  • Offering breakfast and lunch services at the office
  • Fixing an engine
  • Making sculptures on the beach
  • Selling koeksisters
  • Running a healthy lifestyle workshop
  • A number of car washing efforts
  • Even a five year old entered the action selling lollipops
  • Turning soft drink plastic bottles into hanging gardens
  • Selling leather bags on-line
  • Dressmaking, knife sharpening, career consulting, nail polishing
  • You name it, someone tried it!

But after all this entrepreneurial energy, showing that everyone can exercise their entrepreneurial muscle, the winner of the #MakeAR100 challenge is… a young woman whose cupcake business got over 130 likes on our Facebook page…and the real cherry on top is the R5 000 cash prize that she wins…

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Well done Nokwanda Sithole!

We hope your business grows from strength to strength and that you inspire other South Africans to #MakeAR100 during next year’s GEW.

GEW 2015 is live – time to get involved

GEW 2015 is live – time to get involved

Lindiwe Zulu GEW2015Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2015 is now well underway and it promises to be the biggest yet – both in South Africa and globally!

South Africa kicked off its week with a significant event at GIBS in Johannesburg yesterday. Energised by the prospect of Johannesburg’s hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in March 2017, Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development delivered the opening keynote, closing with a powerful encouragement that together we can move forward in building a more entrepreneurial and prosperous South Africa.  The unique characteristic of Johannesburg’s 2017 GEC, the so-called “world cup of entrepreneurship”, is that it brings together all elements of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the greater good of making this event a success. This is not only for the sake of a single event, but for the purpose of ensuring that this unique opportunity leaves a lasting legacy of improved entrepreneurship in South Africa. It is seldom that all three levels of government, the business sector and civil society are so aligned around a single intervention.

For a sense of the international scale of GEW, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) President, Jonathan Ortmans gives the following overview:

Best of GEW 

Now a week that has 10 million people participating in over 30,000 events can be a little overwhelming.  So we decided to point out three of our highlights from the week: some new research, a new tool and an event worth virtually attending, before bringing you back home to remind you of the local #MakeAR100 Challenge

  • Release of 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index

Data released in the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) provides key information for policymakers and government leaders worldwide to strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems and promote high-growth, high-impact entrepreneurship. This comprehensive index looks at both individual and institutional factors contributing to the entrepreneurial performance of the 132 countries participating in the index. It suggests that the world is operating at 52% of its full entrepreneurial capacity.  The Index is, thankfully, much better news for South Africa as it is the top performing Sub-Saharan Africa country and leads all the other BRICS countries. We will look in more detail at the implications of the 2016 GEI for South Africa in a blog post later in the year.

  • Launch of Startup Compete platform

GEN announced the launch of its new online platform to unleash ideas and power startup competitions around the world.  Startup Compete (startupcompete.co) is a global networking site and competition platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors and advisors to connect with each other and bring potential business ideas to market. To date, the competition platform has hosted 624 startup competitions with 29,394 business ideas submitted. This platform makes it simple for organisers, but more importantly, it helps budding entrepreneurs sharpen their skills and grow their business idea.

  • Webinar: Why Entrepreneurship Should Be Taught to Everyone, Not Only to Potential Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 – 5pm SA time

Leading entrepreneurship researcher, Sara Sarasvathy, unpacks the powerful paradigm of seeing entrepreneurship as a method, with the following implications discussed:

  1. Teach entrepreneurship to everyone, not only to potential entrepreneurs;
  2. Collect data on exit;
  3. Focus on growing the middle class of businesses, not gazelles;
  4. Create an experienced entrepreneur corps of mentors;
  5. Learn to think about employment differently.

FOR INFO ON COURSE CONTENT: effectuation.org

REGISTER ONLINE: http://bit.ly/1Q26iL2


Our Make-A-R100 challenge is gaining momentum.  People have been finding intriguing ways to make their R100 from delivering medicine scripts, to selling African books or fresh fruit from the farmers markets. Some school learners even went dancing in the streets to earn their money!

These examples all show that entrepreneurship is possible. So accept the challenge and Make-A-R100 in the following easy steps:

  • Find a product or service to sell
  • Make R100 (or more) profit
  • Upload photos to our Facebook page.

The idea with the most likes on our Facebook page wins R5 000! Tag your friends, family and colleagues. Follow @allangrayorbis and share the #MakeAR100. Challenge closes on 22 November 2015. Remember your idea could become a high impact business that alters the country’s socio-economic landscape.

Do we bet on the jockey or the horse? | Bonnke Shipalana

Do we bet on the jockey or the horse? | Bonnke Shipalana

Bonnke CapricornBonnke Shipalana believes that, in the same way that no-one learns how to swim by reading a book about swimming, so entrepreneurship is taught or learnt by doing. Born in Nkowankowa, Limpopo, to an entrepreneurial family, Bonnke holds a BCom from NMMU. His belief in the values and ambition of Power FM founder, Given Mkhari, led him to join Mkhari’s The Communications Firm as a shareholder and CEO in 2007. Bonnke is a motivational speaker and radio personality.


Entrepreneurship plays a key role beyond the direct exchange between consumers and producers. It also offers an opportunity to build solid relationships between states, reduce unemployment and increase a country’s GDP. We can never undermine the power and influence that entrepreneurs have in shaping the future of any opportunity-rich country.

However the question is, if entrepreneurship is so indispensable to the building of an economy, why is the shortage of entrepreneurs so pervasive, in South Africa especially?

In my 20 years as an entrepreneur, I realise that the type of entrepreneurship education that is currently provided is the opposite of that deemed necessary for success by investors, venture capitalists and funding institutions. By and large, we end up with trained, “desktop” entrepreneurs who are unable to apply their skills by establishing or growing their businesses, mainly because of a lack of funding.

Our education system focuses on the horse – which includes a traditional business plan, risk analyses, financial forecasts and the obligatory 4 P’s of Marketing 101. Investors, however, evaluate a request based on the jockey – experience, personal traits, networks, skills, professional recommendations and passion. Which is why the age old questions invariably come up:

  • What is more important – education or experience?
  • Are entrepreneurs born or made?
  • Should one start a business without funding?

I’ve learnt that before one invests in a business or seeks business knowledge (education), one must invest in getting to know oneself, that is, one’s purpose.

Purpose is your unique reason for being on earth. It is a compass which one uses in order to navigate one’s way in life. Once you have a clear understanding of your purpose, you will be exposed to the core problems that only you were born to solve. And it’s through the solving of those problems that a business is built.

When one thinks of all the entrepreneurs who’ve changed the world and influenced the way we live, think and work, you realise that it was their desire to solve a particular problem that prompted them to start a business. So I believe that discovering your purpose is a necessary foundation for any entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship education, on the other hand, represents solid and reliable building materials. Education plays an important role in creating the space in which the entrepreneur can showcase his or her talent. Unfortunately education that is not linked to your unique sense of purpose is one of the main reasons why, according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs fail within the first 18-months.

A lack of purpose creates challenges for entrepreneurs when their businesses face economic, personal or other tests as they are unable to stay focused and hold on when business is bad.

Through my engagements with young people across the country, I’ve also found that a huge misconception by up-and-coming entrepreneurs is in thinking that mentorship can replace discovering your purpose and / or getting the right education. No-one in this world can discover your purpose or gain a qualification on your behalf. A mentor’s role is to help you avoid land mines and prepare you for business opportunities. This can only be achieved when one is already on the entrepreneurship journey – not when one is still contemplating going into business.

Asking someone to mentor you before going into business, is similar to buying car insurance when you haven’t had driving lessons or bought a car.

My personal advice to all students is that they first discover their purpose. On my personal journey I can recommend three ways to help in this:

  • Vocational work experience and volunteering. I volunteered to at my uncle’s shop during weekends between the age of 8 and 12 and the experience was invaluable. I also worked at Edgars for four years during my undergrad.
  • Starting a small business -I sold popcorn to my classmates when I was in Grade 5 then owned and managed four tuck shops at varsity
  • Formal work experience – At 20, I sold all my businesses to join corporates such as SABMiller, Standard Bank, PepsiCo and Cell C.