The annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (#GEW), held between 16 and 22 November, always results in a hive of activity at the Foundation. Along with 43 other partner institutions in South Africa, we celebrated this initiative by covering various aspects of GEW in our blog, running our second #MakeAR100 challenge and speaking about it as often as we could. Our CEO, Anthony Farr, had an interview on eNCA’s Moneyline.
Anthony’s interview allowed him to express his deep concern about the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa. As a developing country, at least 20% of our population should be actively involved in entrepreneurship, but our country’s current involvement sits at only 7% – a third of what it should be.
He pointed out that one of the reasons for our lack of entrepreneurs is a lack of entrepreneurial intent – an inability to see that being a job creator is neither second class nor inferior to being employed. Secondly, the quality of our human capital is not as it should be. The higher-order cognitive activities of innovating are crucial to entrepreneurship and the development of this capacity is often neglected in our current education system.
Yet, despite these dismal statistics, there are those who are passionately striving to be job creators and those who work to discover and help these mavericks on their way. The Foundation’s efforts are all geared to move their beneficiaries from the job-seeking path to one where opportunity recognition and creating solutions are a way of life.
In response to the question of why, despite the many organisations and bodies promoting small business development and entrepreneurship, there is still a lack of entrepreneurs in this country, Anthony made an astute observation. He said that the myriad available opportunities, such as funding, cannot be harnessed without the human capital needed to sustain it. This is why the Foundation places such a premium on things like mentorship, mindset development and starting early.
In addition to starting early Anthony suggested that a shift is needed in the thinking that assumes entrepreneurship is only for a select few. It is precisely for this reason that the Foundation’s #MakeAR100 challenge (which tasks everyone to find a way of making a R100 by providing a service or selling a product) was so passionately pursued. As encouragement to see much more of this kind of entrepreneurship, Anthony said, “There’s a sense that entrepreneurship is this mystical thing that people don’t understand … but there’s a base level of entrepreneurial capacity that we can all bring to our society and it can only be for our benefit.”