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Entrepreneurship in Africa – Food for thought

By De Wet Schoeman, Director of USB-ED’s Centre for Applied Entrepreneurship

In a recent article entitled: Pushing boundaries for change: Africa’s young social entrepreneurs three important issues regarding socioeconomic development and entrepreneurship in Africa were highlighted.

Firstly, the article emphasised that one of the underlying pillars of socioeconomic development in any country is the presence of a critical mass of individuals with entrepreneurial mind-sets: people who do not accept the status quo, but are willing to take risks and try actively to do something about it.  

Secondly, it emphasised the fact that entrepreneurship should not only be linked to the idea of someone starting a business in order to make a profit, but that entrepreneurship can manifest in many different ways.  So-called ‘social entrepreneurship’ is one of these ways, namely where the main driving force is to address some or other social issue and bring about social transformation.  

Thirdly, business-driven and society-driven entrepreneurs make up a great deal of the social and economic development in many countries all over the world.  It is therefore imperative that Africa should raise the general level of entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour all over the continent if we really want to see more ‘self-driven’ social and economic progress. In order to achieve this, good quality entrepreneurship training and development is needed.  The higher the general level of entrepreneurial thinking in a society, the more business and social entrepreneurs will arise as a result.  

There is often too much of a focus on identifying potential entrepreneurs and training them and not enough focus on creating education systems that will contribute to a higher level of entrepreneurial thinking and behaviour in general. With the correct education system in place, business and social entrepreneurs will emerge in higher numbers from the system.  It is not always possible to identify people with ‘entrepreneurial potential’.  People always surprise you. What is needed is to create a system that will enhance higher levels of entrepreneurial thinking – the achievement of a ‘critical mass’ of social and business entrepreneurs will then follow naturally.    

There is therefore no quick-fix solution to this challenge.  It will take time, effort and money, but the sooner we start to invest in entrepreneurship education on a wider scale, the sooner we will reap the benefits.   

For more information on entrepreneurship at USB Executive Development, contact De Wet Schoeman at 021 918 4216 or email dewet.schoeman@usb-ed.com. ​

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