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Category Archives: Business

Fostering entrepreneurship, whose role is it anyway?

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Patrice Motsepe (Appropriated from Graysaber.com)

 

Whose responsibility is it to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst young people? I can submit without any shadow of doubt that entrepreneurship is a life blood of society. For citizens to prosper in any given territory, a country needs to offer itself as a supporting base and enabling environment for entrepreneurship. For this to happen, a society will need to reward innovative thinkers, identify mavericks and offer them all the support necessary for entrepreneurs to prosper in their quest.

Cameron Herold in a Ted Talk he delivered in Boston in 2009, he argues that parents must take it upon themselves to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship in their children. He couldn’t be further from the truth – just imagining the multiplier effect that would emanate from such a teaching, should every single household engage in it.

An article published by Finweek on the 14th of February, and titled “An academic role in fostering entrepreneurship”;Constant Beugre (cited) said that she is of the opinion that due to lack of entrepreneurship courses in African universities, these institutions should be involved in training people to create new ventures.

Now what I find rather fascinating about Beugre’s submission is that she holds a view that suggest that academic institutions should play a role in training new breeds of entrepreneurs.  It is particularly interesting to me on two grounds, first, how do you convince young people to not join big companies and start their ventures instead; and secondly what form of support mechanism would these universities offer these young people for them to be successful as entrepreneurs in the face of great uncertainty.

There are obviously reasons that prevent any aspiring, young entrepreneur to enter the market. Factors such as the following springs to mind: stringent labour laws, government policy bottlenecks, lack of funding and lack of environment in which “a noble business failure” is celebrated and seen as a valuable learning experience.

I also hold a similar sentiment by Beugre that academic institutions should offer a training ground to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship. A leading research university In South Africa, The University of Stellenbosch is offering that pad where student entrepreneurs can test their ideas. To delve further into the Stellenbosch case, the university recently launched an initiative called the launchlab, an incubation hub where student entrepreneurs can make use of at a nominal fee.Furthermore, to prove that the University of Stellenbosch is indeed playing a role in fostering entrepreneurship, its technology transfer company in association with the university centre for leadership development (The FVZS) run a business idea competition on an annual basis where students are invited to enter the competition by submitting any ideas they have. They need not submit business plans, just plain ideas.

Moreover, three students, (whom I desire not to mention for anonymity reasons) started a pitch in event, where students are invited to pitch their ideas to panel of judges. The person with the best idea stands a chance to win cash prize to turn his idea into a tangible form. There is no reason to doubt that students making use of these initiatives will leave Stellenbosch University very equipped to run their own enterprises.

Let me invite you to ponder on this, South Africa has 23 public universities (and some of them do offer entrepreneurship courses), another two in the pipeline, and some 50 public Further Education & Training colleges, what would happen if all these institutions replicate the model employed by the University of Stellenbosch and its students? How many well-equipped risk takers can come out of universities year in and year out? I can only think of a snow-ball effect!

Are we then safe to conclude that the institutions of higher learning have a rather positive role to play in fostering the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship? I think so!

I dream of a South Africa where innovation and entrepreneurship is admired, business failure encouraged and government policy bottlenecks relaxed! I dream of an innovative country.

“Dare to innovate”

Twitter: @Dumirocks

©2013

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Business

 

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Honour thy woman…..

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Prof. Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Price in 2004.

Women played a pivotal role in the past in the Republic of South Africa. They are the ones who marched to union building in protest of pass laws. Africa especially gave birth to women heroine whose selfless spirit champions the vision of women in the developmental state in Africa. Africa gave birth to beautiful daughters: daughters who uplift the spirits of their hopeless siblings, while reminding them that with dare attitude, dedication and nourishment of their talent they too can climb the celestial heights.

I am talking about women such as the recently elected chairman of the AU, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first African woman president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Price, Dr Wangari Maathai. These are women which young girls can look up to and be fueled with inspiration to do great things.

To encourage o’mama nabo sisi be Africa, I believe in inspiration, and I hope that by embedding this video below, they will be motivated. The speech is delivered by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, and it is titled Women entrepreneurs, example not exception and in her speech she encourages women to be entrepreneurs and calls women to move beyond what she terms “micro-ambitions’.

Malibongwe igama lamakhosikazi!

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Business, General

 

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Does South Africa offer an enabling entrepreneurial environment?

Image appropriated from bcablog.com

“Nurture not nature does appear to be more important in shaping the entrepreneurial mindset.” __  Maria Pinelli.

That comment made by the president of the Republic of South Africa still lingers strongly on my mind. You will remember he said then that he declares 2011 as the year of job creation, and further to that the New Growth path set an ambitious target of creating 5 million jobs by 2020. A rational human being can ponder on what Mr president said then and the ambitious target set by another ever-awesome ruling party’s policy document, and ask very poignant questions such as “How will those jobs be created?” and “Why create 5 million jobs, while we can create 1 million businesses?”

Those are questions that will really seek very educated guesses and intellectual arguments. Let me rather be on a discovery to explore this question “Does South Africa offers an enabling and a supportive entrepreneurial environment for its citizens?”

A reasonably well-headed individual wouldn’t dare challenge the assertion that “Entrepreneurship is vital for economic and societal development in any given country. It is an established notion that any country which rewards and compensate innovation is bound to produce more entrepreneurs than job seekers. I am of the view that the culture of entrepreneurship empowers an individual who take the risk to establish a new enterprise, that will eventually lead to job creation and  the economy which integrates itself  competitively on a global sphere.

As a student with an entrepreneurial spirit at heart, I do not really believe in the fact that as students graduates they should knock at the doors of blue chip companies and leading service firms in search for employment. I believe that new graduates are innovative, driven and have the skill and the drive to start new ventures. However, most of aspiring entrepreneurs are dismayed in launching their new enterprises by the knowledge that funding in South Africa is highly inaccessible, despite many venture capitalist and many incubators and support organisation that the country boast about.

Does South Africa offers and enabling and a supportive entrepreneurial environment? I am still on the course to discover that, bear with me as I journey through the said discovery.

Total Entrepreneurial Activity or TEA for short is a widely used tool used to measure entrepreneurial activity by looking at the percentage of individual active entrepreneurs, between the age of 25 and 64, in any given country. A research paper issued by a leading bank in the country, titled “The Entrepreneurial Dialogues, State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa”, revealed a rather mediocre static that South Africa TEA  was standing at 5% following the economic crisis in 2009.

There are fragmented approaches that seek to inspire entrepreneurship in South Africa. May I take a liberty of mentioning NYDA, (without being rebutted) and The Department of Industry and SEDA, to name but a few. I have a feeling that these support structures have failed most of the country’s aspiring entrepreneurs because it (this fragmented approaches) do not seem to be producing acceptable results. Frankly, they are failing at an alarming rate.

Maybe, South Africa is not a country whereby entrepreneurship and innovation is rewarded.

However, I must put my naivety aside and admit that strides are being made in corporate South Africa to nurture the culture of entrepreneurship. The Business Report, reported online on the 20th of February, that another leading South African banking house  has launched Enterprise Development, a unit focused and dedicated to assist the growth and development of emerging enterprises.

Even though my accounts, do not answer the question directly, it is evident that South Africa is trying harder through concerted efforts made by private individuals and responsible corporate giants to offer a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.

C’mom, the world is our oyster, as they say, let us develop an entrepreneurial flair as students and help make Msholozi’s far-fetched dream of  creating 5 million jobs to see a light of day.

DISCLAIMER: Some of my thoughts may surprise you, you are not alone, I surprise myself sometimes…

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Business, Economics

 

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Steve Jobs: A remarkable man

This was a homepage of Apple Inc during the grieving period. (Source:Apple)

The death of Steve Jobs brought in some really moving tribute, ranging from students who drew inspiration from him to businessmen who worked closely with him. On the day of his death, Steve Jobs became a trending topic on twitter with hash label #ThankyouSteve and #iSad.

For me Steve was one of my favourite business leader of all times and I regarded him as a true genious and the most innovative being that the human race has ever seen.I stand to be corrected on that, but South Africa’s leading scenario planner, Clem Sunter, concur with me in his article entitled “iWish” when he says and I quote “He was the ultimate entrepreneur whose creativity and passion for continuous innovation produced an array of products which have changed a billion lives”.

His presence on earth really blessed us with heavenly creations like iPad (that thing I am stiil saving dearly for) and he cheered kids with Toy Stories and Finding Nemo amongst other films through his company Pixar Animations, that he later sold to Disney in 2006.

Steve Jobs was a real genious.

One sunny boring day, I stumbled upon a commencement speech he delivered at Standford University. The speech was so moving that it gave one goose bumps. In it, Steve recounts three personal stories in which he advocates following your heart and doing what you love.

The following quotes made an impact on me as I was watching his talk on that boring sunny day.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

This is a speech that Steve Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005 for the graduation commencement. I hope you find it inspiring as I did.

Think different!

The homepage of Apple was followed by this message from Apple CEO, Tim Cook.

Steve Paul Jobs defined innovation and his legacy in the form of his iVersions will forever live on.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Business, Leadership, Social Media

 

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There is something common about The South African Riche

Business Times revelead that more than half of the top 20 richest people in the country attended public high schools. As their base for their wealth plenty of them had studied commerce or law or both in universities. Now you know what to study if you want to stand a chance to be featured on Sunday Times Rich List.

A man who topped the list Mr Patrice Motsepe hails from a rather rural town in Ga-Rankuwa. These people can be used as an inspiration to move forward in our pursuits. What I found more striking as I was reading the Rich list published in Sunday Times on the 6 September 2011, was that at least seven of those who feature on the Rich List studied at the prestigious Stellenbosch University. Stellenbosch University is that university that had produced what Julius Malema and Andile Lungisa had termed “Stellenbosch Mafia”, and a university I am looking forward eargerly to be an alummni of.

What is common about the nouveau riche in the list is that most attended public high school, handful hold Masters in business Administration (MBA), the majority of them had studied at Stellenbosch University and most are Chartered Accountants aka ‘the bean counters’. Can this really be a formula to be wealthy or to make it big in corporate South Africa?

The following list of people-in no particular order-proud themselves that Stellenbosch University is their alma mater:

  1. Christo Wiese
  2. Koos Bekker
  3. GT Ferreira
  4. Jannie Mouton
  5. Whitey Basson
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Johann Rupert

Proud to be a Matie? At least as students of the University of Stellenbosch, the seven people in the list inspire us to do more, work hard and strive to be relevant change agents in society.

Really, it must feel good to be a UHNWI – an ultra-high-net-worth individual!

Well done!

Source: Business Times

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Business

 

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Entrepreneurship and education are not mutually exclusive events……..

Mdu E Gama

Dr Mdu Gama is a chairman of MduGama Investments and also South Africa's first Doctor of Finance. (picture appropriated from: City of Johannesburg's website).

For far too many years we have come to convince ourselves that education and entrepreneurship cannot happen at the same time. Entrepreneurship is a process of taking an initiative to start a new business, and similarly education is the process of learning, and acquiring new skills. Developed countries around the world invest greater resources on programmes that focus on entrepreneurship. We cannot dispute the fact that entrepreneurship is a cornerstone to a stable economic growth. It is for this reason that entrepreneurship, innovativeness and competitiveness is the paradigm we must embrace.

Many upcoming entrepreneurs or start-up entrepreneurs show the determination, the will, innovativeness, energy and drive to start world-class businesses that will offer world-class products and services. These are indeed good qualities and prowess to have as an entrepreneur. However, the worrying factor is that many tend to discount the value of education [academic education]. With education one can learn invaluable skills that cannot be acquired anywhere other than the institutions of higher learning.

The maxim that exists among most start-up entrepreneurs is that education and entrepreneurship are mutually exclusive events; they in fact believe that entrepreneurship is the only way out. People like Dr Mdu Gama and Adrian Gore invalidates the myth that “education and entrepreneurship is a mutually exclusive event”. These two entrepreneurs are highly successful in their businesses, (with Gore at the helm of Discovery and Gama running his own investment firm) and yet they are very educated.

On the other hand, as aspiring entrepreneurs, we might convince ourselves that education is not a necessary route to be a successful entrepreneur. They use worn-out examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, to support their claims without acknowledging the fact that such entrepreneurs are the exception. Dr Mdu Gama says that the number of entrepreneurs who have made it without formal education has been decreasing over the past two decades.

In the knowledge economy we are now living in, education has become an imperative commodity in society. It is a knowledge economy because many things are centered around the accumulation of knowledge, information and generation of new ideas. This was further supported by Dr Ntokozo S Mthembu, when delivering his commencement address at Tshwane University of Technology, he said then that:

Some of you must define your niche in this global community. It means you must by necessity adopt an entrepreneurial approach. Be a visionary, be a leader. Create Value! View life as education, education as life and grab the opportunities available to you. Take advantage of those initiatives established by government to further your ideas, your education and entrepreneurship.

As an aspiring entrepreneur and you ignore the reality that education may give you the competitive advantage, would be irresponsibility of the highest order. Whatever you do, however you do it you dare not stand still lest you be overtaken! Or in the words of Nelson Mandela – “I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Business

 

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What can we learn from the Buffet family?

As people around the world were watching the royal wedding, I mean the wedding of Prince William of Wales and his fiancee Ms Catherine Middleton, investors  of Berkshire Hathaway were preparing for the company’s AGM (annual General Meeting).

On the 30 April 2011, Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway hosted their annual general meeting. Warren Buffet, now 81 year old remain my all time favourite person.  Not only does he inspire me with his intelligent way of investing, but also with his dedication to philanthropy.

In practice, just before the annual general meeting, listed companies send what is called “Notice of AGM” to their shareholders. Notice of AGM (annual general meeting) is the letter that notifies shareholders of  the upcoming companys’ general meeting. Berkshire Hathaway is not an exception to this practice. Earlier this year, when Berkshire Hathaway send the letters to its shareholders, I also managed to put my fingers on the copy. I am not saying that I am a shareholder of Berkshire, I will need to work for donkeys years to afford one unit of stock in Berkshire, but I checked that letter out of curiosity.

Financial illiteracy is a problem in Africa. We need a mechanism in with which the problem of financial illiteracy can be addressed. According to the Saving institute of South Africa, about 2% of South Africa’s working population are saving.

Financial literacy can be defined as follows:

Financial literacy is the combination of consumers/investors understanding of financial facts and concept, and their ability to appreciate financial risks and opportunities to make informed choices, to know where to go for help and to take other effective actions to improve their financial well-being.(OECD)

When I was paging through the said letter, I stumbled upon a very good letter that teaches about how to save and keep excess money in reserve. With this letter one can learn the power of saving  and financial independence. This was the letter written to Uncle Sam Buffet  from dad on how to save for stormy days. Uncle Sam is Warren’s dear uncle.

I believe that this letter contains a lesson or two that can lead one to financial independence. Click the link below to read the letter.

letter to uncle Sam

On an unrelated chain of events, how true is that  Osama Bin Laden has been killed?

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Business, Economics

 

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