Framing entrepreneurship positively can help address its challenges

As South Africa looks for solutions to its current economic crisis, it is becoming more apparent that future economic growth in the country will need to be achieved through a collaborative effort between business and Government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged this and has pointed out that there will be increased involvement from the private sector in future. Several of South Africa’s top CEOs and companies have also signed a pledge to support a business-led initiative to assist the Government in getting the economy back on track and fixing the country’s energy, logistics, and security problems.

However, this can only be achieved with education and guidance. Realising that the responsibility of building a future generation of top-class business leaders starts with tertiary education, MANCOSA has launched several key initiatives to support entrepreneurial growth.

The Ignite Programme

The Ignite Programme is an entrepreneurial incubator that is rolled out in association with Explore ProTech Entrepreneurial Haven.

The Ignite Programme will see MANCOSA partner with some of the country’s prominent business leaders, who will nurture and offer key business ownership insights to aspiring entrepreneurs. The successful applicants will participate in a 16-week intensive training programme with access to coaching sessions, in-person activities and a network of entrepreneurs. Additionally, the programme seeks to establish connections and collaborations between entrepreneurs on local and global levels, eventually driving innovation and economic growth.

One of the realities that greatly influenced the establishment of the Ignite Programme is that many South African entrepreneurs turned to entrepreneurship with no formal training because of the current unemployment crisis and the South African household dependency ratio. This becomes a problem regarding critical business functions such as marketing, financial management and networking.

In addition, MANCOSA hosts several other business incubators that assist entrepreneurs in their development. 

The Honoris Career Development Centre

Deciding to become an entrepreneur is an important decision. Many students do not realise that entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

MANCOSA firmly believes that completing their tertiary education places a student in a firm position to enter into the job market successfully. However, we also noticed that support must be given to students entering the hypercompetitive job market. The Honoris Career Development Centre Will focus on the skills development component already offered by the MANCOSA Employability Department. The Career Centre will also focus on the skills that will ensure a successful transition into entrepreneurship. Lecturers and academics provide the majority of the support, while MANCOSA Alumni and Captains of Industry also play a significant role. This creates a space where students and alumni can network in person with a dedicated talent team.

Enhancing technological skills

Many businesses and business processes have become digitised since the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This was accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, where online business platforms thrived.

However, a recent report by SAP (titled Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed) points out that there has been no improvement in South Africa’s chronic shortage of all types of ICT skills across almost all sectors. In fact, the ICT skills gap continues to widen, hindering the continent’s digital transformation efforts. This is problematic given the gravitation towards digital business channels. To address this, MANCOSA is the first South African tertiary education provider to offer a postgraduate qualification in artificial intelligence (AI).

Many companies are spending considerable time and effort trying to determine the impact that AI will have on their business. This is done with some measure of trepidation as this impact – while unknown – can significantly impact the business. Enhanced insights into the world of AI and the positive impact it can have when it comes to entrepreneurship can build a bright future for South Africa.

As we can see, plenty of challenges are associated with entrepreneurship. However, if addressed appropriately, we can frame this conversation positively instead of negatively.

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