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A Positive Entrepreneurial Environment

“A positive entrepreneurial environment is …dependent on a system which effectively balances government and private sector needs and interventions. Only within such a stable and positively geared environment will entrepreneurship come into its own. Internationally and nationally, it is the time for entrepreneurship.” GEM 2007

It is indisputable that many indicators are leading to the common view that the time for entrepreneurship is now. At SAIE we hold that view passionately. We have increased our impact both in product offering and in reach and impact.

Taking a long-term view, we believe that the creation of an entrepreneurial mindset is a pre-requisite to the development of successful enterprises. Without the qualities of thinking and innovation together with business knowledge – small businesses will fail. We are encouraged that the latest GEM report (2007) focuses almost solely on youth entrepreneurship. Even more encouraging is their conclusion that “youth in South Africa are positively orientated towards entrepreneurship.” We are beginning to see that our 10 years of work in schools has played a part in this positive orientation.

However, the report goes on to say that SA can “ill-afford the youth to become disillusioned about entrepreneurial development in this country. Other countries have shown that the result is normally of a negative nature, such as unrest.” At the time of writing, SA is experiencing the playing out of exactly this unrest in the form of xenophobic attacks on foreigners. We are aware that this is due to complicated a combination of factors, not least of which is the problem of unemployment and a lack of local entrepreneurship.

Other factors that are critical to the development of entrepreneurship are the need for education and the development of self-confidence. Our BusinessVENTURES youth entrepreneurship development programme is aimed specifically at addressing these issues and continues to work with youth in schools to grow their entrepreneurial thinking and doing skills and confidence to start a business.

To date we have trained 15 237 educators across all provinces. These educators have used 6 506 BusinessVENTURES programmes covering the EMS curriculum in 5 309 schools. Our materials have exposed 407 020 learners in 21 907 -classrooms to entrepreneurship and the subject of EMS. SAIE works in all grades and has also translated all the materials into Afrikaans and the lower grades into Setswana, Xhosa and Zulu.

In this way SAIE has contributed to improving education by providing much needed learning resources; teaching educators the content and systems of EMS and how to teach entrepreneurship using action learning methodologies; developing an entrepreneurial mindset in both educators and learners and providing the platform for enterprise development and job creation of the future of the country. We heartily endorse the view which says, “It is important that nobody be scared away from entrepreneurship. Therefore, teaching frameworks should allow for the gradual development of entrepreneurial knowledge and experience over time. They should allow for the entrepreneurial philosophy to be included in all subject matters and ensure that presenters of entrepreneurship are promoting entrepreneurship and not merely teaching about entrepreneurship.” GEM 2006

A further critical issue facing not only SA but the entire world, is the problem of food production and food insecurity. Agriculture is the most important sector in the economies of most African countries in that it accounts for 35% of GDP, 40% of exports and 75% of employment. Unfortunately the performance of the sector has been below expectation. NEPAD has set a goal of 6% annual growth in agriculture reflecting the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and hunger by 2015. In South Africa food insecurity and malnutrition are highest in provinces with large rural populations. In these rural areas the activity is mostly at the subsistence level which makes for a hard life, particularly in areas hard hit by HIV.

“Put farming and Aids together, add drought or disease and you have a diabolical mixture of circumstances. Subsistence farmers typically work in remote areas with poor access to markets and agricultural services. Poverty is widespread. The burden of tending to family members with Aids-related diseases – and the frequent deaths – leads to a decline in production among subsistence households, as human and financial resources are invested in taking care of people rather than crops and animals. Lower production, in turn, causes food insecurity that exacerbates the effects of Aids – and heightens the likelihood of HIV exposure and infection. A vicious cycle is set in motion.” (Mail & Guardian 7 June 20005).

SAIE’s experience with the successful BEST Game led to the development in 2004 of AgriPlanner as a tool to address the problem of food insecurity. The programme assists emerging farmers to make viable businesses from their farms. To date SAIE has worked in 23 communities through 15 partner NGOs running 57 programmes. These projects have assisted 192 trainers to reach 1 109 farmers (a total of 387 urban and 896 rural participants).

SAIE’s partnership with the Department of Agriculture is growing. The Buhle Farmer’s Academy is an Agricultural College in Delmas, Mpumalanga, providing training for emerging and small-scale farmers. Buhle has incorporated AgriPlanner into its SETA accredited curriculum and 2008 sees the first participants graduating in June.

Both education and agriculture are sectors where it pays to take a longterm view. SAIE has been in existence for twelve years working steadily in these two areas particularly. We believe that the combination of working in schools and in with emerging farmers – two of the critical areas for economic growth – positions SAIE as a leading contributor to the success of the country.

SAIE’s BEST Game remains its flagship product with continued requests for its use coming particularly from countries worldwide. Partners in Uganda, Zambia, Albania, Kazakstan, Kyrgystan, Kosova, Tanzania, Kenya, Afganistan have all recently experienced the spill and thrill of the BEST Game. In South Africa we are particularly encouraged about the impact that the BEST Game is having at the Siyazigabisa Home of Hope in Tembisa, Gauteng (covered in more detail in this report) and Hommoequa Craft Community Project in Humansdorp, Eastern Cape.

Notwithstanding this impact, our success is only as effective as the scale we can reach. Can SAIE make enough of an impact to move from the sense of emptying the sea with a teaspoon to knowing that we have reached a tipping point of a tsunami-like wave of new growth?

This tipping point can only be reached through partnerships and to this end we are most encouraged by our recent partnerships with the Department of Education which is more and more seeing SAIE as a key partner in the provision of EMS materials.

In addition, Umsobomvu Youth Fund continues to partner with SAIE having been a partner since 2003. Through UYF’s networks and resources we have been able to reach a significant number of learners particularly in KZN and EC.

Most significantly in 2008, SAIE has been approached by loveLife to partner it in its next phase of development – namely the Make Your Move campaign. The goal for loveLife in 2008 is to create the idea that change is possible but that it requires small actions every day by every young person – actions that will help them achieve their goals, are within their power, and enable them to stay free of HIV. This is the essence of the campaign.

SAIE has been given the wonderful opportunity to develop entrepreneurship and life skills tools to support the loveLife campaign. These materials include two new workbooks; The 10 Commitments and Movers Map, two new interactive group games; Dilemmas and Trade Offs, a series of cards identifying a broad range of easy Micro Moves and Tracks (comic reaching 650 000 readers monthly through loveLife’s UnCut magazine). We have been energized by this development process which has been creative, unrestricted and carried out in energetic collaboration with the loveLife team.

SAIE has trained 85 LoveLife facilitators and following this the goal is to reach 3800 schools, through loveLife’s corps of 1700 GroundBreakers and a further 5000 volunteer peer motivators (know as mpintshis). Approximately 800 000 learners participate in LoveLife’s peer motivation programme called loveLifestyle every year. These learners will now be exposed to these new SAIE-developed materials as well as to SAIE’s BEST Game and Dicover your Career guide.

In 2005 SAIE’s Preferred Futuring strategic planning process set its goals for 2015. A significant step towards these has been made through the addition of these new materials to the SAIE product offering. In addition, the potential for large-scale reach to young people is a definite stride to reaching the goal of “being widely recognized as a world leader in the production and development of learning resources…known for its cutting-edge innovation with its advice and opinions sought after by key delivery agencies”. SAIE Annual Report 2005/6.

The question of sustainability it always top of mind and we are therefore continually grateful for our partnerships with our funders. The fact that they share our vision and see us as assisting in this growth of SA is very encouraging. We strive constantly for models of self-sustainability and to this end have an income stream in the form of royalties for the use of our materials both locally and internationally. In addition we have established an Institutional Strengthening Funding – the purpose of which is to build up a growth fund that can provide the organization with consistent monthly income rather than the random feast-to-famine cash-flow rollercoaster that is the lot of the NGO sector.