It is a well-known fact that the state of South African education is in crisis. In 1996 when the SAIE was established, the country was emerging from the legacy of the apartheid system with a double-edged sword of outstanding education for a limited number of South Africans and poor education for the majority. In an effort to reverse this situation, there was much hope after 1994 that the new systems would balance the methodologies, content and equality for all learners. Unfortunately, through a series of misguided decisions, by the early 2010 South Africa found itself to be country number 140 out of 144 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum, and 143rd out of 144 in Maths and Science. Of the 1.2 million South African learners enrolled in school in 2001, only 44% stayed the course to 2012 and of these only 12% passed matric well enough to go to university. Just 11% of those who wrote Maths passed with 40% or above. The reasons given for this disastrous situation are many, but primary amongst them are in-classroom factors such as poorly prepared teachers and poor resources, in-school factors such as poor management and leadership, and outside factors such as parental support, distance from schools and poverty.
Entrepreneurs look at suboptimal situations and see opportunities where others see disaster, and the SAIE as an entrepreneur is no different.
As far back as 1996 we saw the opportunity to influence the mindset of learners to think entrepreneurially. We did this by developing the Business Ventures curriculum to be used in schools as a core part of the curriculum. Because it could not be assumed that educators would be well-prepared nor have access to quality materials, the SAIE developed innovative, interactive, fully-researched materials and provided teacher training. Embedded into every lesson plan are the key entrepreneurial drivers that form the core values of the SAIE. The goal: to have every learner behave entrepreneurially.
Entrepreneurs look at sub-optimal situations
and see opportunities where others see disaster,
and the SAIE as an entrepreneur is no different.
Access to sufficient food is the constitutional right of all South Africans. Although at the national level SA is a food secure nation, at the level of households the picture is very different. Stats SA indicates that around 35% of the total population is currently vulnerable to food insecurity. Women, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable with 1.5 million children under six years being malnourished and therefore stunted because of lack of proper nutrition (Stats SA: Measuring Poverty in SA, 2000).
Because of the high vulnerability of food insecurity
at the household level in SA, it is recommended that
efforts be geared towards strengthening small-scale
farming and community food gardening programmes
So the problem is not that SA can’t provide food, but that the access to food at the household level is problematic; KZN, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State are the worst affected provinces. The movement of male labour to urban areas has resulted in the erosion of the fundamentally agrarian existence of Black Africans and a subsequent increased reliance on non-farm and non-rural incomes. Purchased food, as opposed to own-produced food, leaves households exposed to price fluctuations and, given that the ultra-poor spend more than 50% of their income on food, this has a devastating impact.
Poverty and food-insecurity go hand-in-hand in a devastating, self-perpetuating cycle. The chronic lack of food security experienced by more than a third of the country’s population highlights the severe inequalities in SA’s society and impacts on the current and future stability of the nation. At the household level food insecurity leads to disproportionately high health and medical costs, high funeral expenses, poor educational development and low labour productivity. Because of the high vulnerability of food insecurity at the household level in SA, it is recommended that efforts be geared towards strengthening small-scale farming and community food gardening programmes; most importantly it should provide the opportunity for these initiatives to generate income to supplement household food provision.
Access to agricultural support services remains the major factor constraining the growth of smallholder agriculture in SA and unless farmer support programmes of appropriate scale and scope are put in place, smallholder farmers will have little chance of escaping poverty. In terms of current best practice for addressing food insecurity, it is clear that programmes must invest in training for small-scale producers, most critically by providing entrepreneurial expertise. In this way rural food gardeners will be able to be linked to the economic mainstream.
This is the context that faced the SAIE in 2004 when it was approached by a number of stakeholders to assist with programmes that combined entrepreneurship education with agri-business skills. Using the core ideologies that believe in the potential of the participants, the inclusion
of entrepreneurial drivers and experiential methodologies, the SAIE developed the AgriPlanner suite of programmes. With significant funding from Coronation Fund Managers, it has been able to develop materials; train trainers, farmers and learners; and support and link emerging farmers to markets.
For many years the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has confirmed the SAIE’s experiences on the ground: coming consistently last out of all African countries participating in this annual survey, South Africa is not an entrepreneurial nation. The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation commented in June 2015 that SA’s “2014 fall in GEM’s main measure, Total Entrepreneurship Activity, was dramatic from 10.6% in 2013 to 7.0% in 2014 – a startling fall of 34% in a single year. If we apply these percentages to the related South African population numbers, it means we have roughly a million less entrepreneurs than in the prior year”
If we can develop a vibrant entrepreneurial culture –
something at the core of the existence of the SAIE for
nearly 20 years – SA could become a winning nation.
Since 2010 the SAIE has been watching with interest the development of a new measure in the form of the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) that measures entrepreneurship capacity slightly differently. The GIE, released this year, places South Africa 53rd out of 130 countries participating and indicates that it is operating at 40% of its entrepreneurship capacity (with the world as a whole at 52%). In addition, South Africa is at the top of the sub-Saharan African region and well above the next highest African country Botswana which placed 66. Why is this so different from the GEM findings over the years? This is because the GEI measures different aspects to GEM (entrepreneurial attitudes, entrepreneurial abilities and entrepreneurial aspirations) and looks at both individual and institutional variables, unlike GEM that only has an individual variable. Entrepreneurial attitudes are how a society feels about recognising opportunities, knowing and admiring entrepreneurs, accepting risk in starting up businesses and having the skills to do so. Entrepreneurial abilities are the characteristics of entrepreneurs – these can vary from sector to sector and are influenced by age, education etc. Entrepreneurial aspirations are the entrepreneur’s efforts to develop and grow into new markets or new products. (GEI 2015).
Our human capital development is low and, if we see this as a glass half full, this provides a wonderful opportunity for improvement and growth. SA measures low on indices that only measure individual variables (like GEM) however the good news is that SA is relatively strong institutionally. So, if we can develop a vibrant entrepreneurial culture – something at the core of the existence of the SAIE for nearly 20 years – SA could become a winning nation, even an entrepreneurial role model to the rest of the world. The areas where we can improve the most are in start-up skills and human capital development; only 42.7% of our population perceive that they have the capabilities for starting a business (compared to a sub-Saharan Africa average of 74%).
When the SAIE was established in 1996, we believed that there was enormous potential given the strength of the country institutionally and the unlocked and undeveloped individual potential. Our goal was to develop an entrepreneurial culture through mindset and skills development. This is now being borne out by the findings of the GEI that give credence to the opportunities the SAIE identified in small business and enterprise development, in which we are still involved in 2015.
South Africa is a country facing a huge unemployment challenge. According to the Labour Force Survey, released by Statistics South Africa in 2015, the SA unemployment rate is 24%. The growing unemployment is particularly evident amongst the country’s youth (about 60% are unemployed) who often lack the experience, skills and education required to seek employment in the formal sector of the economy. Of the 1.4 million young people who started school in 2002, only about 400 000 achieved a matriculation pass, leaving 1 million whose prospects for finding employment are extremely limited.
…the demand for more techno centres keeps
growing, particularly from the youth, who have
now woken up to the idea of active economic
engagement through self-employment.
Many attempts have been made by organisations to address the unemployment problem, but very few have succeeded in making any impact. It is for this reason the SAIE introduced its high impact Information Technology programme to facilitate economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation, particularly in the highly underprivileged provinces of KZN, Northern Cape, Free State, North West and Eastern Cape. The SAIE Information Technology Programme sets to provide a viable alternative panacea to the unemployment challenges facing the youth in South Africa.
There is a critical need to promote entrepreneurship in information technology in South Africa, especially among people living in rural and peri-urban areas. In addition, the acquisition of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills (recognised as Scarce and Critical Skills in the country) is a vital ingredient in improving employability and building a knowledge-based economy. The SAIE Information Technology Programme is aimed at making an impact in the areas of both entrepreneurship and employability through ICT skills acquisition. Given the gradual emergence of the success of the techno enterprise intervention in the various provinces, the demand for more techno centres keeps growing, particularly from the youth, who have now woken up to the idea of active economic engagement through self-employment.
The project also involves the establishment of self-sustaining information technology training centres – each owned by an entrepreneur and managed through a franchise system. Through the use of purpose built, learner-driven teaching software, these centres are able to provide a comprehensive course in End User Computing over a period of three months. Results from similar centres indicate that a minimum of 60% of the graduates from these programs obtain employment immediately, since their newly-acquired skills equip them to be productive in clerical or related positions.