What makes us unique?

Founder’s report

Margie-Worthington-Smith

The team at the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship has always been driven by the belief that in order to create a dynamic culture of entrepreneurship which promotes entrepreneurial behaviour and the creation of jobs, the organisation itself needs to be entrepreneurial while holding fast to its core values and ideologies. It is this belief that makes our institute unique.

Because we are firm believers that entrepreneurship can be taught (we have witnessed it over the past 19 years), we have always held onto the model that sees this process as a continuum that combines education and training. We believe in entrepreneurship development through the education of young people and adults in the combination of mindset (the art) plus skills (the science). Training thus includes the opportunity to put skills and capabilities into practice, and it is by ‘doing’ business that real businesses are created, sustained and developed. This is why the SAIE has always had experiential learning as one of its core values.

Both education and training are conducted by inspirational teachers with the belief that all people with the access to these have the ability to learn and do. Add to this innovative, creative experiential learning materials and the learning becomes desirable, compelling and impactful.

Our goal is for all South Africans to behave
entrepreneurially, so we need to walk that
talk and as such are ourselves an example
of the entrepreneurial process.

The SAIE has a unique element embedded in every learning tool, activity and process: our key entrepreneurial drivers. All the learning methodologies in each programme combine to make up the vehicle in which the content is carried. These entrepreneurial drivers include: taking initiative and risk; looking out for opportunities; being resourceful; tapping into interests; thinking flexibly, creatively, critically and independently; questioning; working with a team; having a sense of wonder, of adventure and of determination. These qualities combine to create the mindset that we aim to unlock.

So the equation that makes up the uniqueness of the SAIE is the combination of excellent facilitators and entrepreneurial, experiential material with participants who know that their potential is believed in. The participants are either students in the education system or adults who are developing skills, creating start-up businesses and growing them into sustainable enterprises.

The ultimate goal of the entrepreneur
is to create a new outcome that is
acknowledged by having replicators and
imitators following in its stead.

Our goal is for all South Africans to behave entrepreneurially, so we need to walk that talk and as such are ourselves an example of the entrepreneurial process. The World Bank defines an entrepreneur as being ‘an individual who recognises opportunities with the purposes of creating value and wealth, whether through informal or formal economic activity’. These opportunities lie within a context and in the SAIE’s case its context is South Africa with all the opportunities that this country offers. In 1996 the institute took the first steps to identify and seize these opportunities. This report will show how over the past year (and in the 18 preceding it) we have identified opportunities in education, agriculture, small business and technology.

The entrepreneurial process of innovation harnesses inspiration and uses its own (or finds other) entrepreneurial qualities or drivers to take direct action. Consequently the SAIE is not only an advocating body lobbying for change, but also, like an entrepreneur, we have taken action to improve mindsets and develop skills by conducting thousands of hours of training and education.

This has required immense courage as the going is not always easy. As with any entrepreneur, there is a need for fortitude and determination to overcome obstacles (such as limited funding, intransigent gate-keepers etc) and create new highways. It is a risky business and requires enormous commitment. In the case of the SAIE, this can be seen through the impact that we have made over decades and our very low staff turnover.

The ultimate goal of the entrepreneur is to create a new outcome that is acknowledged by having replicators and imitators following in its stead. The SAIE believes that it is on the road to creating this new outcome. More and more the message that we have preached and the work that we have done in growing entrepreneurs is moving to centre-stage as the world, the country and local communities are realising the value of entrepreneurship as the new order needed in our country and beyond. And yes, the SAIE has had many imitators and we are complimented by that!

Margie Worthington-Smith
Founder, SAIE

In the course of conveying knowledge and learning in its chosen sectors of education, agriculture, information technology and enterprise development, the SAIE develops innovative materials:

  • to support educators and trainers
  • that are designed using creative methodologies
  • that unlock entrepreneurial thinking and
  • that develop entrepreneurial mindsets

Context-Opportunity