Business Ventures Full Impact Report
- Date: 2005/2006
- Product: Business Ventures
Introduction and background to the evaluation
There is wide consensus in South Africa that the country needs to
entrepreneurs as a means of growing the economy and creating new
jobs. Evidence from the 2004 and 2005 South African Global
Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reports show young adults in South
Africa are significantly less likely to believe they possess the necessary
skills and knowledge to start a business compared to similar
developing countries like Argentina, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Internationally there has been very little rigorous impact evaluation done for youth entrepreneurship courses, and especially within the school curriculum as opposed to voluntary after school programmes.
The governments of many countries around the world are looking for ways the education sector can more directly contribute to the development of greater numbers of entrepreneurs. The school system is seen as one of the institutions with the greatest opportunity to have a mass impact on entrepreneurial attitudes and business skills and this is one of the arenas where the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) has chosen to intervene. SAIE attempts to influence learners’ entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and attitudes by improving the educational process through quality materials and educator training. SAIE makes a clear distinction between promoting entrepreneurship versus other more general economic and management science (EMS) topics.
After developing and using entrepreneurship education programmes in over 2,500 South African schools over the past 10 years, the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship felt ready to take the step of measuring the effects of their courses. In 2003 a pilot study was done in 5 greater Cape Town schools that showed the Business VENTURES (BV) course, compared to a control group, had significant positive effects on learners’ entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and attitudes for those using BV in the Economic and Management Science (EMS) curriculum. Two of the recommendations from that study were
- to evaluate Business VENTURES after a longer period of the programme’s use (a school year as opposed to 9 weeks) and
- to evaluate a larger and more diverse group of schools and learners.
This study is an extension of the pilot study to 41 schools in two provinces.
Purpose of 2005 research on effects of Business VENTURES
The overall purpose of the research is to help the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship and its stakeholders know if the Business VENTURES course is meeting its aim of creating a culture of entrepreneurship in the youth of South Africa to encourage more entrepreneurial ways of earning a living. More specifically, the research sets out to answer the question of how effectively the Business VENTURES course helps learners improve their entrepreneurial knowledge, skills and attitudes compared to traditional approaches like using textbooks. From a research methodology perspective, it is hoped the study will help advance impact evaluation methodologies in this important area of entrepreneurship education.
Quantitative research results
The results of the 2005 study again yielded positive results for Business VENTURES, but they also pointed to a picture far more complex than originally thought. Overall the study revealed some valuable new insights. Firstly, extraneous factors (like socio-economic or predominant racial profile of a school) are a powerful influence on student performance, some being more influential than teaching materials. Secondly, entrepreneurial skill acquisition is not a neat, linear process, but proceeds haphazardly over a longer period of time than originally thought (the research revealed stronger performance improvements over a two year period associated with use of BV rather than within one year). And thirdly, SA schools are complex, fluid and challenging environments for educational interventions, therefore implementation issues are critical to succeed in improving student performance.