‘Empowering entrepreneurs means growing a country’s economy’

Levels of motivation to start a business differ around the world, and in South Africa entrepreneurship is often necessity driven due to businesses being created as a result of a need for employment, rather than because the business owners view the business as an entrepreneurial opportunity.

According to Christo Botes, Executive Director of Business Partners Limited, in order to shift necessity-driven entrepreneurship to opportunity-driven entrepreneurship, an investment into entrepreneurial development is needed in the country. Botes explains that an opportunity-driven entrepreneur is an individual who strives to capitalise on opportunities in the broader economy.

“While necessity-driven entrepreneurs are benefiting the economy, their businesses are often developed out of need and related to one specific and physical skill, such as building, selling or designing. These entrepreneurs hold the skill necessary to do the job, but require basic business development support in order to grow their business further than the one particular skill.”

Entrepreneurs are economic development assets and entrepreneurship development enables a country to grow its economy by supporting local entrepreneurs, says Botes. He adds that entrepreneurial development and equipping entrepreneurs with the necessary tools is a method of ensuring further entrepreneurial opportunities that can be identified and capitalised on for not only the business owner, but also its employees, family, suppliers, customers and the economy at large.

“The true test of entrepreneurship does not lie in starting a business, but in being able to maintain continued success and growth for the business. One way to grow entrepreneurship in South Africa is to empower and equip motivated entrepreneurs, which will ensure that they are capable to capitalise on the opportunities available to them.

“Equipping new business owners with knowledge on how to manage, expand and develop their business will ensure continued business growth.”

He says that in order to continuously support and nurture entrepreneurial development in South Africa, an entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be established. “Creating such an ecosystem is a long-term project, which requires a mix of structured programmes and support mechanisms that are aimed at stimulating and developing entrepreneurs, and one such element to this ecosystem is establishments that focus on entrepreneurship, as well as provide education in business skills and promote mentorship and training.”

Further education 

He points to the Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA), a non-profit business school that educates entrepreneurial leaders who ignite opportunity and social change. Founded in 2004 with the vision to “ignite opportunity”, TSiBA provides emerging leaders with the opportunity to study high quality, accredited academic courses focused on developing entrepreneurship and leadership.

Business Partners Limited formed a relationship with TSiBA in 2006, and this year nominated select entrepreneurial clients to attend a course with the school.

Deez Adams, owner of Deezal Trading, a contracting company specialising in commercial and residential timber flooring and structures, was selected to take part in the training and is currently enrolled in an eight month Sanlam/TSiBA Business Development Programme which covers subjects such as marketing, project administration reports, financial skills, business planning strategy and social media.

Adams says an entrepreneur is an individual who, out of necessity, identifies an opportunity and harnesses an industry to maximise its benefits.

Currently in his second month of training, Adams affirms the importance of such entrepreneurial development initiatives. “Many entrepreneurs are tradesmen skilled in a specific craft, and in my case it is carpentry. While I can build and design, I lack the necessary skills to effectively run and maintain a good business. Although I do what needs to be done in my business to keep the pipeline flowing, I am not necessarily ticking all the boxes that I should. The business skills covered by TSiBA in the training programme are therefore invaluable to me and similar entrepreneurs.

“Institutions such as TSiBA support local individuals who have become entrepreneurs not because they are gifted or have taken business courses, but because they have a certain kind of drive in them that is only found in entrepreneurs. We don’t have the business training like business college graduates so entrepreneurial development courses ensure that we receive this much needed training and fine tuning of our entrepreneurial skills,” says Adams.

Botes says that entrepreneurial development is imperative as it ensures all entrepreneurs are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to grow their business from strength to strength, as well as ensure they are on par with that of their competitors. “Entrepreneurs who have previously undergone such training not only have newly acquired skills to apply to their business, but have the confidence to step out of their current comfort level.

“This entrepreneurial development also supports entrepreneurs to turn opportunities into real business ventures and maximise on real sustainable job creation which are both needed for the local economy to grow,” concludes Botes.