Report reveals attitudes towards entrepreneurship in Africa

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African entrepreneurs rank the EU as the region offering the most profit potential to new African Business, despite Europe’s recent economic woes. One in three (32 per cent) say the EU is the most potentially lucrative global region, while just three per cent say the same of North America.

These findings are drawn from a report by business qualifications body, the Association of Business Executives (ABE), that reveal the attitudes of 12 000 of its African business students towards entrepreneurship. The largest number of responses was from Malawi followed by (in order) Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Mauritius, Botswana, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia and all other 17 countries in Africa where ABE has students. The report has inspired ABE’s new Entrepreneurship Diploma, which also launched in Africa recently.

After the EU, East Asia was voted the most potentially profitable region by 24 per cent of African entrepreneurs, even though companies from that region are heavily investing in Africa. Africa itself trailed in third place, as only 18 per cent of entrepreneurs consider that trade within the continent offers the most potential for profit, regardless of the recent growth in Africa’s economies.

Of its African businesses students surveyed, ABE — which provides a range of business management qualifications to more than 50 000 students worldwide every year — found that 95 per cent plan to start a business. Two thirds plan to start their business within the next five years, and one in seven will do so within the next 12 months. However, more than two fifths of students surveyed also said that education must improve to support current economic growth, with one in five feeling that governments should introduce new policies to improve education to support the growth of new businesses.

Here are some other highlights from the report.

  • A mere one per cent of respondents see more foreign aid as the primary answer to the African jobs crisis highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Almost half (47 per cent) of African business students said that to create jobs, Africa must focus on improving support for entrepreneurs. The second most important need was for education systems that were geared to skills that match available jobs.
  • Bill Gates is by far the business person most admired by African entrepreneurs The Microsoft chairman attracted 37 per cent of the vote from budding entrepreneurs. Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs is second with 17 per cent. The highest rated African businessman — cement king Aliko Dangote — received 3 per cent of the vote.
  • Just 7 per cent of entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by wealth attainment. Their primary reasons were to prove personal ability or achievement (32 per cent) and the current lack of jobs (29 per cent), similarly reported in the recent OECD study into unemployment in Africa.
  • 74 per cent of respondents said that their government needs to introduce regulatory reform to the business environment to support the growth of their country’s economy. Next most important is improving education, with 43 per cent believing that this will support economic growth.
  • 68 per cent believe that an innovative and creative mind is the most vital attribute of an entrepreneur. Only 29 per cent believe that developing a network of contacts is the most important characteristic, challenging the continent’s reputation for its ‘contact culture’.

The full report also includes attitudes towards employment and employing others, setting up a business and the qualities required, barriers, sectors with the most potential, how long the economic boom will continue and what is needed to create jobs.

Kenyan College first to offer new Diploma in Entrepreneurship

ABE is improving the available education for entrepreneurially-minded Africans by launching its new Diploma in Entrepreneurship. Makini College in Nairobi, Kenya is the first accredited college in Africa to offer the qualification. The diploma is designed to enhance young Africans’ business understanding, focusing on identifying business opportunities, understanding customers, clarifying market demand, conducting market research and constructing a business plan.

Anne Kathambara-Omware, from Makini College in Kenya, said: “The Diploma in Entrepreneurship will help people who want to start their own business, but it will also help people to find jobs or obtain promotions as all organisations will gain from employing someone with an entrepreneurial outlook.”

Jonathan Swindell, Head of Business Development and Publishing for ABE, said: “ABE’s entrepreneurial African students are recognising their continent’s role on the international business stage, and the largest proportion of Africa’s future business leaders have their eyes firmly set on trade with the EU. The results of ABE’s survey clearly show the level of entrepreneurial enthusiasm across Africa, buoyed by African business students’ confidence in the continent’s recent economic success. More than half the entrepreneurs polled believe that Africa’s current boom will last at least another 10 years, and a third of those believe it will endure for 20 years or more.

However, much still needs to be done to support new African businesses and entrepreneurs. The OECD recently reported that 40 million African youths are currently unemployed — representing 60 per cent of Africa’s jobless. Africa boasts six of the world’s fastest growing economies, but — as many of the African entrepreneurs ABE questioned believe — greater emphasis must be placed on entrepreneurship education to sustain growth and create jobs. ABE’s new Diploma in Entrepreneurship will provide the skills and knowledge to match Africa’s entrepreneurial drive. This will enable budding entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into profitable businesses, and help to ensure that the next Bill Gates will be from Africa.”

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