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South Africans are positive about entrepreneurship, believe it can be taught


It’s not often that you hear news stories about South Africa being a good place to do business. After all, research released earlier this year by the Savannah Fund rated the country as the most expensive on the continent to start a tech company in. There is however one group that thinks South Africa is a good place to start a business in: ordinary South Africans.

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That’s according to the results the 2014 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER), an annual survey that takes the public pulse on the state of self-employment around the world.

With South Africa included for the first time, it’s interesting to see that South Africans think their country is more friendly toward entrepreneurship than

“The most surprising yet encouraging results of our recent study are that 77% of South African respondents have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship while 71% of them believe that entrepreneurship can be taught,” says Raj Parshotam, General Manager for Amway in Southern Africa.

“This entrepreneurial potential presents an opportunity for the development of South Africa’s economy. Government, businesses, and educational institutions should continue to join efforts to reduce structural obstacles and create a sound basis for everyone willing to start their own enterprise,” he says.

Read more: How can government support South Africa’s startup ecosystem?

Boris Urban, a Professor at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Wits Business School (WBS), Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of Witwatersrand, was commissioned as the local academic partner to contribute interpretation of the local AGER results.

According to Professor Urban, an interesting finding is that South African respondents think that entrepreneurship education should be taught at schools and secondary education establishments as well as at start-up programs provided by companies and NGOs. Very few (15%) respondents think that individuals should learn on their own when it comes to entrepreneurship education.

“Overall in South Africa entrepreneurial potential is high and there are positive attitudes towards entrepreneurial activity. More university graduates (65%) are starting their own businesses where leadership and management skills are perceived to be crucial for entrepreneurship education. Additionally, university graduates are more positive than respondents without a degree in terms of self-employment as well the entrepreneurship-friendliness of society,” he says.

Read more: On SA startups going global: 7 case studies you can learn from

Parshotam adds that policy makers should therefore work with education establishments to facilitate entrepreneurship education throughout the curriculum at all ages and levels of attainment. He says that established and successful entrepreneurs may also function as role models for potential and new entrepreneurs.Through mentoring programmes and business networks, Parshotam believes that potential entrepreneurs and actual entrepreneurs may obtain crucial first-hand information especially during the start-up phase.

“This year’s report points to the younger generation’s optimism and their great potential. We must use this key insight to continue fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and create a culture that unleashes the capabilities of our younger people,” concludes Parshotam.

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