Top five skills in 2018 that entrepreneurs are investing in

Featured image: Goumbik via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)
Featured image: Goumbik via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)

In a rapidly changing business landscape defined by both economic development and technological disruption, it has become crucial for entrepreneurs to continue to upskill themselves in order to keep pace and identify opportunities.

GetSmarter, a wholly-owned subsidiary of digital education company 2U, has released findings on the top five skills entrepreneurs are investing in based on trends in the emerging market.

Comparing the last two years, GetSmarter courses have attracted more business partners, business owners, founders, and entrepreneurs in the first half of 2018 alone than in the whole of 2017. This trend is likely caused by an increasing need for more business leaders to fill the gaps in the market and adapt to the growing disruption brought on by tech.

The impact of emerging tech is set to be significant in developing nations in which technology-driven change is driving economic growth. The adoption of technology is already reducing the national costs of production, establishing standards for quality, and connecting businesses to a global market through improved communication.

According to the GetSmarter course participation report, the top five skills entrepreneurs are seeking out in 2018 include:


As startups look to shorten lead times, save money, and build more transparent supply chains, so the use of blockchain technology is moving beyond the banking sector and into a host of new industries.

No matter which side of the bubble debate you’re on, there’s no doubting the implications of blockchain are far reaching, with the potential to change many existing facets of business.

In fact, blockchain technologies have been suggested as a new technological solution to many problems in developing countries. By restricting corruption, deception, and uncertainties, its applications address both financial inclusion and institutional weaknesses.

Property development and investment

As our third largest market, the opportunities surrounding property development and investment in South Africa are enormous.

With an estimated one million homes needed in the affordable housing sector, and only 25,000 units being made available each year, the demand for affordable housing in SA is massive. At the same time, South Africa’s growing urbanisation has led the UN to predict that 70% of people will be living in urban areas by 2030, presenting huge potential for property development entrepreneurs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is quickly being built into almost every facet of business and is helping entrepreneurs who know how to utilise it get a leg up.

As it becomes more accessible to small business owners, and more affordable through the use of existing smartphone technology, AI is making business more efficient.

Chatbots allow for businesses to communicate more with consumers and to automate the function. It also allows businesses to offer more customised content delivery that can be tailored to customers’ needs. By tailoring these functions and improving customer experiences, businesses are able to gain a competitive advantage.

Project management

As business interactions between and within organisations become increasingly more complex in a growing economy, the need to effectively manage available time and resources becomes vital. This, coupled with significant government investment in infrastructure and service, has significantly increased the demand for project management skills in South Africa across a wide variety of industries.

The SA Medium-Term Expenditure Framework has set aside R845-billion for public sector infrastructure projects. And with Africa’s market of middle-class consumers expected to soar to 1.1-billion by 2060 according to Deloitte, there will likely be a large increase in services and development projects, opening up the need for more specialised project management.


Over the past few years, there has been an uptick in the emergence of fintech startups, leading people to start moving away from traditional banking.

As fintech creates more opportunities for startups, it’s important for entrepreneurs to familiarise themselves with the technology. Africa has the highest ratio of unbanked people in the world, with nearly 80% of adults not having access to formal banking.

However, smartphone usage on the continent is increasing rapidly. This means that more people in Africa are opting for mobile banking as opposed to traditional banking, thus creating a great opportunity for fintech startups in Africa.

With traditional learning models often being inaccessible for busy, working entrepreneurs, an increasing number of business leaders are turning to personalised online courses to supplement their learning and stay ahead of the curve.

Sam Paddock, co-founder of GetSmarter says, “Online education has moved from being second-rate, and has moved to the belief that meaningful outcomes can be achieved. The online education business model for universities has become much clearer in their eyes, and online education is very much part and parcel in universities’ plans for the future. Technology has improved dramatically, and communicative technology overall as well.”

Over the next three months, read the skills profile articles to find out more in-depth insights into the demand amongst South Africa entrepreneurs and startups for these skills.

Featured image: Goumbik via Pixabay (CC0 Creative Commons)

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