Business Acumen a Crucial Component for Growing Entrepreneurs

By Tashline Jooste, Chief Executive Officer of the Innovator Trust on 22 Jan 18

Business Acumen a Crucial Component for Growing Entrepreneurs

18 January 2018: Running a successful business, especially Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), can be extremely difficult, particularly during tough economic environments like the current prevailing conditions in South Africa.

Apart from the severe economic conditions, South Africa is also facing an unemployment issue, which could have serious repercussions for many generations to come. According to the latest data from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), the country recorded an unemployment rate of 27.7% in the second quarter of 2017.

However, the unemployment issue is far more serious than the above-mentioned data shows. When you take into account the unemployment rate among young South Africans under the age of 25, the country has a youth unemployment rate of 67.4%. This is a frightening statistic for our next generation.

This is where young entrepreneurs have an opportunity to flourish through innovative ideas - inherent in young minds today. With the emergence of the digital age, the ICT sector holds many opportunities for young entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication needed to make a success of their future SMMEs. 

Instilling Business Acumen in Young Entrepreneurs

Over the past couple of years, the Innovator Trust has successfully prepared young entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged communities to take on the ICT industry. However, we have found a common concern which has challenged many entrepreneurs from fulfilling their true potential - a lack of business acumen.

While there is no doubt that entrepreneurs, especially in the ICT industry, are highly skilled individuals who understand their product or service, they often lack the basic business skills needed to grow their small business.

By understanding the basics of business SMMEs will be able to grow into flourishing businesses further allowing entrepreneurs to employ more individuals. This will not only help to reduce the high unemployment rate, but will also help to further up-skill the employed individuals, ultimately uplifting the communities in which they operate.

The selected Vodacom Academy Graduates will embark on a journey with the Innovator Trust, supporting them in developing their business idea, business model and business plan while also focusing on other business development areas.

The successful graduates from YEP will then move on to the Innovator Trust’s Enterprise Development Programme for Entrepreneurs, which has been hugely successful since inception in 2014. To date, the Innovator Trust has successfully incubated over 50 SMMEs.

Innovation is Key to Ensuring Real-World Ready Entrepreneurs

To ensure the Incubation Programme for Entrepreneurs is effectively preparing our graduates to cope with the ever-changing landscape of doing businesses in South Africa, it is essential that we constantly innovate our curriculum.

Of all the beneficiaries who started our programme two years ago, 80% of those are about to start their final year in the programme. This shows a real determination from our beneficiaries to succeed. It can be easy for a person to either lose interest or ‘burn out’ during a programme, but we have taken great care in ensuring that his doesn’t happen.

Apart from the technological and businesses know-how needed, it is essential for entrepreneurs to have the right mentoring partnership to guide them through the process of doing business in South Africa. Through continued innovation and commitment, the Innovator Trust will continue being a key partner to SMMEs in the ICT sector.