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Advancing Entrepreneurship Education in Schools

Advancing Entrepreneurship Education in Schools

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 20, 2018

Five Nigerian School girls that represented Africa at the Innovation competition at Silicon Valley – Photo Credit: https://guardian.ng 

Entrepreneurs are undoubtedly the engine of any country’s economy. Yet they’re not born, but rather made by the contingencies of their environment, one which is characterised by the agents of socialisation and plays an impactful role in developing the next generation of start-ups.

The government, religious entities, local communities and, most importantly, family and especially schools are all collectively crucial to develop sustainable future entrepreneurs. They should help mould young, innovative minds into becoming valuable, contributory members of society by equipping them with the supportive knowledge, skills, resilience and confidence at the early stages of development, in order to start and grow a business.

With this is mind, entrepreneurship education is now becoming more and more important in the global economy. Many years ago, entrepreneurship education might not have been taken seriously, but there is no doubt that it has always existed in some form or another, often in a subtle way.

For example, in the 90’s when I was in high school, my parents gave me energy drinks, snacks and food. I liked a different type of snack that was sold in the school canteen and I recall selling my own snack to a classmate and using the money to buy what I wanted, rather than what my parents gave me. Unbeknown to me, I was educating myself on entrepreneurship. Today, in many schools, young people buy and sell various products with each other.

According to Erasmus, Loedoff, Mda and Nel (2006), entrepreneurship education is a structured formal conveyance of entrepreneurial competencies, which in turn refers to the concepts, skills and mental awareness used by individuals during the process of starting and developing their growth-orientated business ventures.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman advocates for inspiring young people to create the companies that will provide long-lasting employment for the country’s citizens. Because the jobs on which the 65 year-old Friedman’s own generation relied are no longer available, he advocates for having students graduate high school “innovation-ready”, meaning that along with their certificates, they receive the critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills that will help them invent their own careers. I believe his theory holds true for – and in, any country. Over the year, we have been a big advocate of entrepreneurial education, going to various township schools with some of our experts who apply the design thinking methodology in prompting a different kind of thinking amongst pupils.

The European Situation

With the European Commission’s Entrepreneurship initiatives, schools are becoming more and more responsible for developing what is both a mind-set and a skill. Erasmus+ projects play a part by making sure that educational staff are equipped with the knowledge, teaching materials and methodologies they need.

The Perspective Project has created Europe-wide models of entrepreneurship education so that teachers of all subjects can make it part of their teaching. Maria Brizi, the Coordinator of the Perspective Project, says that European funding has allowed them to introduce new approaches, promoting entrepreneurship as a set of skills, knowledge and attitudes that will support pupils to be creative, responsive and successful in whatever activity they undertake, regardless of their career choices.

The YES mobility project has allowed a Croatian school to develop a new programme for teaching entrepreneurship by developing the competences of its whole educational team, from the headmaster to the school librarian, including math, language or craft teachers.

The African Situation

As we know, our continent is home to a large number of young people and it simply doesn’t have jobs for them all, making youth unemployment a major concern. Some countries, like Nigeria and Kenya, are tackling this problem by equipping children with entrepreneurial skills while they’re still at school. These include essential foundational knowledge, such as emotional intelligence and risk taking; it also develops their appreciation for self-employment opportunities. This means that if they find themselves in a situation where they are unemployed, they don’t give up and succumb to self-pity. Instead, they are able to use their skills to create new opportunities as entrepreneurs.

South Africa is also playing its part. Addressing the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in 2017, then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, now President of South Africa, said that “There is much more we can do, entrepreneurship must be part of the school curriculum, so that young people must, from an early age, be encouraged to be problem solvers.” He added that the inclusion would also ensure that more job creators, rather than job seekers, were developed and that entrepreneurship would be seen as a viable career option. The Gauteng Department of Education through its MEC Panyaza Lesufi is also advocating the entrepreneurial mindset agenda in various Gauteng schools. I have also heard the Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu in various platforms where she advocates for entrepreneurial education in schools.

Recently, the Chartwell Leadership Primary school in South Africa, led by Principal Simon White, hosted a number of school teachers, learners and ecosystem stakeholders, which included the Department of Basic Education, the Director General of Small Business Development, as well as other champions of entrepreneurial education, such as Junior Achievement South Africa and Primestars. Held at the 22 on Sloane start-up campus, the two-day workshop focused on what the future skills force will look like and how do young school-goers gear themselves up for this exciting challenge. It was extremely impressive to witness many bright South Africa young minds presenting their various innovative ideas, proof that Africa remains bedrock of innovation.

Adding official testimony to the above, is the recent prestigious award received by five schoolgirls representing Africa and Nigeria at the World Technovation Challenge, held in Silicon Valley, USA, the global birthplace and home of innovation.

Amidst fierce competition from the USA, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China, the team, led by Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu, took the gold medal for their mobile app called the FD-Detector, which they developed to help tackle the challenge of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. Now known as “Africa’s Golden Girls”, the team comprises Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye.

The true value of entrepreneurship education is that it benefits students from all socio-economic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instils confidence and stimulates the economy. Sure, inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship won’t instantly wipe away youth unemployment. But it can reduce unemployment by giving young people the skills they need to create their own businesses and generate work for themselves or others outside the formal job market.

I believe that South Africa and Nigeria are powerfully poised to revolutionise and champion Africa’s entrepreneurial education agenda, alongside all their continental counterparts.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus

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IBM partners with 22 ON SLOANE to launch its entrepreneurship programme

IBM partners with 22 ON SLOANE to launch its entrepreneurship programme

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | AUGUST 13, 2018

Pictured Above: Ziaad Suleman – Chief Operations Officer IBM South Africa

Founded in 1911, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is an American multinational technology company headquartered in New York, USA and has operations in over 170 countries.

Affectionately known as “Big Blue”, IBM is a pioneering industry legend and manufactures and markets computer hardware, middleware, software and provides hosting and consulting services in areas ranging from mainframe computers to nanotechnology. The company also holds the record for most U.S. patents generated for 25 consecutive years. These include the ATM, the PC, the floppy disk, the hard disk drive and the magnetic stripe card, to name just a few.

IBM is one of 30 companies included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of the world’s largest employers, with some 380 000 staff members. Known as “IBMers”, they’ve been awarded five Nobel Prizes, six Turing Awards, ten National Medals of Technology and five National Medals of Science.

As a company that is undeniably one of the world’s frontrunners in the creation, development and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies, it gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to IBM as our entrepreneurial pilot programme partner, from all at the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa’s 22 on Sloane Start-up Campus.

At the launch of this exciting initiative, Ziaad Suleman, the Chief Operations Officer of IBM South Africa, wasted no time in encouraging and motivating the selected tech start-ups to embrace this once in a lifetime opportunity which will support their next level of growth and enable them to enter new markets and regions. As a technology leader, IBM helps boost capabilities in South Africa by developing local skills and providing access to cloud, analytics, and big data technologies to solve some of the country’s most complex problems and change lives.

IBM’s next era is all about the power of cognitive solutions delivered to transform industries. Cognitive systems augment human intelligence, allowing faster and more informed decisions. Through their Enterprise Development Programme (EDP), IBM selects aspirant entrepreneurs or start-ups in the ICT space with the base capability to be endowed with high-end solution/content execution capability, via a range of support mechanisms, such as incubation, finance, coaching, mentoring, access to markets and business processes.

Since the inception of EDP, IBM has provided entrepreneurs and small businesses with development support, growth investment and access to IBM products and technology aligned to the life stage of selected business in line with our continued commitment to drive development within the South African economy.

IBM has always been a proud African techno-economic partner and as part of their continued commitment to entrepreneurs and startups, the Digital – Nation Africa (D-NA) programme supports their focus on building digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in South Africa. Through D-NA, IBM is contributing to building a country of digital innovators by providing digital skills to South Africans through a free, Watson-powered skills platform. D-NA is designed to help raise overall digital literacy, increase the number of skilled developers and enable entrepreneurs to grow businesses around the new solutions. This accessible online learning environment delivered on the IBM Cloud, provides a vast range of enablement resources, ranging from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills including programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, as well as important business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

In 2015, IBM partnered with the City of Johannesburg and the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) to apply technologies to help the city deliver on its air quality management plan. In the same year, it announced a R700m investment over the next ten years, via a Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Equivalent programme. In 2016, the IBM Research Lab opened its doors in Johannesburg, partnering with entrepreneurs, developers and business to develop commercially-viable solutions that spark business opportunities. In 2019, it aims to launch its IX Digital Lab to drive transformation projects.

The entrepreneurs selected for the GEN/IBM programme will join a cohort of around 67 of their peers selected last year to be part of GEN’s 22 on Sloane residency programme. The newcomers will enjoy access to a dedicated workspace and technical support from the GEN/IBM teams, which include experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, scientists, managers, CEOs and funders, as well as access to all other facilities at 22 on Sloane, such as meeting rooms, branding services, the gym and many more.

More about GEN Africa’s 22 on Sloane Start-up Campus

GEN Africa is a subsidiary of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), which operates in 173 countries. By fostering deeper cross-border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create more jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth. Today, GEN Africa has bases in 42 African countries.

GEN Africa’s 22 on SLOANE is the largest, and arguably the most innovative, start-up campus on the continent. It offers start-ups and SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mind-set, ensure business sustainability, explore the development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of GEN Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus

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  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
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  • 1133 15th St, NW
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© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

Re-skilling for the Future: GirlCode Hackathon at 22 Sloane

Reskilling for the Future: GirlCode Hackathon at 22 Sloane

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | 7 AUGUST, 2018

Last week, the quarterly labour force survey, conducted by Statistics SA, revealed that the unemployment rate rose to 27.2% in the second quarter, from 26.7% in the first three months of this year. This equates to 6.1 million people without jobs in the three months till the end of June, compared to 6 million in the previous quarter, with the manufacturing sector being the main contributor to job losses.

If we add discouraged job seekers, the expanded unemployment rate rose by 0.5% to 37.2% of the working age population, or some 9.6 million people. The number of people between the ages of 15 and 34 that are not undergoing education or training, or are not employed, increased by 0.4% year-on-year to reach 39.3%, or four people out of ten. At 33.6%, the unemployment rate for young people aged between 25 and 34 is more than double that of the 45 to 54 year-old category, which stands at 16%. This basically means that over 5 million young people are unemployed in South Africa.

The Problems

I have identified five potential causal effects of why many young people are unemployed.

  1. Unable to settle for less: The dynamics of the world today have changed drastically. Social media is now the BFF of the youth, as they constantly share, explore and ultimately discover how some of their successful peers are living and they want that too – and immediately. Now school graduates often scoff at an entry intern job that could pay around R5000pm. They believe they should earn higher and ‘live larger’, with expensive apartments, cars and smartphones. This scenario is the antithesis of the lives their parents lived – with a steady job, working their way to the top. I cast my mind back to my first job in 2007 as a shoe-shiner, earning R1500 (USD$150) per month at a hotel. Today’s youth probably wouldn’t be seen dead doing that…
  2. Mismatch between available jobs and skills: There is a significant mismatch between the skills obtained by young people and the available jobs that suit those skills. The youth want the easy way in. For example, they study public relations or marketing, etc. and are unaware that the real world of work needs different skill-sets. Our youth should research courses with the best probability of job opportunity, while our education system should gear-up and re-channel resources to focus on key skills that the global and local economy need.
  3. Lack of targeted entrepreneurial programmes: Most entrepreneurial programmes still focus on teaching business basics, such as taxation, finance, and marketing. Yes, this is crucial for business success, but should go hand-in-hand with developing critical skills and scaling for young people. Focus should also be on technical expertise. 
  4. Lack of entrepreneurial financial risk appetite: Most funding agencies claim to have loads of seed cash to fund entrepreneurs, but the reality is different on the ground. Many quickly lose the risk appetite to invest in innovative start-ups, as they still require historical financials, which most of the start-ups cannot provide, severely limiting their capability to compete in the market.
  5. Lack of big business commitment: Any big business feels threatened by the rise of start-ups in their industry, so they will try to avoid creating a competitor for the future. They’ll probably pay lip service that they support start-ups, but ultimately will do everything in their power to limit the threat of a competitive start-up.

The Solution

Every year during August, which is Women’s Month, GirlCode invites all female programmers to enter the GirlCode Hackathon which takes place at 22 on Sloane, a 48-hour non-stop programming challenge. The hackathon is open to all females who would like to work collaboratively to create a website, game, or mobile app that addresses a selected real-world challenge.

This past weekend, GirlCode hosted over 200 girls aged between 18 and 35 for the hackathon. At most of the hackathons, the main incentives are small cash prizes and bragging rights. GirlCode believes that women would be more drawn to an altruistic goal: projects that will make a difference to society as a whole, so the hackathon is not run as a competition, but rather a collaborative learning experience, where everyone walks away with new knowledge and starter-kits to help them continue their journey in exploring the tech space.

Staying with tech, the key question is what skills are needed for the future of South Africa? How can we better support start-ups to scale? How can big business and government support start-ups?

There are critical skills needed in the job market today and it’s even easier to launch a start-up with a good client pipeline. Let’s take a look at what’s out there tech-wise and the basic remuneration that goes with it.

App development is worth over $77billion globally with an average entry-level pay of R231 000 per annum;

Network security is worth $165billion globally with an average entry-level pay of R373 375 per annum;

Data science is worth over $125billion with an average level entry pay of R395 207 per annum;

Digital marketing is worth over $135billion with an average entry-level pay of R299 427 per annum;

Games development is worth over $108billion with an average entry-level pay of R400 000 per annum;

Hadoop is worth over $80billion with an average entry-level pay of R500 000 per annum;

Robotics is worth over $135billion with an average entry-level pay of R300 000 per annum;

Internet of Things is worth over $160billion with an average entry-level pay of R272 000 per annum.

Positioning for the future remains critical and I believe that re-strategizing the education systems, reskilling and upskilling for the future and supporting and scaling our young people’s start-ups are paramount to empower South Africa’s youth.

At 22 on Sloane, we’re always on the lookout for like-minded partners and startups that will help turn these dreams into reality, build our economy and ensure that Africans continue to rise and achieve the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, of obviating the environment where young Africans come up with great, sound ideas, but go no further.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa; 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.

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  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
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    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Email: residency@22onsloane.co

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  • 1133 15th St, NW
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© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

Local fashion steals (some of) the show at BRICS.

Local fashion steals (some of) the show at BRICS.

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JULY 30, 2018

Anyone who followed the three-day BRICS summit in Joburg will undoubtedly agree that it was totally overshadowed by the fierce trade war, instigated by the US President Donald Trump, as world leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China gathered in South Africa, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa. They had one mission in mind – how do we increase cooperation, facilitate economic transformation and become a global force?

In my opinion, the rise in status and stature of BRICS is something to definitely keep an eye on. Since its formation in 2009, it has been a force to be reckoned with. My first participation at the BRICS summit was during 2013 in Durban. Since then, the organization, has shaped the direction of the world’s economy with its formation of the BRICS Development Bank in 2014, now called the New Development Bank, which has facilitated over USD6billion worth of projects. It has also established the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which is a framework for the provision of support through liquidity and precautionary instruments in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.

The objective of this reserve is to provide protection against global liquidity pressures and is seen as a competitor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2016, a BRICS financial services working group was established to help with determining the viability of establishing the BRICS credit ratings agency. Experts believe that it’s now close to reality and a formation agreement is temporarily on hold, pending further engagement with member countries.

The 10th BRICS summit was not only about big money and striking mutually-beneficial trade deals, it also offered delegates the opportunity to engage with start-ups and attend a fashion show.

22 on Sloane, Africa’s largest and arguably one of the world’s most innovative start-up campuses was honoured to host the BRICS fashion show, which was championed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The fashion show, produced by the renowned Carol Bouwer, saw fashionistas such as Rubicon and David Tlale to name a few, embrace the opportunity for models to grace the catwalk parading their creations in front of the BRICS delegates. Dr Precious Motsepe, Founder of African Fashion International (AFI), was among other dignitaries, which included the British High Commissioner and other prominent ministers, who attended the occasion.

Now it’s a known fact that start-ups have a huge economic role to play in various countries. With this in mind, I would really like to see BRICS use its platforms and resources to look at ways to partner with various high-impact start-ups, specifically in the technology space, which cuts across all industries, whether it’s manufacturing, agro-processing, mining, health, energy, transport, education, fashion and numerous others.

Some of the BRICS countries seem to be leading in various investment deals in the global startup platform. Proof of the pudding is in the various lucrative deals that have already been made in the last year alone, such as India’s Ola, which is a ride-sharing start-up company that raised USD1billion in investments and the Chinese Sense Time company, which rose over USD1.2billion just this year. South Africa is also perfectly positioned strategically to put its weight behind facilitating similar deals for its high-impact start-ups, via the New Development Bank or various other VC’s and funding agencies.

I believe BRICS is here to stay and will help transform the economic landscape of the world for the better in the very near future. Today, BRICS countries control 22-23% of the global GDP, worth a staggering USD40trillion-plus. And, with its involvement with various other developing countries, such as Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Madagascar, Botswana, Turkey, Jamaica, Argentina and many others that attended this year’s summit, the BRICS bloc is now a true financial force to be reckoned with.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chair of Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa, 22 on Sloane which is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
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  • 1133 15th St, NW
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© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

Kingmakers – The global capture of Africa’s high-impact start-ups

Kingmakers – The global capture of Africa’s high-impact start-ups

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JULY 24, 2018

Modern globalization makes it difficult for anyone innovative to succeed without collaborating and cooperating with various ecosystem stakeholders. Capital resource is now the new weapon for kingmakers in the booming and lucrative technology space. European, American and Asian counterparts have grasped this quickly and have amassed vast capital resources, which makes the playing field uneven and gives them a great leading edge to invest in and scale new opportunities.

As we know, today’s world operates without boundaries and technology is a key culprit in making it even more challenging to keep the borders closed. Gone are the days when inventions or innovations are kept for consumption by a local community or country.

Now, it takes just a mouse click for these to go global, because any innovation, anywhere presents lucrative opportunities, which in turn instantly attract institutions, investors and countries – primed and ready to jump right in to ensure that they play a role in bringing it to market or to ensure that their organisation does not get swept aside by the wave length of the innovation or invention.

Africa is still on the back foot of these funded developments and most funders on the continent do not have the foresight to identify and act on opportunities quicker than their counterparts in America or Europe. It is a fact that most big deals that were struck were led by investors from Asia, America or Europe. US-based Insight Venture Partners has raised $6.3 billion for its latest technology fund. Softbank, a Japanese firm, has also amassed a $100 billion-plus vision fund for tech companies. The Softbank fund is also seeking to invest over $1 billion on a China AI start- up firm – Sense Time Group.

The world is also fast realising that African start-ups are a pivotal part of the economic future. A recent report published by Africa Tech start-ups funding report claims that in 2017, African start-ups raised over US$159 million with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya leading the pack. I believe this figure is an underestimation, given that most deals conducted by investors and start-ups on the continent are not recorded.

It is widely believed that the actual recorded deals for this year alone are worth over US$170 million. With these deals in mind, a new report suggests that many Silicon Valley investors are now eyeing Africa as the next tech frontier. Recently, the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osibanjo visited Silicon Valley to meet with various US tech investors, for what he is hoping will bring a tech revolution and investment into the country. Google also announced that it will open its first AI lab on the continent in Ghana.

I wrote an article a little while back on start-up visas, highlighting just how many countries in Europe, America and Asia are offering them to African start-ups to reside and work in their countries. On top of that, they dangle lucrative incentives, as much as €40 000-50 000 each. There is also a noticeable upsurge in international institutions launching various entrepreneurship and start-up programmes to lure young trailblazers and high impact start-ups to join them. I highlighted this on my previous piece titled, “Africans on the outside”.

Yes, this current entrepreneurial environment is exciting and does present an array of opportunities, but it can also pose a threat to the economic solidarity of the continent. I’ve highlighted a few threats and how various African governments and institutions can curb these:

  1. Data Threat: As these innovations develop, Africans were exposed to abuse where there are no checks and balances on the protection of information. For example, post the exposure of Facebook’s data threat, America and the European Union summoned the Facebook CEO to account for this. In Africa, this was ignored because I assume that there is no system to even establish whether there was exposure to us or not.
  2. Invention Threat: Many young high-impact start-ups that are offered an overseas programme either receive positive engagement with viable, mutually beneficial partnerships or their innovation gets taken by these organizations, investors or NGOs.
  3. Solidify our System: The African Union, African Development Bank, various African governments and DFIs, from South Africa to Nigeria to Kenya and Egypt, should solidify their systems and work on creating environments that are conducive for start-ups to thrive, which includes mentoring and funding. Without these funds, African start-ups are prone to quickly enlist with investors. Speaking at the annual Mandela lecture in Eastern Cape, Professor Lumumba mentioned the economic colonization of African countries, for example, although a country produces cocoa, it does not produce chocolate, or it mines gold but does not manufacture jewelry. I believe the next colonization could be in the form of African start-ups selling their initiatives and registering their IP in other countries and we’ll end up procuring or using these same services/products from these countries. This is a new form of colonization, but who are we to blame these benevolent countries or organizations? I believe our role should be ensuring that, from the get-go, our local systems are built to fully support each and every start-up and not to whine about the possible ‘theft’ of our idea. Also of critical importance, is to ensure that various developmental institutions have the right people in the right place to accelerate and diligently manage and distribute funding to eligible start-ups.

At the recent annual Mandela lecture, President Obama mentioned how young people should continue to rise and become more ambitious. He added that many young start-ups are doing great things on the continent. What they need is more and more support to continue to thrive. He also spoke to young African leaders to drive change at home, rather than emigrating and encouraged African government to support its people. He said, “More and more not only are we seeing concentrations of wealth, we are seeing concentrations of talent in various global centres, whether it is Shanghai or Dubai……If we have African leaders, governments and institutions which are creating a platform for success and opportunity, then you will increasingly get more talent wanting to stay”.

Recently, many Africans celebrated France’s World Cup soccer victory as an African victory. A French journalist’s response was “if we gave the same team to an African country it would not even pass the first phase, the money for preparations would be diverted, the delegation filled with mistresses and parents for tourism, psychological preparers replaced by pastors, cooks and masseurs without experience, the doctor chosen by affinity with the politicians….”

African start-ups are the beacon of hope and globally, various institutions, investors and countries are now both acknowledging and appreciating this. It is now up to all our African governments and institutions to stand by them every step of the way, or else the neo-colonisation of ideas will make us retreat significantly to where we only consume and do not produce. We hope that one day African start-ups and investors will be kingmakers.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of GEN Africa, 22 on Sloane which is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
    Bryanston, 2191
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Email: residency@22onsloane.co

GEN GLOBAL

  • 1133 15th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20005
    United States of America

© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

Nelson Mandela’s 100 life and leadership lessons for startups

Nelson Mandela’s 100 life and leadership lessons for startups

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JULY 17, 2018

He is a legend, a father and icon of this and many generations to come. I have compiled from various books and authors, one hundred quotes and snippets to help live what we’ve learned from Nelson Mandela in life and leadership in celebration of his 100 year anniversary.

  1. Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
  2. Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.
  3. Remain true to your principles.
  4. All people are equal and therefore deserving of basic respect and dignity.
  5. Forgiveness makes us stronger and happier people overall.
  6. Embrace diversity in all spheres of society, including the workplace.
  7. Leaders must take accountability for their actions in both the private and public sectors.
  8. Have the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances and environments.
  9. While it is difficult to change society, it is even more difficult to change yourself, which is vital to become better at what you do.
  10. Learn and grow as an individual in times of conflict and tough experiences.
  11. It takes people of integrity to build ethical organisational cultures and ultimately create an ethical society.
  12. Life is about building good relationships at the individual and collective level.
  13. You pass through this world once and opportunities you miss will never be available to you again.
  14. Show your leadership during moments of suffering and opportunity.
  15. The human soul and human body have an infinite capacity of adaptation and it is amazing just how hardened one can come to be.
  16. Prove them wrong.
  17. Use your time wisely.
  18. If wealth is a magnet, then poverty is a kind of repellent. Yet poverty often brings out the true generosity in others.
  19. Be humble.
  20. Have heroes.
  21. Take a stand.
  22. Manage your emotions.
  23. Speak with conviction.
  24. Leadership is as much about delivering results as it is about uplifting those who worked and strove with me.
  25. The habit of attending to small things and of appreciating small courtesies is one of the important marks of a good person.
  26. Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.
  27. It always seems impossible until it is done.
  28. If there are dreams of a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to that goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.
  29. Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.
  30. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  31. I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.
  32. A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.
  33. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it
  34. Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.
  35. The things that are truly worth having in life are usually the hardest to come by. It’s the people who persevere and push through the difficulties who ultimately accomplish what they set out to achieve.
  36. Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
  37. A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.
  38. it’s time for the dawning of a new age — one in which people remember that the same frame of bones lies underneath every person’s skin, no matter the colour.
  39. A good leader can engage in debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger.
  40. It is better to lead from behind and put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.
  41. There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.
  42. Have faith in justice.
  43. Courage will triumph over fear.
  44. With hard work comes progress.
  45. Take pride in your convictions.
  46. Show compassion to everyone.
  47. Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves try to plan every detail of our lives and actions.
  48. One of the things I learnt when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.
  49. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.
  50. If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
  51. When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.
  52. Demand respect.
  53. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
  54. If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.
  55. One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.
  56. It is not the kings and generals that makes history but the masses of people.
  57. It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.
  58. I have a special attachment to the people who befriended me during times of distress.
  59. I am not a saint, unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps trying.
  60. When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive.
  61. The colour of my skin is beautiful, like the soil of Mother Africa.
  62. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.
  63. We must strive to be moved by a generosity of spirit that will enable us to outgrow the hatred and conflicts of the past.
  64. We must all strive to be inspired by a deep-seated love of our country, without regard to race, colour, gender or station in life.
  65. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.
  66. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
  67. You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.
  68. A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.
  69. We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.
  70. A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.
  71. Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
  72. Money won’t create success. The freedom to make it will.
  73. Of course we desire education and we think it is a good thing, but you don’t have to have education in order to know that you want certain fundamental rights, you have got aspirations, you have got claims.
  74. History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.
  75. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine.
  76. I am the product of Africa and her long-cherished view of rebirth that can now be realised so that all of her children may play in the sun.
  77. There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
  78. The children who sleep in the streets, reduced to begging to make a living, are testimony to an unfinished job.
  79. It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on Earth, irrespective of the consequences.
  80. Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.
  81. It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my people became a hunger for the freedom of all people.
  82. To be an African in South Africa means that one is politicized from the moment of one’s birth, whether one acknowledges it or not.
  83. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
  84. The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
  85. The only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla means pulling the branch of a tree.
  86. I could not imagine that the future I was walking toward could compare in any way to the past that I was leaving behind.
  87. To be a father of a nation is a great honour, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy. But it was a joy I had far too little of.
  88. We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom.
  89. I have spent all my life dreaming of a golden age in which all problems will be solved and our wildest hopes fulfilled.
  90. When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.
  91. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
  92. I shall neither impose my own customs on others nor follow any practice which will offend my comrades.
  93. Until I was jailed, I never fully appreciated the capacity of memory, the endless string of information the head can carry.
  94. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.
  95. Greed and power have turned brother against brother.
  96. For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
  97. I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say.
  98. Our people have the right to hope, the right to a future, the right to life itself.
  99. What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.
  100. Men and women, all over the world, right down the centuries, come and go. Some leave nothing behind. Not even their names.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane. 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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Urban Grown – How committed are our start-ups?

How committed are our start-ups?

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JULY 10, 2018

Pictured Above: Simba Chimhandamba

Entrepreneurship is not an easy road, it never has been and never will be. The risk and reward factor is often skewed largely towards risk, making aspirant entrepreneurs deeming it too challenging, according to their vision, lifestyle, wants and needs.
With the constantly rising unemployment rate in South Africa, especially amongst the youth, many are questioning whether various entrepreneurship programmes and support activities within the ecosystem actually add value in producing and scaling high impact start-ups. As an entrepreneur myself, I believe they do. The proof is always in the pudding and my question is “just how committed are our start-ups?” How committed are they to push and realise their dream by continually knocking on doors (when one closes another may open!), be it for support, funding, partnership or even consolidation?

Entrepreneurship is a two-way street and it’s so easy to blame government agencies. But how has your large corporate, your accelerator or your incubator helped to change the entrepreneurial landscape for the better?
A few years ago, Nonhlanhla Mokoena and her husband Simba Chimhandamba started an agricultural and agro processing business called Urban Grown. Their vision was to change the age-old belief that farming is done by old people in rural villages. Yet their farming techniques can easily be adopted in urban areas, as their produce is farmed hydroponically. Their tunnels allow them to farm enough produce to make the business sustainable by being in close proximity to the city.

Hydroponics farming is the practice of growing plants in water using a non-soil based substrate, such as coco-peat or perlite. Coco-peat is derived from recycled coconut husks and can retain 11 times more water than soil.

The beauty of hydroponic farming is that it benefits both the environment and the consumer. Hydroponics uses 95% less water than conventional farming and fewer pesticides, as there are far fewer diseases associated with hydroponic farming. What’s more, farmers are able to grow crops throughout the year, all the time generating income. For the consumer, they have direct access to quality nutritious produce all year round, grown and supplied in the city.

Recently, the pair acquired a few hectare plots of land on which they expanded their farming activities. Currently, they produce baby marrow, lettuce and other crops, supplying large retail chains, such as Pick ‘n Pay, City Lodge hotels, Bidvest and many more.

I met Simba a while back before he started his business and he shared his vision with me. I too, am not a big fan of agriculture, as I also associate the practice with old people in villages, yet as an entrepreneur, I did encourage him to go for it, if it was his passion. He has proven us all wrong and that it can be done. Today, he and his wife run a multimillion-rand business that employs around dozens of people.

Pictured Above: Nonhlanhla Mokoena

A few years ago, he participated in one of the Global Entrepreneurship Network competitions during the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Week and won prize money, which also assisted him to scale his company, thanks to Absa bank, a loyal strategic sponsor of the Global Entrepreneurship Week in South Africa. Their company was also one of the top ten start-ups that were featured at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, held in Johannesburg last year, which saw over 173 nations and 8000 people descend on the city.

I must reiterate that starting any business is not easy and to do so, one needs a multi-stakeholder approach. Sometimes one accelerator or incubator might not have all the resources to start and scale, but the key aspect is how committed are the start-ups to keep pushing and keep getting help as little as possible from the ecosystem.

To start Urban Grown, they needed to rent a space that is conducive for their business vision, which they did from Riversands incubator at a subsidized rate, due to the Gauteng Government’s partnership with the hub. Last year, Simba was accepted into the Endeavor Entrepreneurship Programme and their business is still growing, further proof that by staying committed to the process, you’ll reap the fruit of your labour.

Over the past month, I took the time to meet each of the 70 resident start-ups face to face at 22 On Sloane. They really inspired me and fuelled the hope that we can definitely achieve the jobs target set by President Ramaphosa in his budget speech. I believe that Africa is the next big thing and that our start-ups have a much better chance of making it and succeeding than ever before.

Many of the start-ups are passionate and visionary and I see most of them soon becoming a success, like Simba and Nonhlanhla.
In this light, we are also getting a lot closer to achieving the Africa Union Agenda 2063, which states in its entrepreneurship vision that “we would like to remove the syndrome of Africans always coming up with great ideas, but with no significant achievement”.
Our mutual vision should be to fully support African startups in every way possible and help connect them with credible, visionary and like-minded stakeholders within the ecosystem to enhance their sustainable growth.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of GEN Africa 22 on Sloane. 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus

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Is there a future for start-ups after 2030?

Is there a future for start-ups after 2030?

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JUNE 27, 2018

As we all know, start-ups have always existed, as documented by a recent CNN report on the historical brands that are now celebrating their 100 year existence, which includes household names like Tabasco sauce and Nikon. Over the past few years, start-ups across the world have also been making a significant impact by contributing to both their local economy and the global economy. Yet, these were prominently propelled by the rise of organisations such as Facebook, Stripe, Uber, Mpesa and various others.

The question now is whether start-ups can continue to exist in the future, or whether we will see a different kind of start-up. Also, what led to these start-ups becoming so prominent, so quickly? One thing we’ve learnt is that it’s mainly because large corporations lacked innovation, or even the desire to innovate, rather choosing the safe and rigid path ‘more’ travelled. Imagine if Kodak innovated to be the next Instagram? Imagine if General Motors or some of the yellow cabs companies became the next Uber? Imagine if Sun International hotel group became the next Airbnb?

In my opinion, start-ups as independent companies will cease to exist in the near future. This is due to the fact that currently, large corporations are quickly realising that they have to keep up and innovate to ensure they meet the needs of their innovation-embracing customers. So now they’re starting to work closely with start-ups that align with their customer-centric business visions. This means partnering with start-ups, either through a trade exchange where the corporation offers to train and upskill them but ends up taking their initiatives or buying equity in the business. Some corporations also just choose to employ the founder of the start-up full-time, by dangling a juicy and lucrative corporate carrot in front of them.

new report from the Brookings Institution finds that in nearly every industry, from agriculture to finance, the share of new companies is falling.

So what’s going on?

Dan Kopf in his latest piece analysed this as…

One possibility: Start-ups are struggling in this era of rising market concentration. In most industries, since the 1980s, the share of all sales going to the top firms is increasing. Start-ups may have a hard time competing with these mega firms, which can out-pay them for the best talent and sometimes attempt to drive them out of the industry.

Another related possibility that Dan mentioned was that the most-educated American workers are no longer attracted to entrepreneurship. In 1992, 4% of 25-54-year-olds with a master’s degree or PhD owned a small company with at least 10 employees. In 2017, this was true of only 2.2%. Companies started by the highly educated are often unusually productive.

The Brookings report suggests that high salaries for educated employees at big companies have made entrepreneurship less compelling. Why compete with Google or Walmart when they are offering you an enormous amount of money to come work for them? He wrote.

According to Joseph Flaherty, three prominent tech thinkers recently declared the end of the start-up era, questioned the future of tech innovation generally and heralded the rise of the “Frightful Five”, being Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, who will dominate the future of tech. All of the posts make credible arguments, but they ignore how consolidation could be good, even great, for start-ups.

If we define start-up success as building cornerstone companies that will go down in history and be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, we may, in fact, be entering a lean period. If we define success as building an ever wider assortment of products, shipping them to tens of millions of users and earning hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars in short time frames, the good times may just be getting started.

Just look at the case of tbh, an anonymous social media app available in all 50 US states designed for high school students. Reports suggest that Facebook likely paid $80 million for the seed-funded, one-year-old company. Each founder probably made close to $15 million for a year of work, making them better paid than All-Star NBA Champion Stephen Curry. Entrepreneurs may have to settle for acquiring mere generational wealth, rather than becoming ‘pledge to cure all diseases’ wealthy, but the death of start-ups has been greatly exaggerated.

The kind of industry consolidation we see with the “Frightful Five” isn’t new to tech, it’s the norm in most industries and can actually spur innovation. The pharmaceutical and packaged food industries are heavily consolidated, have thriving start-up scenes, are hyperactive in M&A and provide a glimpse of how the future of tech may unfold.

So where does this leave African, or more specifically South African start-ups? Your guess is as good as mine.

In 2030, it will become easier to launch a business-to-customer startup because the next generation — unlike its predecessors won’t be shy about the risk/reward aspect of trying new products. Once a brand or company becomes established, however, it might be ditched for the new “new thing.”

In conclusion, the death of traditional ‘permanent stand-alone’ start-ups may be looming in some sense, but I feel there are endless possibilities and avenues for start-ups to fully exploit their innovative talents and realise prosperity, both personally and for their local economies.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of GEN Africa 22 on Sloane. 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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Africans On The Outside

Africans On The Outside

Looking at the social and economic impact of migrating entrepreneurs

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JUNE 12, 2018

In 2016, we conducted a study interviewing entrepreneurial African diasporas living and working in the UK and the US.

We found that migration for entrepreneurial purposes could obviously present an opportunity, but can also present numerous challenges. Visionaries and innovative entrepreneurs are present in all communities, yet not all communities adapt quickly to the disruptive changes they provoke. This prompts entrepreneurs, professionals and innovators to either challenge the resistant nature of disruptive innovation, pursue rent-seeking opportunities or migrate to an environment that is more welcoming and embracing of economic creativity and innovation.

In Africa, very limited data and research is available on entrepreneurial migration patterns. The research studies that have been conducted did contribute to shaping the literature on entrepreneurship activity across the continent. Yet, they focus mainly on aspects such as the growing informal sector, entrepreneurship as a survivalist activity, the barriers which entrepreneurs face and the nature of the entrepreneurial activity. Very few demonstrate the entrepreneurial activities of Africans living in other parts of the world.

The highest number of African migrants residing in the US and UK are Nigerians, followed by Kenyans, Zimbabweans and South Africans. Noting the aforementioned migration trend, an exploratory study was conducted to determine some of the socio-economic factors that induce Africans to migrate to these countries.

Although the sample of the study conducted only reflected input from second-generation migrants, who are mostly educated with postgraduate qualifications and with a professional background in the finance and technology sectors, it still gives us a glimpse of the entrepreneurship migration landscape on the continent.

In an article two years ago, Njeri Kimani, the leader of the Africa Capacity Building Foundation also highlighted that there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of highly-skilled Zimbabweans in the diaspora. Their departure is Zimbabwe’s loss, and the rest of the world’s gain. If Zimbabwe is ever going to turn itself around, it will have to somehow start convincing these talented people to stay. In 2011, over 1 000 medical graduates who were born or trained in Africa, migrated and were registered to practice in the USA alone.

Many African start-ups also take part in various competitions, which promise to develop them in world-class accelerators and hubs around the globe. Although these are opportunities, they present hidden challenges, as most of them end up losing their product’s IP, get convinced into selling their prototype for a song or their initiatives gets ‘stolen’ by the accelerators or hubs in the host countries.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates that there are 300 000 African professionals residing outside Africa, with 20 000 more leaving the continent every year. Meanwhile, Africa must employ some 150 000 expatriate professionals at a staggering cost, estimated at around US$4 billion per year.
When it comes to the adverse impact on revenue, our study estimated that in 2016, the African continent lost close to US$652 billion per year, due to African entrepreneurs and professionals operating outside the continent. In 2050, it is estimated that the continent can expect to lose an estimated US$1.5 trillion.

How can we fix this?

  1. Infrastructure development is a key driver for growth. To create an inclusive economy, Africa needs to ensure that it invests in its infrastructure to accelerate growth and development. Basic services such as roads, water, electricity, telecommunications (most importantly access to affordable data, specifically in South Africa) and reliable public transport systems are all needed to ensure that economic growth is stimulated.
  2. Focusing on product need is very important. African governments need to focus on what is being consumed, who consumes it and where does it come from? Only then can we open up a wealth of opportunities for various start-ups to tap into. Even the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement signed by dozens of African Presidents earlier this year should follow the product concept.
  3. Equipping our youth with education is critical, but not just generic by nature. We must ensure that the skills taught match the opportunities available on the market.
  4. Responsible leadership will ensure that various African leaders put the interest of their people first, by doing all they can to empower them.
  5. Build and sustain a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that will support the development of start-ups across the entire continent. At the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa, we will continue working with various stakeholders in building and sustaining our ecosystem.
  6. Explore and open up more opportunities for start-ups and create market pipelines for them

On the flip side, migration doesn’t only offer cons, there are pros as well. Many African diaspora now leave their host country equipped with skills to advance economic development in their home country. An opportunity, given that the African diaspora entrepreneurship communities are a growing phenomenon that has been under-utilized within the African entrepreneurship communities. The communities will be at an advantage because their ethnic and social affiliations position them strategically in shaping cross-border trade and commerce activities within the African community.

Although most countries would much rather keep and empower their start-ups and entrepreneurs, we can’t lose sight of the fact that today, there are 215 million first-generation migrants around the world, representing 3% of the global population.

If migration continues to grow at the same rate as over the past 20 years, some analysts predict that there could 405 million international migrants by 2050. These trends illustrate that diaspora networks offer an enormous global reach and are potentially the new and pervasive tool of global development and entrepreneurship.

Finally, we need to strive to promote African startups, appreciate their talent and find ways to keep and commercialize their initiatives on the continent.

Kizito Okechukwu is the Co-Chair of GEN Africa 22 on Sloane and Executive Head of SEA Africa. 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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10 tips to help you begin your start-up business

10 Tips To Help You Begin Your Start-Up Business

GEN AFRICA | JUNE 11, 2018

Getting your start-up business off the ground, requires careful thought and planning. One of the greatest things that you can do is to get going on an action plan.

Many of us have a hundred ideas for a business that we somehow never end up starting or executing. For whatever reason, we get up close to the proverbial window of our dreams and feel overwhelmed and unable to proceed. The excuses that we give ourselves when it comes to our start-up business are many:

  • We are too tired
  • Too busy
  • Too scared
  • We have no money
  • No support structure

Yet in as much as we feed ourselves these excuses, we somehow know at the end of the day that we have cheated ourselves of our dreams. The time has come to put aside the excuses, the feelings of disenfranchisement and helplessness and ask yourself a critical question.

How badly do you want to achieve your dream?

If deep down in your soul you know that you will be unable to sleep another night without taking some action toward your start-up business idea, here are some tips to help you along the way.

Ask yourself why?

You over there reading this? Yes you! Why do you want to start your business? Do you want to enrich lives? Change the way in which people see the world? Simply sell products that earn a high profit margin? Part of the start-up journey is about being brutally honest with yourself about the motivations that you have about doing what you do.

Research

Take the moment to look at the market. Do the people that you wish to service have a need for the product that you wish to offer? Sometimes preparing for a start-up business might mean that you need to enrol in a management course in order to get you there. Research requires more than just finding out about your market though. You will also need to look at suppliers, products, understand the logistical requirements of a business and so much more.

Speak to people who are living your dream

Nothing helps better than speaking to people who can relate to your dreams and who are more importantly, living your dream. Find those people, speak with them. Get to know who they are and what makes them tick. Get their insights and gain an understanding of their hopes, victories and challenges, as this will inform your own journey.

Pay attention to the critics

No matter what you are doing in life, one thing is certain. There will always be critics and people who pick holes through what you are doing. Some of them are energy vampires and people who will drain you. Others if you pay careful attention, actually have valid and sound advice that can inform and shape what you are trying to build.

Don’t focus immediately on money

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t focus on money at all. However if the only reason that you are starting up a business initiative is because of money, you might want to rethink your motives. Focus first on providing value, fulfilling a need or a service and once people are able to see that you do this, they will willingly pay the prices that you pitch.

Mobilise a community on social media

Long before products are popular and take off, you will find that they have an extensive social media presence before that. In addition to that many start-up companies also engage in online and offline marketing events that serve as a visual showcase for their social media community pages.

Be willing to be wrong

So you are super excited that your start-up idea will be the next best thing since sliced bread. But you find that after you’ve put yourself out there, that your idea is not as well received as you expected. Don’t feel disheartened. Give yourself a pat on the back and go back to the drawing board. Your entrepreneurial spirit can be channeled into other avenues.

A strong follow-up game

The road to success is built with many bricks, rocks and craters. Many of these obstacles are not easy to overcome and require a lot of inner emotional resources to deal with. Part of dealing with these challenges and obstacles means that you need to have a strong follow up game. Find it in yourself to come back from adversity by engaging in dialogue, picking up difficult tasks, and not giving up hope in the things that you need to get done.

Study your competition

It doesn’t help to hit the start-up companies’ market blind. If your dream is to open up that cupcake shop, you need to know exactly who your competitors are. What their motivations are, what they are selling, which sectors of the market are yet untapped. This isn’t to say that you wish to steal their ideas, but to also understand how you can provide value in ways that your competitors have yet to offer. This will give you the edge.

Persevere

Many start-up founders at the helm of successful start-ups have endured unimaginable stresses and adversity in order to make it in this world. Although we may see the gloss of success once a start-up founder is successful, we can rest assured that perseverance is a quality that we all need to have if we need to succeed. The founders of the PayPal service actually first ran at a loss and gave away funds for new users to join their service at $10 each. This may have seemed like a huge loss, but the amount of traffic that they gained, more than made for this. Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann, also took intensive action to nurture his first following of 7,000 people to truly understand what they wanted from the site. A move that he feels is responsible for the popularity of his site.

Wherever you may be right now in your life in terms of your own personal development, know this. Your dreams and goals do matter and the start-up business that you want to create can and will materialise if you begin to move toward it. Have the courage to step out of your own way and move toward creating the business of your dreams.

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Could South Africa miss out on the potential of the demographic dividend for economic prosperity?

Could South Africa miss out on the potential of the demographic dividend for economic prosperity?

GEN AFRICA | JUNE 11, 2018

The youth population grew from 18.5 million to 19.6 million and according to Stats SA 2017 young people constituted 36.5 per cent of the total South African population.   This is often described as a demographic dividend that could potentially propel the economy and the country onto a new growth trajectory.

The concept of a demographic dividend is based on the link between a country’s demographic profile and its potential for an increase in economic growth. Typically, starting from a position of a high fertility rate and a relatively large young population, if there is a decline in the country’s fertility rate over time, there follows an increase in its working-age ratio, which is the population of working age (15–64 years) as a percentage of the total population.

An increase in the working-age ratio does not lead to a demographic dividend automatically. Rather, it presents an opportunity for higher economic growth which may be achieved in full or in part or not at all. For the demographic dividend to reach its full potential, favourable socioeconomic conditions are required. If socio-economic conditions are unfavourable, a demographic dividend could remain elusive.

South Africa is at a relatively advanced point within the demographic transition. The youngest cohorts within the working-age population are expected to stabilise in size and begin to contract. At the same time the number of older working-age people – who would comprise a large proportion of effective consumers – is expected to grow rapidly. The magnitude of South Africa’s demographic dividend is in line with that of other middle-income countries. But estimates of the first demographic dividend show that South Africa has passed through at least half of the period in which it is expected to be positive. It is now in the stage during which the magnitude of the dividend is falling.

To realise the benefit of the final phase of the demographic dividend, the South African economy needs to grow employment and improve the labour market prospects for younger working-age people. Greater employment will raise mean incomes, allowing South Africans to invest in education and save. These actions are crucial for achieving the second demographic dividend.  President Nelson Mandela reminds us that ‘significant progress is always possible if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms.  Preparing a master plan and applying it are totally different things.’ The NDP is a master plan and applying it requires a planning system and above all a detailed integrated plan underpinned by crucial statistical evidence.

The evidence confirms that inequality in consumption across age in South Africa is limiting the size of the demographic dividend. This suggests that weak sharing mechanisms in the country may have a negative impact on per capita income growth over time. In some sense, this provides support for the argument that inequality can act as a brake on economic growth.

The Significance of June 16, Youth Month

June is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa, paying tribute to the school pupils and ordinary citizens who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprisings in Soweto.  As we remember the bold actions taken by the youth of Soweto, against an oppressive education regime in a now 39-year old uprising, one wonders whether a similar protest is not warranted in the context of youth entrepreneurship.

It is critical for our youth to begin to understand that even at a young age they are key to the economy. They influence the buying habits of their parents, they are a target market for many companies, they do have the ability to earn income through entrepreneurship, they already understand negotiation skills, they can save for their future with the right knowledge and strategy, and they can develop a habit of giving back and practicing social responsibility.

We at 22 ON SLOANE continue to see that instilling positive values in the youth around finances, business and social responsibility builds strong character, confidence, furthers interest in the economy, and reinforces state testing requirements that are now demanding students to apply critical thinking and greater analytical skills.

We know that entrepreneurial skills are academically complimentary and beneficial for the youth, whether they wish to start a business venture or not. Having an entrepreneurial mindset has increasingly become valuable for individuals working in the competitive corporate world. It requires critical thinking skills and the ability to determine when to take necessary risks, as well as, it is grounded in creativity and innovation. Entrepreneurship is also a natural fit to enhance and compliment business education in advanced education because it integrates the core areas of business—accounting, finance, marketing, and management, as well as, the legal and economic environments in which any new venture operates.

GEN 22 ON SLOANE to celebrate Youth Day with 35 school pupils. We continue to empower young people and encourage their participation in the country’s socio-economic activities.

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  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
    Bryanston, 2191
    Johannesburg, South Africa
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© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

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5 key ingredients for long-term digital success

5 Key Ingredients For Long-Term Digital Success

GEN AFRICA | JUNE 11, 2018

The fourth industrial revolution continues to disrupt how businesses operate with creative, digital start-ups challenging established organisations. Traditional industries are being transformed by digital pioneers such as Airbnb.

Business leaders agree that digital transformation – the ongoing implementation of digital technologies in key industries – is essential to drive growth, optimise performance and remain competitive. One of the top digital business trends in 2018 is digital supremacy, which can only be achieved with the correct architectures and data structures.

While many have taken the digital plunge, organisational challenges often cause businesses to stagnate at different stages of digital transformation. With so many moving parts, businesses often don’t know where to start and how to keep going.

Here are five building blocks for long-term digital success:

Strong leadership

Digital transformation starts with a clear vision, a well-formulated digital strategy and strong leadership. Be clear on where you want to go, how digital transformation can get you there and what solutions fit into your business culture, daily operations and budget. Partner with experts if you need assistance with the planning stage.

Renewed thinking

The methodologies of the past production-oriented industrial economy are now outdated. Business leaders must rethink everything from organisational structures, processes and big data, to employee responsibilities, online security and overall business management. Keep up with trends and developments in automation, digitisation, analytics and algorithms to make swift strategic decisions and to implement insights on an ongoing basis.

Renovate the core

To embrace an ever-changing business model, organisations have to transform legacy architecture and modernise business operations. Take Nashua’s document management services as an example. This can range from the way data is organised, filed and stored, to increased document security on your network and devices. Integrated business solutions like managed document services can optimise business processes and workflows. This will enable you to respond proactively to changing customer needs and market conditions.

Employee mobility

Workforces are becoming increasingly mobile and many traditional careers will be redundant in the near future. Consider how automation can free up employees to refocus on innovation and more strategic tasks. Empower them to work from anywhere with instant access to data, applications and real-time knowledge sharing. Use multi-touch interactive whiteboards to easily analyse, modify and share information with employees regardless of the location.

Safety first

The digital space is fraught with cyber security risks. Make sure your offline and online security is up to date and fosters a culture of cyber vigilance with sufficient training, policies and procedures. This will ensure long-term digital sustainability. With intelligent software to manage printing devices and documents, you can maintain the integrity of critical business information.

Companies across the world are benefiting from a digital transformation. To secure long-term digital success without losing focus of your core business, you need to get the right building blocks in place from the onset.

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GEN AFRICA, 22 ON SLOANE

  • Corner William Nicol Drive & Sloane Street
    Bryanston, 2191
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Email: residency@22onsloane.co

GEN GLOBAL

  • 1133 15th St, NW
    Washington, DC 20005
    United States of America

© 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Network

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