Tag Archives: entrepreneurship development

Entrepreneurial Success

Successful South African Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Development Encourage Others to Become Entrepreneurial

Well yes this is true! Success breeds success, particularly when it comes to South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development.

There are many people who have become successful South African entrepreneurs, and each has their own story to tell. One home-grown South African legend is Thope Lekau, now a world leader in social entrepreneurship. This is her story of success.

About Thope Lekau and her Entrepreneurial Success

successful South African entrepreneurs
Thope Lekau – www.kopanong-township.co.za/

Thope Lekau is a registered tour guide who is a local legend in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. Not only has she created a highly successful business for herself, but she is also a role model for emerging South African entrepreneurs. This makes her a social entrepreneur – but she is more than that. Thope Lekau is a recognised as a world leader in this field.

Thope Lekau’s story began in 1997, three years after South Africa’s first democratic elections. She was a child of the Apartheid era and grew up in abject poverty. But her heart was in the community and both before and after the historical elections in 1994, she worked for a number of community development organisations.

The key to successful South African entrepreneurs and related development that will be meaningful, is the ability of an entrepreneur to identify an opportunity, and then create a successful business out of the idea. Thope Lekau’s vision was to enable tourists to see and experience the townships.

“I was disappointed that tourists only saw Khayelitsha from behind glass, from their cars or from tour buses. Khayelitsha isn’t a zoo! Initially I opened my doors for tea and lunch. And now, I have a B&B!”

And now she has a highly successful B&B, enabling her to interact with and entertain people from all over the world, including Germany, Ireland, the US, Australia, Japan and Denmark. Furthermore, some days she takes two buses full of people through the township.

Not content to simply be an entrepreneurial success story, Thope Lekau trains and mentors local women in guesthouse keeping, small business management and catering skills. She is totally dedicated to the economic betterment of the community in which she lives. She is also an active participant and advocate for local NGOs and helps match guests who are interested in volunteering to organisations that need the particular skills of the guest. The guest gets the experience and the organisation gets the benefit of those skills.

Thope Lekau knows how important training is – which is why she applied for an HJ Heinz Foundation Fellowship to study small scale entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh in the US. She got that right, and no sooner had she launched her new business in 1999, she got an Award of Excellence for the Tygerberg Tourism Bureau.

She has continued – successfully – to strive for excellence in her field. In 2001 she was on the final shortlist of the prestigious 2001 AA Travel Guides Accommodation Award Programme with her B&B. In 2005, she was an AA Travel Awards finalist for Township Modern B&B. And in 2006 she was nominated by the South African Department of Trade and Industry to participate in a trade mission to Ireland.

But her greatest reward so far was becoming an Ashoka Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellow in 2003, making her one of a small and elite group in the world that is recognised for leadership in social entrepreneurship.

According to Ashoka: “Thope Lekau has launched an initiative to inspire women and youth in South Africa’s townships to seize newly available economic opportunities and overcome the social challenges they face. Thope’s model is unique in that it focuses on empowering women and providing them with the tools to introduce the lucrative tourism industry to the economically depressed townships in post-Apartheid South Africa.”

This in itself makes her a key person in terms of South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development.

But while individual South African entrepreneurs were busy cashing in on the tourism market, Thope Lekau’s model was to develop an innovative way of doing business that would enable people to collectively share profits and so improve life for all. And it doesn’t stop in Khayelitsha. She has also developed a training module for women and young people that shows how they can empower themselves economically and be self sufficient and self reliant.

About Ashoka and their Entrepreneurial Success

successful South African entrepreneurs
Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka.

Ashoka is a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs – who are men and women with system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. American –born Bill Drayton who formed Ashoka in 1980, calls the “changemakers”.

Instead of leaving the needs of society to governments and business sectors to address, Ashoka’s philosophy is to encourage social entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions that can improve the lives of millions of people.

Working with their global community, Ashoka develops models for collaboration and design infrastructure that are needed to advance the field of social entrepreneurship and what they call “the citizen sector”.

“Since 1981, we have elected over 2,000 leading people in this field as Ashoka Fellows, providing them with living stipends, professional support, and access to a global network of peers in more than 60 countries.”

According to the Ashoka web site, an incredible 83% of their Fellows have changed a system at a national level within ten years of them being elected a Fellow.

Thope Lekau is one of the people, a leading light for South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development.

South African Entrepreneurs

Understanding South African Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Development

South African Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Development
South African entrepreneurs are quick to climb to success.
Picture PhotoRack.

It has often been said that economic development in any country is directly related to the level of entrepreneurial activity that takes place within the country. It has also been said that both enterprise development and entrepreneurship are amongst the best ways to create wealth and add value to society as a whole.

In South Africa, with all its historical imbalances, enterprise development in particular is seen as a key to enabling black South Africans (in particular) to take a rightful place in business.

You may well have read this kind of thing before, but how much do you know about enterprise development, South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development in this country?

South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development are key to our national economy

South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development defined

If you open a dictionary and look for the definition of an entrepreneur, you will see that this is a business person who is prepared to take initiatives and calculated risks in order to make a profit. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you will have to take risks. And to be successful, you need to make money out of your endeavours.

Taking risks does not imply stupidity, or suggest that entrepreneurs are gamblers. But it does mean they are able to rise to challenges that will increase profitability.

The most significant factor about entrepreneurs – including of course South African entrepreneurs – is that they need to be able to identify a feasible opportunity and then ascertain whether the opportunity they have identified is in fact a viable idea. If the idea isn’t feasible, anyone who is likely to become a successful South African entrepreneur will drop the idea. But if the idea IS feasible, that very same person will have the capacity to take the idea further to see if it is in fact viable. If it is, they will usually do a business plan and then launch a new business.

Basically, entrepreneurs are able to take their own creative ideas and combine these with the skills, resources and people who are needed to be able to form a successful business.

In essence, they need to be able to:

  • Identify new or different opportunities that may be products or services.
  • Be creative and innovative.
  • Start a business that he or she can call their own.
  • Manage that business with or without the help of other people.
  • Finance, produce and market products and services successfully.
  • Find the finances if not immediately available.
  • Organise and control all the resources needed to run a successful business (this includes finding and managing the capital required for the business, as well as the people and materials needed for it to operate).
  • Take risks. Remember that these will be calculated risks and not just stupid risks!

A lot can be said about entrepreneurship development, but really what is important is that the concept involves literally developing entrepreneurship and making entrepreneurial enterprises happen. For this reason, enterprise development helps South African entrepreneurs of all colours and creeds achieve their desires.

Extending the concept of South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development

There are many different types of entrepreneurial businesses, and also many different types of entrepreneurs.

For instance, entrepreneurial businesses may be micro – which means they are really small, one-person businesses – or they can be small, medium or large. Generally it is the SMME (which stands for small, medium and micro enterprises) sector that carries the South African entrepreneur. This is partly because the more entrepreneurial businesses there are, the more jobs there will be for people who aren’t entrepreneurs.

In fact it is believed that 97,5% of all businesses in South Africa are SMMEs – although not all of these are entrepreneurial businesses, and not all grow and become successful.

A business entrepreneur, regardless of what he or she might do for a living, may be described as a person who undertakes a wealth-creating and value-adding process by developing ideas, getting resources together and making things happen. The success of a business entrepreneur is measured by performance and return (or profit).

Then there are social entrepreneurs, who are people who recognise social problems and use entrepreneurial principles to organise, create and manage ventures in an endeavour to bring about social change. The success of social entrepreneurs is measured by the impact their work has on society.

A relatively new sector, social entrepreneurship has a vital role to play in emerging markets. Because social entrepreneurs are passionate about what they do, they are able to make change happen and so help in the transformation process.

Then there are corporate entrepreneurs, or intrapreneurs, who create a new, profitable business within a business that already exists.

One of the best known examples of successful intrapreneurship involving South African entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship development, is the formation of Outsurance and Discovery Health from within the highly successful existing business structure of First National Bank (FNB).  What made Outsurance entrepreneurial was that it offered direct, short-term insurance to people without the traditional intermediary insurance brokers being involved. Over the years it has grown from a small corporate entrepreneurial business to a large, highly successful insurance business.

So which route could you take? Think about it… and good luck!