ENTREPRENEURSHIP – a national cross-cutting imperative
Achiever 2003 Issues 7 (Cape Media)
Entrepreneurship cuts across all sectors and all subjects. It is a value system, a life skill. It should be given the status of a critical national imperative! Resources should be poured into the establishment and support of intrapreneurs in institutions and entrepreneurs creating jobs.
This is the vision, passion and work of the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship which provides entrepreneurship teaching materials to schools and trains entrepreneurs to run successful businesses.
The Institute has produced entrepreneurship materials for youth in schools and for developing entrepreneurs. To date over 4000 programmes are being used in South African schools and organizations in 75 countries (15 languages) use the developing entrepreneur programmes.
The materials grew out of the success of the Triple Trust Organisation at the end of the 1980s. There was a desperate need for innovative business training programmes to convey the complexity (and simplicity) of the business process to non-reading entrepreneurs. The development team came up with a simulation “game” which involved participants experiencing the spills and thrills of business and discovering the entrepreneur within themselves. In this way the principles of reinvesting working capital, dealing in cash, costing, supply and demand were all internalized and retained.
The BEST Game has been used for over 14 years in South Africa and during this time discovered by the ILO (UN) and various agencies in the USA, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines. The magic of the learning process is universal and always has participants leave with an “aha!” experience. Since then a business planning process has been added, courses designed around the simulation and an entire curriculum for all grades developed for the Economic and Management Sciences Learning Area (which includes Entrepreneurship) for South Africa schools.
The Institute, a non-profit organization, relies on the support of companies and funding trusts to provide entrepreneurship teaching-resources to under-resourced schools. The materials are however also used in so-called wealthy schools with huge success. The fact that each learning nugget is applied through practical application makes the process uniquely usable in any area by alerting the students to entrepreneurial opportunities in their own communities- and giving them a chance to test their new-found entrepreneurial qualities and skills.
The BEST Game range of materials for emerging entrepreneurs are implemented by a range of business associates country-wide. These are experienced business people who assist entrepreneurs to develop viable, practical business plans that have been developed together with the entrepreneur – rather than for them.
A unique product in the range of programmes developed by the Institute is Assess It. This is a tool developed for the Banking sector. It enables loan officers to be able to assess an entrepreneur and a business plan in a holistic way – not just by ascertaining whether they have collateral or capital to underwrite the risk. The Audit tool enables the loan assessor to “quantify his/her gut” and to put a value to “soft” qualities such as how competent, how commited, how passionate the entrepreneur is – often qualities that are overlooked, but which may actually be the qualities which determine the success of the business and consequently the degree of loan risk. It also gives the assessor the tools to determine the weaknesses or flaws in the entrepreneur’s business and consequently provide meaningful feedback or mentoring with a view to the entrepreneur returning with the weak areas strengthened and the loan issued!
Given the exciting new environment of South African banking, this process closes the gap between the traditional banks and their traditional client profiles – and the new emerging market of the previously unbankable – the new South Africa entrepreneurs.
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