In a recent survey commissioned by the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, our youth gave their perspectives on the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa. The eye-opening report at http://www.bransoncentre.org/SouthAfrica/young_upstarts_report.pdf shows that this area is in drastic need of improvement!
What can we do to fix this? Entrepreneurial role models and a positive national outlook have a vital role to play.
Successful entrepreneurs as role models in the lives of our youth are important for two reasons:
1. to make our youth see that entrepreneurship is a viable alternative (rather than a survivalist route they turn to when they have no other choices, like many previously disadvantaged individuals had to in the apartheid era), and
2. that they can aspire to be successful entrepreneurs rather than corporate clock-watchers.
Why is a positive national outlook important? As South Africans, sadly we often tend to put ourselves down and to believe that we’re inferior to other countries like the US. With world-class examples of SA success stories behind us like the Soccer World Cup 2010, as well as world-changing entrepreneurs like Mark Shuttleworth, Vinny Lingham and Elon Musk coming out of SA, we have lots to be proud of. So this perception is changing and our national self-esteem is starting to improve, but it will take time. We need to focus more on the times we’ve gotten it right and celebrate these successes. This will spill over into our youth and help create tomorrow’s great South African entrepreneurs.
As Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. So what are you doing today to build your kids into tomorrow’s leaders?