While South Africa is regarded as the entrepreneurial leader in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s weakest link in terms of its entrepreneurial ecosystem is start-up skills. It poses the question of… what skills can be taught, to improve the appetite for entrepreneurship?
Statistics South Africa released the latest results of its Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017, which showed that, apart from the overall unemployment rate reaching a 13 year high of 27,7%, the youth (ages 15 – 34 years) unemployment rate also increased to 38,6%. The increase in unemployment is evidence that there a lack of start-up skills in the country, and calls for an even more focused approach to building an entrepreneurial ethos – from grassroots level.
The number of SMMEs in South Africa increased by 11.2% year-on-year from 2.23 million in 201 to 2.48 million in 2017. Over the same period, the number of formal sector SMMEs increased by 11.6%, while informal sector SMMEs increased by 11.7%. Some of the growth in SMMEs may reflect survivalist operations resulting from economic conditions.
South Africa is in dire need of providing the appropriate support structures in uplifting the potential of entrepreneurs and SMME’s, to a level of independence, self-sufficiency and sustainable productivity.
Business Incubation worldwide has been an established mechanism through which entrepreneurs and SMME’s could be supported and grown. Incubation is geared at assisting early stage companies to overcome start-up challenges. This is achieved through providing a variety of interventions such as subsidized office space, coaching, mentoring, training, and support for market access.
The incubation fraternity has been fast evolving with a number of trends being noticed. Incubators, apart from being support mechanisms, have also evolved into growth acceleration mechanisms. As well as new business models, such as corporate incubators and enterprise development incubators.
There has however been no co-ordination between local incubators, as well as between incubators and international organisations. Better regulation and support of incubators is critical for growth and effectiveness of entrepreneurs and SMME’s.
With this being said, it is evident that there is a need for bringing all incubators under one platform – in response to this need, SABTIA was set up.
The Southern African Business and Technology Incubation Association (SABTIA) was initially set up in 2005 to serve as the incubator industry standards, practitioner and members association, by providing the dissemination of knowledge, skills and expertise to all incubators nationally, continentally and internationally through partnerships with stakeholders like STP.
SABTIA’s vision is to serve as an association that advocates all incubators, accelerators, educational institutions and developmental stakeholders’ credibility through education and consolidation of training, certification programmes, benchmarking and standard codes of good practice, networks and facilitation of events, shared services and innovative solutions.