As a profession anchored in the principles of acting in the public interest and empowered to make a valuable contribution in shaping communities, economies and society, SAICA encourages members to make a difference by creating employment and other opportunities for the youth and people of this country
Entrepreneurship (including social entrepreneurship) is important because it creates value for not only the entrepreneur(s) but also for many other stakeholders, including society, as it has the ability to improve standards of living while creating wealth. As difference makers, SAICA members help solve many of the world’s complex problems and can help stimulate the South African economy through entrepreneurship and innovation. It is common knowledge that many CAs(SA) and AGAs(SA) commence their qualification journey with an ambition to their interest in business and to pursue entrepreneurial goals post qualification: Wanawake na wanaume, ke nako! (Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time!)
The important role of entrepreneurs and innovation
In these times of disruptive change fuelled by 4IR, entrepreneurship and innovation are critical in fostering much-needed economic growth and job creation − in particular responding to the world-leading youth unemployment rates in South Africa. There is no doubt that many businesses have had to go digital and adapt to change to survive. The digital revolution is changing the dynamics of the world and unlocking opportunities that need to be seized. Entrepreneurs help drive change with innovation, whereas new and improved products or services create new markets and value.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for more than two thirds of all jobs worldwide and account for the majority of new job creation. SMEs not only create jobs but are engines of economic growth and social development. As we work to achieve the aspirations of the country, its people and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the potential impact of SMEs needs to be elevated now more than ever. Starting up and growing business initiatives and side-hustles and taking the leap of faith needs to be encouraged and supported. This is the time to champion an entrepreneurial mindset, innovation and ways to improve business outcomes.
Making the entrepreneur
Would-be entrepreneurs need to be innovative and creative, possess awesome people skills (relational acumen) and be able to multitask and take risks. SAICA members are at an advantage in possessing these and the ability to navigate these challenging times and create sustainable value. The CA/AGA qualifications are formidable business qualifications that set members up for successful careers in business. While not everyone has the drive to become an entrepreneur, the CA/AGA qualification process and experience possesses the right balance of rigour and exposure to business models, value chains, risk, business processes and leadership to enable members to identify and seize opportunities and contribute to the economic growth trajectory of the country.
SAICA members have well-developed business acumen and possess a number of skills (most of which are in short supply) that make a successful entrepreneur. Of course, entrepreneurship comes with great challenges, including a risk of failure. There are several reasons why a business venture presents a challenge, and the navigation of these challenges and risks is what makes an entrepreneur. SAICA members are best placed to respond to the risks of the entrepreneurship journey, and as responsible leaders with solid financial management skills, members are encouraged to take the leap of faith and pursue their entrepreneurship ambitions.
There is a need for South Africans to embrace a culture of entrepreneurship. SAICA members are called on to utilise their scarce skills and manage rather than avoid risk when it comes to entrepreneurship. Preference for the so-called comfort of gainful employment to the perceived insecurity that comes with self-employment needs to continue to be questioned and challenged. The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa Growth entrepreneurs survey still points to a lack of business skills training at educational institutes as one of the obstacles stopping entrepreneurship on the continent. It is therefore encouraging that the Department of Basic Education has commenced piloting ‘entrepreneurship’ as a school subject in 540 schools in the country, which will help create an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age.
Recovery and economic stimulation
The South African economic reconstruction and recovery plan aimed at stimulating equitable and inclusive growth, following worrying stagnation over the past decade is aimed at setting the country’s economy on a recovery trajectory. The effects of the economic stagnation are being felt severely by people in all corners of the country and were made worse by the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In all the adversity, comes opportunities to reshape the economic landscape of the country and build a thriving economy that benefits all South Africans. Business and entrepreneurship form a critical part of the growth path for the country. Productive and innovative entrepreneurs can invigorate the economy by creating jobs, new innovations, products or services, technologies, and increasing productivity. Entrepreneurial activity is also crucial for maintaining the economic competitiveness of the country and for achieving long-term success.
Innovation from within
Intrapreneurship (corporate entrepreneurship or corporate venturing) is the practice of developing a new venture within an existing organisation, to exploit a new opportunity and create economic value. It occurs when employees apply entrepreneurial thinking within a company or organisation. For various reasons, this otherwise great opportunity for both the organisation and employee often ends up in missed opportunities for all. While there have been several positive examples of employees coming up with exceptional and innovative ideas, organisations are generally not perceived to support such (from just ‘any’ employee or external party), with many having to go it alone and outside the organisation to give the idea a chance.
SAICA calls on members to continue providing innovative and trustworthy advisory and partnership to business and government and to encourage innovation by creating company-wide innovation management systems within their organisations. This will ensure that innovation and opportunities are explored and managed and help create a resilient economy and organisations.
There are various reasons for the staggering youth unemployment rate in South Africa. One of these is the inability of the education and other systems to produce and support creativity, innovators and entrepreneurs. Most people are being taught, trained or prepared to look for employment, while a limited number of people are being trained, encouraged or supported to create employment opportunities. This leads to an imbalance between opportunities offered and sought, creating a dangerous pathway for the country.
Author: Msizi Gwala CA(SA), Project Director: Enabling Competencies