Entrepreneurship Under the Spotlight at GSB&L Business Forum
The role of education in cultivating entrepreneurs who have valuable contributions to offer South Africa’s sustainable economic development came under the spotlight at a Business Forum hosted by the Graduate School of Business and Leadership in association with Sanlam.
Under the theme: “Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainable Development”, the panel debated entrepreneurship in South Africa.
The panel comprised Hirsch’s Homestores’ Chief Operations Executive, Ms Margaret Hirsch; UKZN Pro Vice-Chancellor: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath; Rhodes University Tax Specialist, Professor Matthew Lester, and Moderator and Entrepreneurship Champion, Professor Shahida Cassim.
The Forum, attended by more than 200 people, was part of the GSB&L’s commitment to the training and development of ethical leaders who are versatile and successful in all spheres of life and passionate about social and economic development in South Africa.
In her opening address, Cassim said empowering entrepreneurs was very important as they were the solution to the high unemployment rate, inequality and social problems hampering the country’s economic development.
As an entrepreneur who knows the meaning of starting from the bottom and working hard to get to the top, Hirsch shared her inspirational life story about how she escaped the cycle of poverty to build a successful international business.
‘You have to think of something different and then work hard at making it a success,’ said Hirsch. ‘You can work for a boss and make them money or you can work for yourself and make your own money, I chose the latter. I run 16 businesses across the world and I am passionate about what I do.
‘South Africa is the land of milk and honey so go out there and work,’ she said.
Ramjugernath spoke on the role of Higher Education Institutions in cultivating and developing innovative graduates with entrepreneurial thinking needed to combat the social and economic problems facing the country.
‘We are a strong research institution but are not doing well in promoting a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,’ said Ramjugernath. ‘The government speaks about the need to move to a knowledge based economy so we are working on bringing in entrepreneurship and an innovation mindset in undergraduate programmes. This will see students come up with ideas and work on business plans and move to a prototype phase to empower our entrepreneurs.’
Lester delivered a presentation on the involvement of SMMES in sustainable business development, highlighting the role of business in the National Development plan.
‘We know very little about entrepreneurs in South Africa and we have failed them as we cannot even provide funding for them. We have become a nation of complainers and that has to change,’ said Lester.
‘We have to create sustainable leadership and uplift others or else we will have achieved nothing by 2030.’
The audience was also given an opportunity to air their views through a question and answer session while a networking opportunity after the event enabled them to engage with the panellists on a one-on-one basis.
Through initiatives such as the Business Forum, GSB&L aims to fulfill its mission of educating entrepreneurs, managers and leaders who will add value to society.