Enabling Intergenerational Inclusion In Entrepreneurship

Enabling Intergenerational Inclusion In Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship as a tool for reinforcing South Africa’s economy was under the spotlight at Trialogue’s Business in Society Conference 2024. The Absa-sponsored themed session, entitled ‘Enabling intergenerational inclusion through entrepreneurship’, explored the critical role of data in establishing a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship to thrive. The session also considered some of the ways in which to shift societal mindsets towards fostering entrepreneurial growth.

Absa’s sense of responsibility for driving financial inclusion is at the heart of the company’s support for entrepreneurship. “As an organisation we saw entrepreneurship as a space where not many organisations are investing to drive social change. To take society and our economy forward, we simply cannot raise young people who are purely job seekers. We need to raise young people who are job creators,” said Dr Steven Zwane, Absa corporate citizenship managing executive.

“The opportunity to be part of a dialogue like this not only enables us as a corporate to showcase what we do to move society forward and contribute to a better society, but also allows all these thoughts and ideas from people with a common agenda for making a change in society to be part of a meaningful dialogue.” Zwane added.

In his keynote address, founding academic director of the Allan Gray Centre for Africa Entrepreneurship Dr Phumlani Nkontwana emphasised the necessity for robust data to diagnose and overcome barriers to entrepreneurship in Africa. He highlighted the importance of understanding macroeconomic contexts and ecosystem conditions to effectively support entrepreneurial ventures. “You are only as strong as the strength of your ecosystem. If your ecosystem is struggling, no matter how many support organisations you put together, they’re just not going to work. That’s the story of Africa,” he said.

Speaking to his work at the centre, Nkontwana explained how the identification of ecosystem metrics has the power to move entrepreneurship beyond the work of existing entrepreneurial enterprise incubators and other supporting efforts towards diagnosing broader issues and improving talent and culture in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole.

Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) associate professor Anastacia Mamabolo, UVU Africa Group CEO Ian Merrington and entrepreneur Mankoana Pheona Phalane joined Dr Zwane to examine strategies for fostering a culture that embraces entrepreneurship and supports intergenerational enterprise development. Zwane presented Absa’s support for entrepreneurship education at the high school level as a strategy to tackle youth unemployment and promote a problem-solving mentality. “Investing in this paradigm shift not only creates employment, but also drives higher education ambitions,” he said.

Prof Mamabolo drew attention to the need for inclusivity in entrepreneurship and proper succession planning to transform businesses into legacy enterprises. She also stressed the importance of recognising and reaching out to informal entrepreneurs and seeking ways to integrate them into the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem where possible. Merrington and Phalane shared insights on mentorship and the individual approach required to support entrepreneurs through various stages of their business lifecycle. Merrington advocated for creativity and adaptability as essential criteria for entrepreneurial success, while Phalane advised entrepreneurs to leverage social media and establish compliance to attract sponsors and mentors.

The panel concluded with a discussion on the qualities that drive successful entrepreneurship. Flexibility, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace technology and change were identified as key traits for thriving in the evolving entrepreneurial landscape.

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