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USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

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USB hosts book launch for ‘Fault Lines’ that explores the lasting effects of race and racism in South African society

  • JUL 02
  • Tags Fault Lines, Book launch, Race, Science, Society, Black Lives Matter, Research

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A book exploring the lingering consequences of race and racism in South Africa and globally was launched during an online event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) on Thursday, 25 June 2020.

‘Fault Lines: A primer on race, science and society’ delves into challenging questions such as, What is the link, if any, between race and disease? What are the roots of racial thinking in South African universities? Are new developments in genetics simply a backdoor for the return of eugenics?

Co-editor Prof Jonathan Jansen, distinguished professor of education at Stellenbosch University, said the issue is how to educationally address these concerns when people so often scream at each other when it comes to issues of race.

“When you talk to people about terrible racist actions and they say in response to the crisis, Wat het ons verkeerd gedoen? (What did we do wrong), my initial gut reaction was to say, Get real. But I then realised these were genuinely real responses,” he said.

“People don’t have a lot of patience with people who respond with, I really don’t know what I did wrong. Yet the more I thought about that for the past ten years or so, the more I realised that that is true.

There isn’t a moral consciousness that kicks in that says, ‘This is horrible’.
– Prof Jonathan Jansen

“My colleagues, my friends, my students really did not know what they did wrong. There isn’t a moral conscience that kicks in that says, This is horrible. And unless we understand that, you are not going to change the underlying behaviour,” he said.

Dr Cyrill Walters, lecturer on the MBA programme at USB and who co-edited the book, said that “when we talk about ‘Fault Lines’ it would be remiss of us not to mention Angela Saini’s book, ‘Superior: The Return of Race Science’.

Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change.
– Dr Cyrill Walters

“She touches on ignorance. She says ignorance is probably part of the problem, but the problem is not only ignorance. Even when people have all the facts, they don’t necessarily want things to change,” she said. “Even if people know it’s wrong there’s absolutely no reason for them to commit.”

Ferial Haffajee, associate editor at the Daily Maverick, was a speaker and made reference to UCT Professor Nicoli Nattrass’s research that made headlines recently (the research suggested that black South African students are less likely to consider studying the biological sciences than other students).

“I didn’t know how to approach it because I don’t think its primarily an issue of academic freedom; it’s much more than that. She sent junior researchers out at lunch and they asked 112 students if they had pets, wanted to study conservation, and believed that Rhodes must fall.

“Stupid questions like those were going to beget the stupid answers that she got into a piece of research that to me is quite deformative, and I think Prof Nattrass knows that,” she added.

There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom.
– Ferrial Haffajee

“We sit with three pages of work that finds black students are materialistic and not really interested in the natural science. There are reasons why we should raise our voices against such research while standing up for the rights of academic freedom,” Haffajee said.

She added that it was easy to debunk the Nattrass research with facts. “All I did was call up SANParks to find out that 13 of our 20 beautiful national parks are headed by black South Africans and all of the senior conservationists at SANParks are black South Africans. I think the kind of crude science-based research is really passé and should be on its way out across our campuses,” she said.

Journalist and political commentator Max du Preez, who was also a speaker, said the timing of the book could not have been better “even though the authors could not have known that its publication would coincide with the extraordinary worldwide movement #BlackLivesMatter, unleashed by the murder of George Floyd”.

“I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to human beings’ ability to change in a short amount of time but the scale and intensity of the present movement suggests that history would one day point out that this was a moment when attitudes and sensitivity towards race shifted meaningfully,” he said.

Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.
– Max du Preez

He added: “This is how we roll as human beings. Things can go wrong for a very long time, but we only sit up and notice change when something dramatic happens that gets lots of media coverage.”

Prof Piet Naudé, USB Director, said in his introduction that the book appeared on the cusp of both national and international hard debates about race and other forms of isms in our society. “The reason why it is so important for us at the USB to part of this, is because we are part of South Africa.

“Our students, academics and international students are subject to the same kind of socialisation processes in South Africa. Therefore, there is no reason why we are less prone to racist attitudes, dismissive gender attitudes and issues of sexual orientation,” he said.

Dr Armand Bam, Head of Social Impact at USB, was the facilitator.


Watch the video here >>

Fault lines book launch

 

The book is available at:

Google Books: https://bit.ly/2X7tBN8

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3bJUNFV

ITSI: https://bit.ly/2wOV5wc

Takealot: https://bit.ly/3fII9c2

African Sun Media: orders@africansunmedia.co.za / 021 201 0071

In the media

New book Fault Lines explores the lingering effects of racism in academia; Daily Maverick

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Grief during covid-19

Society is grieving: How can we make meaning of it?

USB News

Society is grieving: How can we make meaning of it?

Grief during covid-19

  • JUN 17
  • Tags Opinion, Society, Meaning, COVID-19, Values, Emotions, Pandemic

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This opinion piece was written by Prof Arnold Smit, Associate Professor of Business in Society at USB, and was used as an exclusive on Fin24.

In a gripping poem, Warsan Shire[i] narrates how, one night, she was sitting with an atlas on her lap with her fingers running across the world while she whispers the question, “where does it hurt”. In return, the atlas answered “everywhere, everywhere, everywhere”.

Since discovering Shire’s poem I used it as a lens on people’s experience of the current context we are in. Not a day goes by without an update on the statistics of the Coronavirus sweeping wildly through countries, communities and households. Nor can we avoid the scenes playing out in hospitals, the mourning of the bereaved and the preparation of graves for what is yet to come. Where does it hurt? Everywhere.

Exactly two weeks after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I used it to open an online workshop on values. Not only did this group of men and women associate the poem with the rising tide of anger and grief across the world, for them it ripped open their own painful memories of what apartheid did to them, their families and communities.

Where does it hurt? Everywhere.

In a workshop with a group of executives from one of South Africa’s leading retail groups, I listened in on their narratives of coming to terms with the impact of COVID-19. The initial business projections for 2020 turned into a nightmare as budgets had to be revised while doing everything possible to soften the impact for employees, suppliers, tenants and customers.

Where does it hurt? Everywhere.

Dealing with students in a remote learning environment becomes a window into their domestic challenges during lockdown. For some, job loss is already a reality. Many have to cope with work, their studies and familial responsibilities at the same time. Some had to alter their wedding arrangements while others are dealing with bereavement in their families and social networks. For many it feels like a curtain has been drawn on their future plans.

Where does it hurt? Everywhere.

Life as we were used to, has been extensively disrupted, whether we look at it from an individual, relational, organisational or societal perspective.

COVID-19 was certainly not in our script for 2020. Suddenly it has become the code word for an all-encompassing experience of change and loss sweeping through everything that previously felt familiar, comforting and even predictable. Life as we were used to, has been extensively disrupted, whether we look at it from an individual, relational, organisational or societal perspective. It will not be an overstatement to say that we are a society in grief at the moment.

It hurts everywhere.

Tough as it is, it may do us well to make to make sense of what we experience at the moment. One way of looking at it, is from the perspective of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s model of what people experience around death and dying[ii].

Although her idea of a grief cycle as such has been criticised by many, there is sensibility in the five core emotions that she identified.

  • Denial is often the first response and expressed in the assumption that something is either not true, or as bad as reported.
  • Anger represents the desire for a scapegoat, the possibility that something or someone is to blame for the challenge that you are facing.
  • Bargaining is to look for a way, some sort of compromise, to avoid or soften the impact, to be able to continue with what you were always used to.
  • Depression represents a despairing realisation that the crisis will not dissipate, that circumstances will not change, that the change is permanent and that there will be no turning back to what was before.
  • Acceptance is about embracing either the loss or the inevitable change that is going to occur, making peace with what you cannot change, and focusing on that which you can influence or have some control over.

Making the COVID-19 connection with the Kübler-Ross framework is not difficult at all. Since the start of the pandemic, and especially since the announcement of lockdown, you may have experienced some or all of these emotions as well. You may have experienced some sort of sequence, going from the one to the other as if they represented stages in your experience. You might have experienced different ones at different times depending on what kind of COVID-19 related impact you have been dealing with. You may find yourself somewhat stuck with a particular one, due to a variety of challenges you have to deal with at the same time.

Applying the Kübler-Ross framework, we may say that we experience these emotions because of grief resulting from loss: loss of future certainty, loss of employees, loss of suppliers, loss of income, loss of normal connection and socialisation, loss of life, loss of freedom, loss of dreams.

Where does it hurt? Everywhere.

So how do we make meaning of the COVID-19 challenge?  David Kessler, a world-renowned expert on grief work, co-wrote with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and added a sixth element to her framework, namely meaning. In this context meaning refers to coming to terms with and integrating the impact of the change or loss and finding new courage and direction for what may be yet to come. In discussion with a group of Harvard Business Review staff[iii], Kessler said that “acceptance is where the power lies”.

Once we have accepted what is, we can start working on a balanced approach in terms of what we think and do.

Once we have accepted what is, we can start working on a balanced approach in terms of what we think and do. We can take precaution for not getting affected, we can appreciate the things we still have access to, we can reach out to those who are sick or suffering bereavement, we can use technology to stay connected, we can share and help others as well to express the emotions that we are feeling.

It hurts everywhere. There is no use in fighting or denying it. But we can make meaning through how we deal with it. In a webinar[iv] aimed at leaders and managers in business, I shared the following guidelines:

  • Make sure that you have those things that provide the foundation of your organisation under firm control. Inasmuch as it is under your control, plan carefully, stay creative, spend wisely. You and your people need this for stability.
  • Make sure that you stay in touch with every individual, even daily if you can, so that you may know where they are, how they are, what they experience, what they can or can’t cope with. This is not just about their continued performance, but about their personal and relational wellness. They need to know and feel that you really care.
  • Do not try to talk people out of how they feel, or prescribe to them how they should feel, or sell them cheap comfort. If you do this, you only create unnecessary distance and resistance. You may have felt the same and now it is your turn to take them seriously and show them that you understand what they are going through.
  • Be prepared and available to be cared for by your team members as well. There may be times some of them may be better equipped to deal with certain emotions and experiences than you are. There may be challenges that some of them have already worked through that you still need to deal with. Allow them to be helpful.
  • Maintain the necessary safety disciplines, keep the workplace clean, make sure everyone wash their hands, wear masks, and keep the right distance. Keep the virus out; once it is in it is already too late.

It hurts everywhere. Life will never be the same again.

It hurts everywhere. Life will never be the same again. We will have to rebuild our dreams for ourselves, our communities, society and the economy. Inasmuch as we are hurting together, even if in different ways, we’ll have to learn how to rebuild together. While the pandemic, and its related effects, will leave us with an indelible collective sense of grief, it can also become the rebirth of imagination for a better, more balanced and more compassionate world.

References

[i] https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/5431334.Warsan_Shire

[ii] Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04015-9.

[ii] https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

[iv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0QvxPvplHg&t=289s

About the author

Prof Arnold Smit is Associate Professor of Business in Society at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. His academic work is focused on the integration of ethics, responsibility and sustainability in management education and organisational practice. He also facilitates training programmes on values-driven leadership, sustainability management and director development. Prof Smit holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy and a Doctor’s Degree in Theology from Stellenbosch University. He is also a non-executive director of The Ethics Institute, a trustee of SEED Educational Trust and the immediate past President of the Business Ethics Network of Africa.

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Survival of NPOs – saving a weakened sector

USB News

Survival of NPOs – saving a weakened sector

  • JUNE 12
  • Tags Survival of NPOs – saving a weakened sector

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Head of Social Impact Dr Armand Bam says NPOs role in leadership should be recognised by government and business.

With the impact of COVID-19 rippling through the economy with disastrous effect, the livelihoods of non-profit organisations (NPOs) are under threat at the same time as demand for their support services is rapidly escalating.

Dr Armand Bam, Head of Social Impact at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) says a world without NPOs is “unimaginable and untenable, particularly when we need to address issues of social justice and socio-economic inclusion”.

“We live in the most unequal society in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic will do much to entrench this divide.”

“The principles of dignity, equality and freedom to participate in all aspects of our society, as enshrined in the South African Constitution, are under threat. We live in the most unequal society in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic will do much to entrench this divide.

“We are pro-active as a nation when it comes to developing policies for upliftment, but we struggle to implement, monitor and hold to account the efficacy of these policies. While businesses act as suppliers of resources and government as a protector, it is NPO’s that are the proverbial glue that binds us and ensures delivery of social justice goals,” he said.

Along with the ups and downs of global and local markets and ratings downgrades, COVID-19 will further contribute to a rapid contraction in employment opportunities.

“The socio-economic inclusion of many citizens in our economy is already under threat…”

“The socio-economic inclusion of many citizens in our economy is already under threat and the coordinated effort between institutions and policies influencing productivity within our economy has been hit hard by the extended period of lockdown. Products and services from South Africa are less attractive than those in 59 other countries (The Global Competitiveness Report 2019) and as a result there will be less money available from the government through its tax collection efforts to support NPOs and promote socio-economic inclusion and justice for its citizens.”

He argues that since we live in a society, not in an economy, businesses and government should pay attention to what happens with the non-profit sector.

“Non-profits contribute to many African countries’ economies, yet we fail to recognise the multiple roles they play, especially that of intermediaries.”

“Non-profits contribute to many African countries’ economies, yet we fail to recognise the multiple roles they play, especially that of intermediaries. Together with government and business these organisations empower citizens and contribute much needed skills and infrastructure – the building blocks of any economy.”

Dr Bam said that “the new normal” had thrust NPOs into a crisis where expectations to deliver support to citizens and communities were escalating during lockdown, while many were left wondering where the support to ensure their survival would come from.

“As a result, something fundamental in the fabric of our society is being tested – the social contract that exists between NPO’s as project implementers, and business and government as suppliers of resources and grants. Traditionally this contract has been maintained through the moral agency of NPOs and their willingness to act at a cost well below what the market and government would deem viable for themselves. But this is now under threat as businesses across the country are suffering losses they had not anticipated, and invariably their support to NPOs will be curtailed.

“Self-preservation is an undeniable approach for businesses but must not be overtaken with self-interest.”

So, why should business and government care what happens to the sector?

“NPOs are important for upholding and ensuring democracy and social justice. Their recognition as a key partner alongside the public and private sectors must be acknowledged and supported. We need to ensure that the social contract that exists is maintained. Failure to safeguard this will inevitably destabilise our democracy.

“The resilience expected of the NPO sector and their ‘do good nature’ has been impacted in a similar manner to the private sector. Social distancing has played a role here. It is time for businesses and government to join hands with NPO’s and treat them not as beneficiaries but as part of transformational partnerships that move beyond the transactional.”

Dr Bam concludes by saying that business and government should include NPOs in a proactive and participatory way as we shape a post COVID-19 South Africa. “For this to occur we need to recognise the leadership roles NPOs can play in order to achieve goals which were not achievable before.”

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Entrepreneurship report reveals how startups can drive growth in a disrupted world

USB News

Entrepreneurship report reveals how startups can drive growth in a disrupted world

  • JUNE 11
  • Tags Entrepreneurship, South Africa, GEM Report, startups, entrepreneurs, economy, growth, social change

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USB launches Global Entrepreneurship Monitor South Africa (GEM SA) report in partnership with GEM SA and Seda.

The economic and social upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic underlines the need for a collective, and robust national strategy to unlock entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Already before the pandemic, many aspects of the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem needed a major overhaul. This is highlighted in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor South Africa (GEM SA) 2019/2020 report.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) launched the report on Monday, 8 June 2020.

GEM’s research output is considered the world’s most authoritative annual report on the global state of entrepreneurship. USB is the new custodian of this research in South Africa. The study included a survey sample of 3 300 people, and the national expert survey involved the input of 36 experts from diverse fields.

Angus Bowmaker-Falconer and Mike Herrington co-authored the report. Bowmaker-Falconer is a research fellow at USB. Herrington, previously the executive director of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, established GEM SA in 2001.

The GEM SA report – titled Igniting startups for economic growth and social change – contains the hard facts, data and figures that highlight trends in entrepreneurship in South Africa. The results of the study reveal the fundamentals to consider when developing an informed response aimed at securing economic recovery.

Bowmaker-Falconer says: “The pandemic has intensified the country’s economic challenges. We know that earnings have been affected, that further job losses are likely, and that many small, medium and micro enterprises may not survive under these extraordinary high stakes.” Most local companies are small or medium-sized enterprises and many will battle to stay afloat after one to three months with no or limited trade and income. “Early-stage entrepreneurial startups (new ventures less than 3,5 years old) are likely to be ravaged,” he says.

The economic and social recovery could take several years. GEM’s research during the 2008/2009 global financial crash showed a significant dip in early-stage entrepreneurial activity across the globe. Entrepreneurial ecosystems took two to three years to reach pre-2008 levels after this event. The recovery curve was driven directly by country-specific economic policy and financial support responses.

Unpacking the results
Here are some key findings from the report:

  • South Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was rated one of the most challenging in the sample of participating economies in 2019 and has exhibited little sign of improvement over the past few years.
  • In 2019, South Africa ranked 49th out of 54 economies on GEM’s National Entrepreneurship Context Index, ahead of only Croatia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Iran.
  • Societal values regarding entrepreneurship show an upward trend from 2003 to 2019. Specifically, there has been an increase from 2017 to 2019 in the number of people who see entrepreneurship as a good career choice (from 69.4% to 78.8%) and one with high status (from 74.9% to 82.2%).
  • There has been a substantial increase (from 43.2% in 2017 to 60.4% in 2019) in the number of individuals who perceive that there are good entrepreneurial opportunities in South Africa and believe that they have the skills and capabilities to start a business. This number is relatively high compared to many other economies.
  • Yet fear of failure is high at 49.8% among South Africans. This factor – likely a deterrent for individuals to start a business venture – has increased significantly from 2017 to 2019.
  • Only 11.9% of respondents have entrepreneurial intentions. This means one in every eight South Africans are latent entrepreneurs who intend to start a business within the next three years.
  • There was a small increase in the total amount of early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in the country between 2016 and 2017. This momentum was not, however, carried through to 2019, which showed no real increase from 2017 at only 10.8%. This TEA rate was below the average of 12.1% for the other participating African countries in 2019.
  • South Africa’s business exit rate decreased from 6.0% in 2017 to 4.9% in 2019, but is still higher than the established business rate of 3.5%. This confirms that more businesses are being closed down, sold or otherwise discontinued than being started.
  • There is clear evidence of purpose-driven entrepreneurship taking hold at a grassroots level – an encouraging sign of a collective will for future business sustainability.

Changing gears, moving forward
Moving from startup to scale requires the right support from the government and the private sector alike. The report calls for interventions in terms of government policies and initiatives, market openness, entrepreneurship education and training, and the availability of and access to finance to foster entrepreneurship.

Bowmaker-Falconer says: “Government is an enabler and fully supports and understands the importance of entrepreneurial development for inclusive economic growth and social cohesion.”

“The Department of Small Business Development (DBSD) announced significant new measures before this crisis related to access to funding. These measures include harmonising funding applications across all developmental finance institutions and introducing a blended financing model to reduce financing costs for entrepreneurs. Overall, the focus for the government should now be on achieving policy and support initiative alignment priorities.”

The government’s economic stimulus package to help bridge COVID-19 is significant, and the impact thereof for SMME’s needs to be evaluated and made public. “Big business needs to partner with the government and play their part in opening markets and value chain participation for smaller enterprises,” Bowmaker-Falconer says.

“Financiers, together with incubators and accelerators, need to help better prepare and educate entrepreneurs on how to pitch their business ideas, how to approach funders, and to navigate what kind of funding is most appropriate to their specific enterprise. What is very clear is that a cohesive and collective response is needed to ignite economic development and social cohesion potential beyond this crisis we are now in.”

An underlying key requirement for managing South Africa’s economic recovery is data. Integrated and public information is critical in understanding and planning how best to stimulate and support the entrepreneurial ecosystem going forward.

Furthermore, there is also a need for more intense entrepreneurial education to engage with the opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

As the sponsor of the study, Seda will now facilitate the implementation of the recommendations across the broader small enterprise development support system with its partners. One of the areas currently being pursued by Seda is identifying partners who can enhance its service offerings in research.

Bowmaker-Falconer concludes: “Entrepreneurship matters. Now, more than ever, startups, and specifically those driven by young entrepreneurs and women, need to deliver the innovation required to move us forward in a highly disruptive (and disrupted) world.”

Read the report here

About GEM
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a consortium of national country teams, primarily associated with top academic institutions, that carries out survey-based research on entrepreneurship around the world. GEM is the only global research source that collects data on entrepreneurship directly from individual entrepreneurs. Visit www.gemconsortium.org for information.

About Seda
Seda is an agency of the Department of Small Business Development. It is mandated to implement the government’s small business strategy; design and implement a standard and common national delivery network for small-enterprise development; and integrate small-enterprise support agencies across all tiers of government. Visit www.seda.org.za for information.

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Township entrepreneurs fighting hunger in communities

Township entrepreneurs fighting hunger in communities

USB News

Township entrepreneurs fighting hunger in communities

Township entrepreneurs fighting hunger in communities

  • JUNE 02
  • Tags SBA, small businesses, community, COVID-19, Community Feeding Network,

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SBA participants pull together to feed disadvantaged communities.

With millions of people during COVID-19 in need of food and NPOs struggling to service the alarming rate of hunger, entrepreneurs in Cape Town’s disadvantaged areas started the Community Feeding Network, pulling forces to make a difference.

The group of small business owners in Khayelitsha, Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain and Mfuleni purchase fruit and vegetables from urban and township farmers, package them in family units and delivery to vulnerable people living under the bread-line in their areas.

One fruit and vegetable unit can feed a family of 10 and at R150, each of these boxes are financed through the kind donations of caring South Africans and as far afield as Belgium and Germany.

Currently they are weekly feeding over 60 families and expanding their service further as donations are received. They are also servicing a number of feeding schemes with fresh produce that can be turned into wholesome cooked meals. The network is also growing with more entrepreneurs coming forward to join the fight against hunger.

The small businesses owners who are pulling resources and supporting each other are either current or past participants of the Small Business Academy of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) which offers sponsored tuition in order to strengthen and grow small businesses in underprivileged communities.

Community Garden

Using the knowledge acquired whilst on the programme the founders of this network had to think literally outside of the box as the businesses they had built up over many years, closed literally over night as lockdown was enforced.

Sandy Hendricks and Jackie Julie Brock (both from Mitchell’s Plain) and Kiki Bantom (from Khayelitsha) all had their own catering business. With the lockdown restricting the preparation of hot meals they were without any form of income.

In order to survive and noting a gap in the market, Sandy applied for an essential services certificate and started delivering fresh fruit and vegetables from her contracted farmers to her usual clientele, at the same time selflessly sharing produce with community feeding groups battling the huge challenge of hunger.

Meanwhile Kiki applied for an essential services certificate to open a Spaza Shop, and upon speaking one day to Sandy, decided that together with Jackie they can expand their reach of supplying nutritious food to those in need, whilst having some form of income, albeit minimal, to keep their own families fed.

They were soon joined by Alfred Sonandi from Mfuleni who’s waste picking business came to an abrupt halt and was desperate for income. Together with a friend who used to own a fish and chip shop, they are now delivering fresh produce to families in need as well as preparing soup to try and assist in alleviating the dire need for meals. Jody Morris, who has a graphic design business in Strandfontein, also joined the network to distribute food to 20 vulnerable families from the Strandfontein Children’s Cricket Club that he supports. Alfred, Kiki and Jody are also planning to teach the recipients to start their own backyard gardens to supply fresh fruit and vegetables post lockdown.

Giving-back has always stood out as a central theme amongst all our participants over the past six years of running this programme.

Coordinating the efforts of the entrepreneurs and creating a central hub for the network is Edith Kennedy, lecturer at USB’s SBA programme. She said the lockdown has pushed small businesses into uncharted waters, especially in the informal settlements, and she realised the desperate need for them to during this trying time to find some form of income whilst supporting their communities.

“Giving-back has always stood out as a central theme amongst all our participants over the past six years of running this programme. Naturally, they want to see their business grow and succeed but not at the expense of supporting their communities and sharing skills, time or money to uplift those who are struggling. During the lockdown I helped them to look for new opportunities, how to pull resources and find solutions with the assistance of other entrepreneurs, all whilst providing a service to the community.”

If you would like to sponsor a box please contact Edith Kennedy on edith.kennedy@erunway.co.za

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Africa's prospects

Experts on Africa’s prospects under ‘Africa Rising’ concept

USB News

Experts on Africa’s prospects under ‘Africa Rising’ concept

Africa's prospects

  • MAY 28
  • Tags Africa, economy, African Frontiers, Africa Rising, 4IR, Entrepreneurship

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The takeaway from the panel discussion was that economic growth in Africa was incumbent on leadership.

How can Africa consolidate its resources to reap the full benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)? This was the prominent theme during a recent panel discussion that was led by Dr Nthabiseng Moleko as part of the MBA module, Perspective on African Frontiers, where business leaders and academia met to deliberate on Africa’s contemporary and prospective opportunities.

It drew panellists such as Dr Louis van Pletsen (Founder and Director – InAfrica Holdings), Dr David Monyae (Co-Director – UJCI), Wilmot Magopeni (Executive Head & Business Development – Africa Insurance at FNB) and Andrew McLachlan (Managing Director Development – Hilton Group).

They also discussed strategies that the continent could pursue in order to strengthen its economic acumen including the value of leadership towards growth. China as a catalyst in African development was also discussed.

Dr Louis van Pletsen mentioned that Africa has a competitive advantage in its resource and capabilities. These include the youngest population (50% is younger than 25 years) and various mineral resources. Proper usage of these resources would enable Africa to make its economic mark in the world. However, Africa currently does not refine its raw materials and is also experiencing a brain drain of the younger innovative generation who have the capacity to increase the continent’s refining ability.

He also stated that Africa is more entrepreneurial than any other entrepreneurial society, arguing that there are millions of people involved in the informal sector. This signals a unique ability for entrepreneurship to thrive in Africa.

Dr David Monyae had strong views on trade barriers and argued that these barriers should be lifted completely. Andrew McLachlan’s view was that Africa needs connectors such as hard and soft infrastructure.

The overall view is that Africa must appeal to a broader set of commodities. Economic leaders need to open up to the global environment and African industry is underserved when it operates in isolation. There is a necessity for African economies to coordinate trade as a region so as to reap maximum benefits and for trade to be mutually beneficial. Coordination is critical towards the sharing of industry knowledge, technology, human resources and capital.

McLachlan was of the view that Africa needed to pull its resources strategically in order to usher in 4IR. Magopeni agreed with this sentiment and argued that Africa ought to consolidate capital, reliable trade partnerships as well as risk and rewards principles in order to facilitate unprecedented growth opportunities. McLachlan also highlighted that Africa has a potential to leapfrog technologies due to the lack or cost of infrastructure, meaning Africa is almost forced to leapfrog many barriers.

The panellists had a positive view that beyond COVID-19, Africa ought to take advantage on the usage of technology with Dr Moleko stating that “COVID-19 was an opportunity for us to rebuild, reconfigure and restructure Africa”.

The takeaway from the panel discussion was that economic growth in Africa was incumbent on leadership. Leadership in the 4IR need not only abide by democratic institutions of integrity and ethics but also with entrepreneurial vigour and strategisation. However, contemporary leadership on the continent is not promising on this front which means a new wave of leadership may be required to fill in this void.

USB’s MBA therefore become all the more relevant in this regards as the programme is earmarked to turn managers into entrepreneurs and 21st century leaders. These prospective leaders should be able to learn from the current mistakes and occupy the gaps that exist within the continent’s path towards harnessing the glory of 4IR.

*This article was written by MBA students as part of a group assignment for the module Perspectives on African Frontiers.

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