According to the newly issued Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of South Africa: A Strategy for Global Leadership Report, South Africa is one of the top countries in Africa for entrepreneurship.
The report ranked SA at number two out of 30 countries in the sub-Saharan African region. It also ranked SA number 55 out of 137 countries surveyed globally, followed by Namibia, Gabon and Ghana.
The report confirms South Africa’s position as an entrepreneurial leader on the continent and provides an insightful road map for private-public sector initiatives, such as the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) hosting a high-profile, first-ever national Lekgotla on Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) that took place on 16 and 17 March, sponsored by Standard Bank.
With the need for entrepreneurs on the rise for the country’s economic growth and the betterment of the current employment rate – currently sitting on 47.6% in the third quarter of 2016 from 53.7% in the second quarter of 2016 – it’s vital for educational institutions alongside South African private institutions to play their part in developing entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship education needs a significant upgrade in terms of its scope and scale, and entrepreneurial skills as well as the motivation to start a business should be brought to all students at universities, the goal being to increase startup rates.
For this to happen, a radical mindset change is needed from the students, but also, critically, from educationalists, the private sector and government. As outlined in the Lekgotla, to drive the change, this initiative needs to be spearheaded by the leadership of universities in partnership with the various selected stakeholders.
Universities in South Africa play a vital role in improving the entrepreneurial mindset and motivation of students, and boosting startups, mentioned Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Mduduzi Manana at the Lekgotla last week.
“We should learn from global universities that are 30 years old and have done particularly well in this regard, without reinventing the wheel. This can be done by using strategic partnerships to bring these expertise to the various universities.”
“Entrepreneurial knowledge and skills are developed, not just from lectures, but from a link to practice, and repeated experimentation and learning. Students will need to learn how to be innovative, how to leverage off markets, how to motivate for funds, and how to try something uncertain – acknowledging that this may not work as planned, but can provide valuable inforĀ¬mation to guide their next steps. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about,” says Jayshree Naidoo, head of the Standard Bank Incubator.
“This approach informed our need as Standard Bank to get involved. As a company that believes in supporting entrepreneurs and the growth of entrepreneurship in South Africa through our various incubation programmes, we are proud to be a part of this initiative alongside the Department of Higher Education and Training to help university entrepreneurship centres grow South Africa’s start-up community.”
In line with the bank’s sturdy commitment to education and youth development, Standard Bank plans to further align to DHET’s entrepreneurship development discussions in response to the growing need for student and graduate entrepreneurship, as well as the need for universities to become more entrepreneurial.

“Through our Business Incubator located in Rosebank, a co-working space that is a combination of an innovation and entrepreneurial lab, we can provide entrepreneurs with mentoring, coaching services, access to training in business development and content delivery for corporates,” says Naidoo
“Young entrepreneurs are and will continue to be the backbone of the South African economy,” she adds. “The role of government alongside private partners in supporting them should be to drive entrepreneurship education, and ease of access to markets and financing, so they can create and innovate South Africa’s future.”