With South African unemployment sitting at a 13-year high of 26,6%, both the public and private sector are scrambling to find solutions.
While the spotlight is rightly being shone on education, it is arguably the country’s deep pool of entrepreneurs who can make the most immediate and powerful impact. When entrepreneurs succeed, they act as powerful changemakers within their communities – creating jobs, promoting new skills and knowledge, and laying the foundation for an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and growth.
“With the right mentorship, funding and institutional support, our country’s most dynamic and promising entrepreneurs and thinkers can turn their businesses into stable and thriving enterprises with global reach,” says Catherine Townshend, MD of Endeavor South Africa, a global non-profit organisation that is leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world.
Since Endeavor SA’s inauguration in 2004, they’ve been supporting entrepreneurs through various initiatives, and interviewing prospective candidates to grow their local portfolio. Three years in, they initiated an Excelerator programme targeted at black-owned businesses demonstrating the potential to scale within a defined timeframe.
“We believe that by searching for and strategically supporting a select group of high impact entrepreneurs who are transforming their communities, their industries and their countries, will drive the positive momentum that is so desperately needed,” says Townshend.
She explains that high impact entrepreneurs are those that lead businesses that grow rapidly (by 20% to 30% per annum) in the first several years of existence. These are entrepreneurs who, with the right support, become influential business leaders and/or serial entrepreneurs and ultimately become investors in the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The current Endeavor SA portfolio is comprised of approximately 200 mentors, an active network of 34 Endeavor entrepreneurs from 23 companies; six Excelerator entrepreneurs from six companies, and an alumni network of 40 Endeavor entrepreneurs from 31 companies and 34 Excelerator entrepreneurs from 26 companies.
“By selecting businesses that have high growth potential and local impact, Endeavor essentially builds upon a robust global network that provides inspiration, invaluable connections to experienced local and global mentors, opportunities to grow into global markets through the global Endeavor network and eventually, access to capital,” Townshend says.
“Our results show a decade of phenomenal financial and job growth with approximately 21 000 jobs created by Endeavor South Africa companies since 2004,” she adds. “This is an indicator of a community that is growing and gaining momentum, and we are excited to see Endeavor South Africa fast becoming an enabler of positive change.”
According to Endeavor Insight, the non-profit’s global research arm, Endeavor Entrepreneurs are four times more likely to inspire others, eight times more likely to serve as a mentor and four times more likely to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“In South Africa, where both venture capital and high level mentorship have been notoriously tough to access for emerging business leaders, organisations such as Endeavor can have an immediate and incredibly transformative impact,” says Townshend.
Over the past 20 years, Endeavor has globally become a shared vision, cultivated and expanded by its many stakeholders that support the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world. With multiple locations across North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Endeavor currently operates from 50 offices in 25 markets and supports 1 403 entrepreneurs from 875 companies.