South Africa has a low entrepreneurial activity rate. Contributing to this is the lack of entrepreneurial skills among the country’s entrepreneurs.
According to FNB’s State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa report both formal (primary to tertiary education) and informal (home and social networks) educational structures do not impart entrepreneurial skills in South Africa.
A growing number of private entrepreneurship-focused training institutions are launching to help bridge this gap.
Lora Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is one such institution. The academy officially opened in Johannesburg in July this year.
Lora, which means dream in SeTswana, was founded by Roche Mamabolo, an entrepreneur and author. Mamabolo is the director of Radipolelo Business Consulting, a company that focuses on research, feasibility studies, and entrepreneurship-related projects. He is also the founder and chairman of Vuka Advisory Board of Entrepreneurship, an entrepreneurship mentorship programme.
Mamabolo’s interest in entrepreneurship and business was sparked at a young age having grown up in an entrepreneurial family. He obtained an MBA in Finance and went on to pursue a PhD in Entrepreneurship from the University of Pretoria. He is now, through his academy, hoping to share his vast knowledge with other entrepreneurs.
“As someone who interacts with entrepreneurs through various projects, I have come to realise that entrepreneurs are very good technicians, they master their skills and crafts very well, but struggle to translate those skills and crafts into a successful and sustainable business,” says Mamabolo.
“We need to revolutionise our education system to teach people to be entrepreneurs,” he adds.
Much needed business skills
Lora offers both business and leadership courses with the intention of helping entrepreneurs navigate the business world.
Their 5-month New Venture Creation (NVC) certificate is SETA accredited.
Lectures are held on Saturdays in Newtown and cover a variety of subjects ranging from important business basics such as sales, managing cash flow and strategies for building a sustainable business to operations management, marketing and branding – all taught by lecturers, who are entrepreneurs or specialists in their fields.
Mamabolo lectures on innovation. He is joined on staff by Nthabiseng Likotsi, the founder and executive chairperson of Young Women in Business Networking Holdings, who focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship; William Seyama, a digital strategist and founder of eNitiate Integrated Solutions lectures on digital marketing, while Timothy Maurice focuses on branding.
Beyond the technical know-how, the courses are also meant to foster critical thinking skills – rather than what to think – as well strategies to help entrepreneurs spot opportunities.
“Learning how to ‘see’ is critical in seeing and seizing opportunities. We may look at the same thing, but see [them] differently,” says Mamabolo.
Innovation also forms a key aspect of the curriculum. This is a topic that Mamabolo is passionate about and was the focus of his 2014 self-published book, ‘The Startup Revolution: Fit in or Stand Out’.
“The business environment is always changing; the pace of change today is fast. You either adapt or die. In order to remain competitive, entrepreneurs need to be innovative,” says Mamabolo.
“Big and old companies that refuse to adapt to change, close doors. The big do not eat the small, but the fast eat the slow,” says Mamabolo.
They plan to start offering a certificate in Executive Management and Leadership from 2017, says Mamabolo.
Entrepreneurship role models
Lora is also hoping to play their part in helping to expose more young entrepreneurs to role models. They do this through their IMPACT Speaker Series, which is a monthly series. Each month successful entrepreneurs are invited to share their experiences and key lessons with other entrepreneurs, as well as discuss a variety of challenges they may be facing.
This year they have hosted Farah Fortune, founder of African Star Communication; Jabu Stone, founder of Jabu Stone Natural Hair and Frank Magwegwe, an executive at Momentum Retail, among others.