COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc to economies across the globe, challenging leaders and entrepreneurs to stabilise their organisations as well as businesses while preparing and adapting for a newly uncertain ‘normal’. With industries grappling with the rapid dominance of mechanisms such as e-commerce, entrepreneurs are compelled to be agile and quickly adapt to the ever-evolving volatile market environment.
Research shows that the country’s entrepreneurial activity was showing signs of improvement over the past decade, however, South Africa has not fully embraced the economic potential presented by entrepreneurship. Moreover, the impact of the global pandemic continues to devastate small businesses across the globe, prompting the need for corporate companies to aggressively enable the growth of such businesses.
The role of Corporate South Africa in supporting entrepreneurship
Neli Xaba, General Manager at Barloworld Transport notes the importance of corporates in facilitating entrance into the transport as well as the logistics industry for emerging and existing entrepreneurs. This ensures that they gain access to areas they would not ordinarily have access to, enabling meaningful participation in the economy. “Enabling a new breed of entrepreneurs with diversified perspectives and approaches is imperative for the economy.
At Barloworld Transport, there is a programme called Emerging Trucker, aimed at training, fast-tracking, facilitating and capacitating entrepreneurs in the transport industry, affording them access to the markets the company operates in, funding, routes as well as Barloworld’s customer pool,” says Xaba.
Corporate South Africa has an immense responsibility in assisting entrepreneurs to meet the required standards, operation protocols as well as safety protocols to gain access to the greater market. “Corporates ought to partner with entrepreneurs, expose them to relevant training opportunities, mentorship programmes, grant them controlled access to their infrastructures, financial assistance in a form of loans and grants and also offer them shareholding in their consortiums,” continues Xaba.
With this burden alleviated and fully equipped to enter the market, entrepreneurs can thus place great emphasis on innovation that will induce economic growth.
Embracing innovation that induces economic growth
Undoubtedly, radical innovation often contributes to economic growth and entrepreneurs are notable drivers of innovation. They thrive in unprecedented times as this offers them the opportunity to think outside of the box, discard the standard playbook, and creatively come up with compelling solutions to address issues and enhance their product offering to meet their customers’ needs.
Apart from stimulating employment, entrepreneurs invest a considerable amount of time in identifying gaps in the market and exploiting opportunities while cognisant of the risks thereof. “Their creative flair allows them to neglect the old saying – if it is not broken do not fix it – and encourages them to break it and put it in another form for the benefit of their businesses, communities and the economy,” shares Xaba.
Their creativity, ability to embrace risks, resilience, and tolerance for uncertainty contributes greatly to the economy as they develop innovations that foster economic activity. Furthermore, entrepreneurship is not about starting a company and resigning from a place of employment. Entrepreneurship is about innovatively coming up with ideas to solve problems - thus employees can also become intrapreneurs within their organisations.
Cultivating from within - corporates encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship
Described by Investopedia as an inside entrepreneur who exercises entrepreneurial skills without incurring the risks associated with those activities, intrapreneurs continue to grow within organisations. This is currently pivotal with the effects of COVID-19 on organisations and the need to develop ground-breaking inventions for the benefit of employees, customers, and shareholders.
Organisations ought to set aside time for employees to come up with ideas, allocate resources for the implementation of those ideas while encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship across their operations.
Entrepreneurship is indeed imperative as it improves the overall standard of living. It also contributes to economic development, aids job creation which can produce a cascading effect in the economy and also results in higher levels of output and productivity. Through its ability to drive innovation by developing new solutions and services, new markets can be discovered and tapped into.
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