SCHOOLS must teach children how to be entrepreneurs if South Africa is to turn around its economy, futurist Clem Sunter warned this week when he visited a school already following his advice.
A year ago Sunter advised Christel House, a combined primary and high school in Ottery, to start an entrepreneurship course for its pupils.
He returned to the school this week to meet some of the pupils involved in the Social Enterprise Academy, an entrepreneurship curriculum developed in the UK and running for the first time locally.
Sunter said it was essential for youngsters to work at entrepreneurship because the job scenario had changed.
“In South Africa, 50 percent of young people leaving school can’t find jobs. One of the reasons is that schools have not realised that work has changed.
“Most young people are either going to have to set up a small business or join a small business,” he said. Every school should be running a programme teaching children how to run a small business.
“Things in this country happen when they are bottom-up, not top-down.
“I want there to be a realisation among all these incredibly talented schools that they have to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and do it for their kids, rather than some politician deciding that this is what they need to do. I persuaded this school it was a good idea and I want to persuade other schools. I want to get people involved who run real businesses, who have real knowledge.”
Habiel Adams, economics and business studies teacher at Christel House, runs the academy for 50 pupils in grades 10 and 11.
Adams said the core difference between this programme and a business workshop was that the focus was not solely on profit. “Social entrepreneurship is built on people, profit and planet. That means there will be a profit, but it is going to a socio-economic issue the children decide on.
“Some said they want to raise funds for Christel House pupils at university who need money for textbooks. Beyond the bottom line, you are aware of people. They will make a difference.”
Adams said pupils would be encouraged to take the skills gained during the programme’s debut year and apply them beyond the classroom.
“If they see social entrepreneurship can work at school, they can take that up in their personal capacity too. It can be used to end the poverty cycle in the long run,” he said.
Some of the academy’s participants already believe entrepreneurship can shift their financial realities.
All pupils at Christel House are from poor households and receive full funding to complete secondary education.
Grade 10 pupil Ayabukwa Sombo, from Langa, said she lives in a hostel with her mother where “there’s too much noise”.
“Especially on weekends, when people get drunk. We see things that we should not see at our age. We are all in one room and it’s a small space. Entrepreneurship will help me better my situation. I want to make money but at the same time do something for people.”
Another Grade 10 pupil, Charanick Schrader from Manenberg, said she wanted to start a business to change her life. “I want to better the situation that I’m in now. Manenberg is facing a lot of social problems. I want to be able to take my family out of there.”
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, taking into account last year’s activity, shows that only 9.2 percent of working-age South Africans start their own businesses.
Its executive director, Mike Herrington, said policy makers should make funding sources available to entrepreneurs. He said an “enabling framework” was needed to “allow untapped entrepreneurial potential to emerge”.