South Africa + Entrepreneurship = ECONOMIC LIBERATION

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I remember watching BackChat on ENCA, and during that episode, the topic of discussion was the Fees Must Fall saga, and I say “saga” with great intent, one I’ll decipher at a later stage. The conversation was heated, and at one point, it escalated to them speaking about the economic stance of our country, both in present terms, and those based on future projections. Then one guy made a comment I’ll never forget, he said that South Africa will never be able to adequately compete with global markets like China, because our education system doesn’t teach its youth to be creators, to embrace entrepreneurship. At that point, I sat up and gave a resounding “ABSOLUTELY” feeling as though I was right in studio when he dropped that bomb.

I’ve since realized not only how true that statement is, but more importantly how scary it is. Deciphering the comment made about the encouragement of creativity, or the lack thereof in terms of entrepreneurship, means that South Africans are damned to a life of being consumers, spending away all we have to get what we need. This also means that employment rates are not about to drop anytime soon, because going on the flooding into higher education institutions for graduation sake, we are all looking like packs of K9’s getting ready to go for blood in a dog fight.

Getting educated, to whatever level is not wrong, in fact there are no setbacks in pursuing that, the problem here is the common trend taking over South Africa, were more and more people are ‘just’ happy to get jobs, or are satisfied working for “the man” all their lives. When trying to uncover the root cause of such mindsets, with the spontaneous sprouting of entrepreneurial-conscious people far and in-between, it is safe to say that this goes far beyond the neglect imposed by our current government, but by the government that ruled over our presiding government. During the apartheid era, black people more especially were satisfied with whatever work they managed to get, because the system marginalized them so much, they were reduced to beggars in their own country. The greatest accomplishment any black family would have had at that time was seeing their black child gain University acceptance, or approval to start work at a mine, underground.

Such mentality has seeped through the ages into our time, where we also unknowingly, perpetuate the behavior of past, oppressed South Africans. But to what end? What needs to be done now? I strongly believe that the answer to those questions lie in entrepreneurship. We need to create jobs, not for government to open up jobs for us, because let’s be honest, those jobs are already occupied by government official’s children, cousins, siblings and friends who’ve all managed to pull on the right strings. We need to trust ourselves enough to turn ideas, into businesses. How?

I personally bear a huge grudge on anyone who believes that the mark of having made it in life lies in office work, and that only “select people” can come up with brilliant ideas that turn into profitable businesses. First rule in entrepreneurship, there are no bad ideas, but rather all ideas are controlled by target markets. That is why, when listening to South African entrepreneurial titans like Lebo Gunguluza and Vusi Thembekwayo, the story behind their genesis into the entrepreneurial space is to always start where you are. Anyone, willing to take on the life of business-creating, a.k.a entrepreneurship, can make it happen, by adapting to the work required (and this is the part on one else can help you with, but only you), but truly the first step is getting over your thoughts, its fears of disappointment, of “someone else tried this and failed”, or even those “I’ve failed so many times, maybe this thing isn’t for me”. The space of business-creating is not easy, and it requires a whole lot, a lot of research, a lot of reading, a lot of learning and unlearning, including a continuous morphing of self, until you strike gold.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, I’m an advocate for business-creating, and I can go as far as saying, anyone can become a business-creator, it is not for a select few, or those with a particular educational background, you don’t even have to have a history of entrepreneurship in your family. It comes down to it basic description, of establishing a need, and creating services to cater for it. The rest lies in hard work, and an even harder exterior, to allow yourself to fail as many times as you have to and still desire to make things happen for yourself, it is the hard work and resilience that separates the boys from the men, so to say.

I am an entrepreneur, and my journey started in 2012. I can proudly say that I’ve had five businesses in that time, all of which have since folded.  But even at that, I’ve learnt a great deal from all my business ventures, and apparently every entrepreneur will fail seven times before establishing their winning business venture, so five down, a little more to go, maybe (here’s hoping). The true essence of business-creation is to liberate oneself from independence to an already exhausted external force, and in our countries sake, that will have to be the government. It is also about going against the grain, to create in a space that looks so congested, enough to liberate yourself financially, and all those who will follow your light. So if you’re an entrepreneur or are interested in business-creation, by virtue of reading this, let’s all take a silent vow to keep tenacity and resilience alive in our quest for an entrepreneurial breakthrough, to continue to create,  even after we’ve struck gold!

Moshibudi Thatego Madia

Senior Writer for Genius Level Click on bottom link to see other articles I've written...

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