Giving the gift of knowledge – entrepreneurs to give back this festive season

Gugu Mjadu
December is often associated with giving. While business and individual budgets may not be as generous as previous years’ due to challenging economic times forcing many to tighten their purse strings, often a monetary donation isn’t needed to make a meaningful impact, but rather the donation of time, guidance and knowledge. 

One particular area in South Africa that can benefit greatly from such a donation is entrepreneurship says Gugu Mjadu, spokesperson for the 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. Pointing to the Nedbank Giving Report, Mjadu says that not enough time is dedicated to upskilling aspiring entrepreneurs to start or grow their own businesses. The report revealed that only 10% of survey respondents supported entrepreneurship, up 2% from 2012, with the largest percentage of givers supporting social and community development (69%).

“The need to address South Africa’s social and community challenges is urgent and should be a priority, however, many of these issues are driven by unemployment levels. With Statistics SA reporting the highest level of unemployment since 2003 for the third quarter of 2016 (27.1%), more needs to be done to create job opportunities.”

As the country continues to grapple with its challenges, Mjadu says that entrepreneurs and small business owners have the opportunity to address South Africa’s largest problem – unemployment. “Already considered a major contributor to job creation, successful entrepreneurs have the potential to increase this contribution by donating their time to help aspiring entrepreneurs grow their business, with the goal of them one day employing their own staff.”

While entrepreneurial aspirations and opportunities are abound in the country, many South Africans aren’t perceived to have the entrepreneurial know-how and skills to capitalise on these and start or grow a business.

“Whilst rewarding, entrepreneurship is not always an easy career and often many are ill prepared for the challenges associated with running an own-business. Successful business leaders and entrepreneurs thereby have the ability to give back in a meaningful way by mentoring, teaching or promoting innovation to aspiring entrepreneurs and equipping them with the knowledge and expertise required to run a successful business.”

Mjadu says that this can be implemented by hosting community workshops, offering mentorship to an individual or group of talented individuals, or even allowing a young entrepreneur to occupy your office space and shadow your role.

Mjadu adds: “If more businesses and entrepreneurs could pay it forward and support fellow entrepreneurs, not only will it cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs, but assist in creating future employment opportunities and alleviating some of the country’s social problems.

“More so, if the mentality of investing in entrepreneurship could be adopted year-round, a nation of change-makers can be built,” concludes Mjadu.