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SBF Short Courses Will Address South African Entrepreneur Shortfall

School of Business and Finance launches new programmes in 2018 to boost entrepreneurship and financial literacy in South Africa

Nearly 80% of small businesses fail within five years - and with them, the hopes of a better future for many entrepreneurs. But with proper training and a better understanding of the forces that affect an SMME, clever entrepreneurs can beat the odds.

That’s why the School of Business and Finance (SBF) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has developed a series of short courses for 2018 that cover the theory and practice essential to entrepreneurial success - and also offer an opportunity to forge networks with successful entrepreneurs.

“These are practical, research-based courses,” says SBF Director, Professor Ricardo Peters, who believes the School has a crucial role to play in training a new generation of entrepreneurs and managers to tackle South Africa’s economic issues and unemployment challenges in South Africa – especially among youth.

“As we developed the courses, the focus was on key areas such as improving entrepreneurship orientation and improving business success for small businesses, because of the alarming failure rate of small businesses in South Africa,” he notes.

The SBF has designed three short courses specifically with aspiring entrepreneurs in mind: Innovative Mindset for Business, Starting Your Own Business, and Management Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs. The courses will be taught by business leaders alongside academics from the University, and are primarily aimed at those already out of formal education - people looking to start a business, or to help their existing businesses attain new heights of success.

These will start in February 2018 and will be offered at regular intervals during the year, depending on demand. These particular short courses will be presented in the form of classroom discussions and lectures (with supporting materials), with space for between 20 and 30 delegates. Each stand-alone course will provide a thorough look at a particular aspect of business and entrepreneurship - they can be taken together in any combination for a more holistic understanding.

  • In Innovative Mindset for Business, participants will learn the core of innovation as well as gain practical insights into how to nurture an innovative mindset, and apply the same to their particular business needs and environment.

  • Starting your own Business (to be held over six days) will teach the small-business start-up and management fundamentals that are needed to get their ventures off the ground. The goal is to offer practical operational guidance covering everything from business registration and how to access available local council and government support, to funding options and how to avoid the common pitfalls that small businesses typically fall prey to.

  • Finally, Management Fundamentals for Business, which also runs for six days, will look at the management fundamentals that any business would need to be successful, specifically in the South African business environment. The goal is to offer practical, operational guidance that covers the management functions.

But the crown jewel for 2018 will be the Future Leaders Entrepreneurship Programme (FLEP). Its curriculum is more comprehensive and will run for 10 months, from February to November each year.

Future Leaders is made up of ten modules, covering topics like Starting Your Own Business, Marketing and Competitive Advantage, Business Finance, and Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development.

Incorporating elements of the short courses, the programme is perfect for those about to leave school, students at university, recent graduates, aspiring entrepreneurs, and business practitioners, and starts right where entrepreneurs would: at defining their dreams and goals.

Financial Education for Societal Change

Peters paints the SBF against the socioeconomic backdrop of the Western Cape, and more specifically, the Cape Flats. Here, the legacy of apartheid is still felt at many levels, and many simply lack the skills needed for an economy that is increasingly moving away from manufacturing jobs, and increasingly towards a service-based economy.

At the recent 5th International UWC Entrepreneurship Conference, Peters described this unemployed and growingly disaffected youth segment as a “ticking time bomb”. Entrepreneurship is widely touted as the way out of this quagmire. But for entrepreneurs to have a chance to succeed, they do need essential skills.

Complementing the entrepreneurship programmes, a second focus for the SBF will be on financial literacy. This is not only in short supply among entrepreneurs, but also among households operating on tight budgets.

“Most people, especially those from impoverished backgrounds, think that financial literacy or managing finances is not important,” Peters notes. “One of the things that Apartheid did was disempower people by not teaching them how working with finances can benefit individuals, families and communities.”

With this in mind, the SBF will launch a Certificate in Wealth Management that will skill students as paraplanners – the behind-the-scenes people who assist financial planners and advisers in developing financial plans for clients.

Those who complete that course can, in time, follow it up with an Advanced Diploma in Management, with specialisation in financial planning, a programme that the SBF has been offering since 2015. (In turn, students can later move onto a postgraduate diploma in financial planning, the highest qualification in the financial planning stream.)

Hand in hand with the certificate, the SBF will launch a Financial Planning Clinic in 2018. Here the para-planners will provide financial planning advice to anyone in need, working under the close supervision of trained and experienced financial planners.

“So, students will not only be learning the theory, but also doing the real-life applied work,” says Peters. “Together, these initiatives will fit in with the School’s vision to prepare South Africans for the challenges posed by a rapidly-changing global economy.”