Leading change

Decolonisation of mind-set a precondition for economic transformation

Nthabeleng Mmako (Section Head: Entrepreneurship), Prof Thomas Mogale (ED: CEMS), Prof Sabelo Ndlovu (CMU), Prof Evelyn Chiloane-Tsoka, Dr Riaan Steenberg, Prof Joseph Chisasa, and Prof Nkoana Radipere.

“The dawn of democracy has detached the bemoaned cruelty and deprivation associated with the colonial powers and ushered in an unbounded opportunity for education, financial access, and free movement for the willing African entrepreneur.” Prof Evelyn Chiloane-Tsoka, lecturer at the College of Economics and Management Sciences (CEMS), was speaking at the seminar convened under the theme Decolonising the mindset of the entrepreneur in the 21st century at Unisa on 9 May 2017.

The seminar was attended by scores of academics from in and around institutions of higher learning in Tshwane and prominent entrepreneurs who have made their mark in business.

Chiloane-Tsoka said the decolonisation of mind-set is a precondition for economic transformation after the dawn of democracy. She said education is an important instrument that can help to produce entrepreneurs who will unlock the economic growth that will set the country onto a job creation path.

“Decolonising the mind-set through entrepreneurial activities in the 21st century is critical if the country is to strive for relevancy in addressing triple economic problems that challenge our space in SA. Therefore, the responsibility of creating such environment lies with higher education institutional top management, academics, and politicians to initiate desired change through a transformed entrepreneurial education,” she said.

The seminar comes at the time the country is downgraded into junk status by rating agencies because of policy uncertainty and low economic growth.  This has triggered various responses, including talks of inclusive economic growth and radical economic transformation in order to create more jobs and diversify the ownership patterns of the economy.

Chiloane-Tsoka also took a swipe at the education system saying it fails to prepare independent entrepreneurs and as a result it doesn’t properly equip students to be their own employers in a quest for the creation of wealth.

“The ongoing debate points out that our education systems are designed to turn out ‘good employees’, not ‘good entrepreneurs’. This needs our urgent commitment in changing the entrepreneurial mind-set in the 21st century. The basic principle should be to advance entrepreneur-oriented education instead of employee-oriented education. Such a paradigm is really about the human dimensions,” she said.

Dr Riaan Steenberg, a seasoned executive with global management experience, said Africa as a continent has massive potential and it must re-position itself as epicentre of entrepreneurship. He said Africa is pregnant with opportunities, which are exploited by other countries who have taken advantage of the wealth the continent possesses. He said for Africa to rise, it will require a new calibre of entrepreneurs with the correct mind set and not fearful to renegotiate the terms of trade with global players, and increase intra-trade amongst African countries.

Prof Sabelo Ndlovu from Change Management Unit (CMU) also weighed in on the discussion saying the discipline of entrepreneurship must be reviewed and it must be premised on the values of ubuntu, and must be enhanced as a multidisciplinary profession. He also cautions that entrepreneurs must take along society in their quest to create wealth and their contribution must bring development in communities.

*By Percy Mthombeni