-Mauritz Bekker-

-Do we really understand the role this phenomenon played in our survival on this planet?-

Entrepreneurship, the driver of our economic wellbeing was regrettably marginalised during the relative prosperity we experienced during the industrial faze of the economy. The best way to explicate this statement is to take a trip through the economical development memory lane.

The economic development process probably started when ancient entrepreneurs created bartering as an economic need satisfying process.  For example, an entrepreneur with the abilities to make effective knives would barter his offerings for other need satisfying products/services.  However, optimum trade with this bartering process had a serious limitation.  Trading could not take place in cases where demand and supply did not correspond – the knife maker did not want what someone else was producing, and was therefore not willing to trade.  To overcome this limitation, money was invented.  Entrepreneur “A” could now sell her/his offerings to a willing buyer, earn money and buy from “B”.

With the introduction of money, a new method of determining the values of products and services had to be invented.  In a simple bartering transaction, values were determined by consensus between the bartering parties.  Auctions were probably then invented to determine values of products and services through mass consensus.  In the auction process, the price of a product/service was determined by demand and supply, which could be viewed as a process of mass consensus regarding price determination. It was only after the discovery of money, the introduction of auctions where demand and supply determine prices that entrepreneurship activities started to get momentum.

The economy of the world evolved through major phases, starting with the extraction phase where Man discovered how to extract metal from rock.  This phase was followed by the artisan phase where, man made artefacts from the various metals.  The artefact phase was followed by the industrial phase (late 18th and early 19th century), which had a huge impact on the general standard of living.  In this phase, entrepreneurs managed to build machines, which were capable of producing in mass.  As machines replaced artisans and workers, many people lost their jobs.  The demand for crafty hands was fortunately soon replaced by a huge demand for administrative skills.

The next phases to follow emerged due to increased competition between mass producers.  Marketing (principles and concepts) was invented by entrepreneurial producers to create a competitive advantage, and to gain market share. The marketing phase then paved the way for customisation and niche marketing.

The so-called new economy emerged when information technology replaced many administrative skills.  This is a mirror image of what happened during the industrial revolution when manual jobs were taken over by machines

At this point, producers started searching for new markets.  These “new” markets have also reached saturation, and the “new economy” is now in need of revolutionary new products/services and therefore new economic solutionsThese solutions are in the form of goods/products/services, created to solve problems for customers in various target markets.

Real entrepreneurs are, however, only individuals who manage to create new and/or better “economic solutions” for the market. New venture creators are definitely viewed as real entrepreneurs, but many other individuals could also fit this description. These individuals were and still are responsible for the improvement of the standard of living of mankind.

This new economic phase will require more lateral (intuitive) thinking, not only vertical (logical) thinking, which was perceived to dominate during the industrial economy.  New revolutionary products and services need to be created.

Education institutions are slow to adapt and are still producing “administrators” and not entrepreneurs. While entrepreneurship is the key-driving force in the “new economy”. Even in the United States was entrepreneurship as recent as 2000 not fully accepted as an academic discipline. In Europe entrepreneurship was trying to find its home and efforts are fragmented and driven by external actors instead of by the education system self.

We therefore need a “fundamental rethinking of what education systems are actually supposed to deliver”. This factor is also indorsed in GEM report (2009:88) by the following statement: “The South African experts raised concerns about the level of entrepreneurial education delivered by the education system”.

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