Before you pick up stones and force me into running for cover, bear with me. I’ll explain why I say so and upon what I base that.

And I immediately want to put the minds of those South Africans who are true entrepreneurs at rest and hasten to assure you, this post is not a reflection of you. You are the intrepid explorers of now and tomorrow’s uncertain waters and are, to a very large extent, the bright beacons of hope in this country’s morbid downward slide into economic chaos.

However, there are too few of you. Listen to this:

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2010 South Africa,1 this country was ranked 27th out of 59 countries, with an entrepreneurial rate of 8,9%, well below the average of 11,9%. Thus, rated as being at the lower end of the entrepreneurial totem pole.

Although there is a slight improvement in the figure from 5,9%(2009) to 8,9%, the GEM findings confirm South Africa’s trend of below entrepreneurial activity. According to GEM data, a country at South Africa’s stage of development would be expected to exhibit an entrepreneurial activity figure of about 15%, 60% higher than the actual current rate!

Okay, but why are too few entrepreneurs bad news for everybody, especially those who are NOT entrepreneurs?

Well, considering the state of not only the South African economy with its sky high fuel, food and energy prices, but the dire straits the global economy is in, with expectations of some coming global meltdown – economic and otherwise- this figure is not only disappointing, but extremely alarming.

You see, it is only entrepreneurial activity that is going to lift, not only the South Africans, but the worldwide population from its despair of prevailing joblessness and consequent poverty and other related ills.

Entrepreneurship is the main driver of new business activities in South Africa and worldwide. That in turn leads to job creation, economic growth and general prosperity.

What makes matters so much worse, is the growing unstable political climate exacerbating and fuelling existing feelings of economic impotence and racial tension through the instigation of unwise policies and statements.

For example: a huge percentage of previously advantaged people no longer feel welcome in their own country. This leads to the so called “brain drain” where potential white entrepreneurs permanently emigrate overseas in search of a better future elsewhere, since they no longer see such a future for them and their children in their home country.

Affirmative action and specific BROAD BASED BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (BBBEE) regulations that do not enhance the very much needed entrepreneurial culture, except for the Enterprise Development component, add fuel to the fire of the scarcity paradigm (effected by a perception of scarcity – a major component of which is the erroneous belief that economic progress is caused only by scarce capital or other physical resources).

Add to this the fact that many South Africans are dirt poor and live in squatter camps with very few basic necessities, many times even without clean running water.  This leaves you with all the classic ingredients of a smouldering time bomb waiting to explode. It’s not a question of if, but when.

I said all the foregoing because I wanted to create a large enough platform for adequately pitching the importance of the issue under discussion, namely, THE CRITICAL IMPORTANCE OF INCREASED ENTREPREURIAL ENDEAVOUR AS PREREQUISITE TO THE SURVIVAL OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN AND GLOBAL ECONOMIES.


We in South Africa need to learn to bake a bigger cake and to stop fighting for a bigger slice of a shrinking cake.

But why this depressing reality of a decidedly “un” entrepreneurial culture?

There are a number of factors contributing to this legacy of “un” entrepreneurial culture, the most notable one being that of a job seeking mindset prevailing under South Africans.

People are looking for jobs, not starting one of their own and in the process creating work for others!

This plague actually infests a large percentage of people in other countries too and this scourge is directly responsible for keeping scores of people “frozen” in their need and unable to break out of their prison of despair; economical and otherwise.

What fostered this plague?

Blame the industrial revolution. It can actually be blamed for a lot of ills! One of the only things that can’t possibly be pinned on it, is your ingrown toenail.

Whereas the emphasis was previously on skills in the pre-industrial age, it then shifted to the administrative capabilities necessary to manage the mass production of machinery and later the concomitant marketing. This focus on a “boxed” mode of doing became the dominant mentality in our school system, with its emphasis on left-brain activities which totally ignored the more creative and innovative right-brain kind of thinking.

This was further exacerbated by the home environment in which an already entrenched job-seeking mentality was at the order of the day. More and more people were programmed to believe that security and advancement lay in well-paid jobs.

And so the deadly job-seeking mindset that keeps on imprisoning untold numbers of people in its steely cage of hopelessness and despair came about.

So, what hope is there then for those who think “jobs…jobs”?!

Cheer up. This is all reversible.


Well, initially I thought I’d give you a couple of pointers and be done with it and there you go – hey presto- brand new thinking kicking in. New entrepreneur created. And I collect $200 each time when I pass start.

But no, I cannot do justice in a few words to the all-important process of reversing this terrible mindset from the horror it enforces upon people’s lives into freedom of thought and the inculcation of a different mindset, no not even in a few hundred words.

So give me some space here and in the next post I will try and tell you how to reverse this monster and liberate yourself from its enslaving clutches into new ways of doing and thinking.

For this, you need a complete paradigm shift. So we’ll start there.

Even better yet, contact us for details about the full treatment toward liberation from this slavish mindset. For even although I am going to address some issues, adequate space will not allow me to give you the full monty.

Lights please!

To those of you who are entrepreneurs, even in the smallest way possible, I salute you. And not only me, but everybody else who understands even the slightest smidgeon of the way economics work.

You are our lights in a dark and uncertain economic tunnel, the bright threads in the fabric that’s weaving the whole economic tapestry. You are the bright beacons of hope in the global wasteland of poverty, despair and failing expectations. Only you can truly take us forward.

May your tribe increase. Rapidly!

But be clear about this: true economic wealth is NOT produced in this era by the so called scarce resources like land, mineral riches etc. It is produced by ideas. Yes ideas.

Wrap your mind around that one. And in the meantime, get ready for some serious paradigm shifting.

Until next time,


© Elmarie Bouwer

Elmarie is a wordpreneur for the Entrepreneurial Business School (Pty) Ltd and a freelance creative writer, web writer and copywriter who is very interested in developing people to their maximum potential. Email her at ebouwer@ebschool.com



1. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor South Africa 2010.


2. Credit goes to Mauritz Bekker of EBS for all the knowledge about entrepreneurship and its development. Thanks Mauritz! You’re awesome.

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