A massive revolution is taking place in entrepreneur education, with intended use of Web 3 technologies, investment in data science, and shifts in skill priorities redefining the future landscape of entrepreneur education in South Africa.
According to the Future Entrepreneurs Report by the Heavy Chef Foundation, the nonprofit arm of entrepreneur learning platform heavychef.com, data has become increasingly important to business leaders, and a clear transition is occurring from passive content consumption to complete ownership and control of data. The report, produced in partnership with Xero, shows that 69% of entrepreneurs surveyed are currently learning about data science, a fundamental skill for future entrepreneurs.
The report finds that advances in cloud services are poised to make many hard skills obsolete, and redefine the skills entrepreneurs will need in the future to make entrepreneurial education equitable.
“These learning habits are mapping onto long-expected shifts in technologies that have flown under the radar for some time, but are now speeding their way into the mainstream,” says Louis Janse van Rensburg, CEO of the Heavy Chef Foundation. “This trend is quickly manifesting itself due to disconnected entrepreneurs who experience lack of access to learning opportunities offered by formal institutions of learning.”
Lukhanyo Neer, chairman of the Foundation, says: “By combining deep datasets of statistics with an intelligent analysis of the business leading “chefs” interviewed every week, this report takes a significant step forward to bring the future to the here-and-now.”
It also reveals that entrepreneurs who understand how to navigate niche online communities could find themselves faced with countless new business opportunities. Fred Roed, CEO of heavychef.com says: “This report should spark much-needed hope for South African entrepreneurs as it reveals that the tools needed to make the long-strived for bottom-up change, are ready and available for use.”
To compile the report, the Heavy Chef Foundation over the last four years researched the learning habits of 9,150 entrepreneurs in South Africa across 18 demographic segments, and conducted 340 in-depth interviews.
The report provides 10 valuable insights on how entrepreneurs learn, the role of automation in closing the skills gap, rising start-ups in specific industries, fringe communities and future learning, how entrepreneurs define themselves, long-term trends and critical challenges, increased sophistication of community organisations, shifts in technology, the role of mentors, new business we’ve never seen and why start-ups are the definitive learning school for future entrepreneurs.
Key highlights from the report, as provided by the Heavy Chef Foundation:
The Shift –Changes to the internet and web technologies influence how society functions, including how entrepreneurs are learning. Soon, entrepreneurs will design and direct their own development destinities.
The Skills –South African entrepreneurs rate their leadership skills as top-class, followed by critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities. However, financial management, IT and sales are skills that largely elude entrepreneurs, particularly in developing nations. These hard skills problems are expected to be solved due to new advancements in cloud services.
The Industries –The constantly changing world presents entrepreneurs with new business opportunities, resulting in a mass movement towards unique categories of start-ups. Low barriers to entry and people’s growing preference for non-traditional learning create limitless business opportunities. Entrepreneurs with the right skills can leverage emerging technologies.
The Culture –Millions of tiny online communities populate the internet. Built around hyper-specific interests, they are hotbeds of connection and learning. Future entrepreneurs will seek out intense learning opportunities within these communities using a well-defined culture of engagement. In this way, fringe communities are influencing where and how entrepreneurs of the future will learn.
The Self –Entrepreneurs live in an era of almost limitless career and identity options. However, this freedom can give rise to a state of anxiety as people agonise over the implications of our choices. This means that future entrepreneurs will need to define themselves in society. Encouragingly, research is showing a trend towards entrepreneurs understanding the role they play in society, rather than the business they chose to start.
The Barriers –Long-term trends are pointing to critical challenges entrepreneurs are likely to face, including their relationship with institutions and economic turmoil. However, techno-optimists believe that ultimately technology will be able to solve any problem the future presents. In this respect, entrepreneurs in general are short-term pessimists but long-term optimists. Research suggests that their biggest battle is within – looking after their mental wellbeing.
The Institutions –Informal knowledge networks empowered by decentralised technologies are poised to become the preferred source of learning for disconnected entrepreneurs. There is a big move towards community-based organisations that are becoming more organised and sophisticated. These include a growing number of different places of learning.
The Mentors –Entrepreneurs frequently testify to the immense value the correct mentor has on their personal growth and business. Mentors help more than individuals. Like in the other areas, shifts in technology are putting a fresh new emphasis on the role of mentors.
The Ideas– The mainstream mass market is becoming outdated. Niche online communities provide fringe offerings aimed fiercely at loyal customers. This presents entrepreneurs with untold options to offer weird and wonderful things, creating new businesses, the likes we have seen before. Business opportunities for entrepreneurs are constantly being redefined.
The Team – An overwhelming majority of SMMEs are only one-person businesses. These, especially at start-up stage, are very hesitant to employ people due to perceived risks. This operates in the context of extreme levels of unemployed youth who are looking for work and skills to start a business of their own. The opportunity is for small businesses to offer formal internship programmes, supported by new technologies, to disconnected youth.
Janse van Rensburg says: “The fact is that entrepreneurship will be the only route towards making a living for many South Africans in the face of the inertia inherent in many of our public institutions. This puts an incredible amount of responsibility on our shoulders to usher in the new future by taking the right steps now and adapt to environmental, social and technology changes.”