Masicorp has been delighted to host Idaishe Mandinyenya from the University of Edinburgh for the past two months. Ida has been undertaking research work on business entrepreneurship in Masiphumelele as part of her MSc course in International Development. Last week she gave her feedback to us last week and left us with some options on how best to develop this area of our work.
Although Masicorp is primarily an educational organisation, efforts have been made to also support new entrepreneurs with their start-up process as well as support existing businesses. There have been successes, such as Nonny’s Bakery and Nondeyebo Art, but overall this is an area where Masicorp has made only limited progress, and Ida’s recommendations will prove to be a valuable aid to our future progress.
South Africa generally has a low rate of business entrepreneurship compared to other sub-Saharan African nations. In addition there is very little business permanency, with many start-ups focusing on perceived “easier’ activities in retail and hospitality. There are very specific social realities in a community such as Masiphumelele, where access to start-up capital is virtually non-existent and the distance to markets in the city is exacerbated by the cost of the limited transport options.
Ida clearly identified that two types of innovator typically exists. Opportunity entrepreneurs are the creative individuals who have unique ides and the genuine commitment to grow them into a business that can provide employment opportunities in the community. Ideally they would be the individuals that should benefit from any business support programme. However, necessity entrepreneurs are more common in Masiphumelele, where the need to acquire income to meet daily needs outweighs the desire to build a fully sustainable business.
While she was in Cape Town, Ida took the time to visit other areas of the city where successful township businesses were thriving. In particular she mentioned the well-known Department of Coffee in Khayelitsha as an example of what can be achieved. Together with her local research assistant Ida visited the six existing business supported by Masicorp in Masiphumelele. She undertook semi-structured interviews to gain on overview of how the existing support was being utilised, and how it could be improved to help them move towards some of the best examples she had seen elsewhere.
The future challenge for Masicorp will be focused around selecting appropriate entrepreneurs for our programme and guiding them toward the government support that is available, as well as providing experienced business mentors from within our team and their contacts. It is fair to say that our existing support has often been reactive and provides support for immediate needs – such as simply providing a sign for our most recent beneficiary, Daniel Upholstery.
We now have a new programme manager in place and thanks to Ida we also now have some guidance on how to structure this area of our work. We wish Ida well with the rest of her studies, and hope to be able to report back on some more business success stories in the near future.