The legacy of apartheid plays a big part in this and serves as an obstacle to successful small-business creation. In appreciating the capacity of SA to create the numbers of small businesses the government talks about, it is worth considering the following:
- The lack of good education with the prerequisite numeracy and literacy skills for small-business owners from previously and still disadvantaged race groups prevents them from grasping the necessary organisational and administrative skills required to take their businesses to the next level;
- The "baaskap" mentality of a large percentage of the previously and still advantaged minorities, who don’t want to get their hands dirty;
- The privileged status previously enjoyed by white South Africans meant that over the past 50 years there was job reservation and there was hardly a school-leaver who wasn’t guaranteed a job with a bank, an insurance company or the state. A widespread culture of entrepreneurial thinking wasn’t necessary and, accordingly, it never developed;
- For the previously disadvantaged, apartheid produced a similar result, where every imaginable obstacle was placed in their way, making it impossible to succeed, leading to a generational void in entrepreneurial thinking; and
- To be entrepreneurial, one has to be creative and develop new markets. We do not have this collective skill.
Creative and entrepreneurial thinking is a seed that is sown subliminally at an early age. A young child growing up and exposed to sport in a sporting family will most likely develop into a good sportsman and a child growing up in a similar creative entrepreneurial environment has a better than even chance of success.
The government believes it can "create entrepreneurs and jobs" by allocating vast resources to various agencies providing guidance to small businesses, financing and corporate social investment initiatives. It is further mistaken in the belief that tax breaks and attempting to reduce red tape will encourage entrepreneurs.
However Mr Mantell does not provide much of a solution for the dire need for entrepreneurs and job creators in the economy, which is what we need right now.