Not everyone is an entrepreneur, startups need staff too

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Not everybody has the skillset to become an entrepreneur, and more focus needs to go on ensuring existing businesses have access to the talent and resources that can help them grow.

This is according to Antoinette Prophy, founder and managing director at the 88 Business Collective, which accelerates Western Cape-based, female-owned businesses.

Speaking at the AHUB startup event in Cape Town last week, Prophy said there was a need to find existing entrepreneurs – not new ones – and move them away from traditional businesses and into 4.0.

“Entrepreneurs are born, and it is about finding them and nurturing them. Let’s not make everyone an entrepreneur. We need people to work for us. But a lot of people are intrapreneurial,” she said.

In order to help such businesses, Prophy believes there needs to be a more proactive push get people of colour into the developer space.

“Education obviously plays a part in that. But for me it is about building an ecosystem that harnesses that. The matrics from a coding school, where are they going from here? There needs to be a cohesive flow from one spot to the next,” she said.

“Our government is not coming to the party so much. For me the South African government, at a national level, we still have a long way to go. We are giving kids tablets but the content is archaic. We in South Africa are lagging behind.”

However, fellow panellist Bunmi Banjo, head of brand and digital skills for Africa at Google, said she believes the continent is on the right track.

“We are aware what the problem is. Governments are aware this is a challenge that needs to be addressed,” she said.

“Policymakers want to learn. Education is key across the board. If we put ourselves in the shoes of the government, they are trying to get elected for the next cycle. If you are running for office you want results this year or the year after.”

Prophy said from an education perspective Africa still has a long way to go, and there is a lot more government could do to help small businesses thrive.

“There are unnecessary hurdles and hoops to jump through. Government can solve things. They have done good, very macro things, but when it comes to the grassroots, these are real,” she said. “At grassroots, not enough is being done. I want to see a female entrepreneur in Mitchells Plain running a tech business using fibre. When is that going to happen?”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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