South Africa’s small business failure rate of almost 80% within the first three years means the average entrepreneur’s chance of starting a business, growing it and creating much-needed jobs is painfully slim. The trend is similar across most of Southern Africa.

I have spent the last three years focusing on the question of why small businesses fail and why certain entrepreneurs are more successful than others. There seems to be little or no research in Africa dealing with the actual entrepreneur, and why some succeed and others fail. Most of the research deals with the environment and the actual business.

What should be done to strengthen MSMEs?

We should strengthen MSMEs by strengthening the core… the actual entrepreneur. Having spoken to dozens of entrepreneurs, I have discovered that those who become successful share similar personal characteristics. Thus, it seems likely that about 40% of the success of small scale businesses depends on the actual entrepreneur.

What can we learn from this?

We should initiate a new approach to entrepreneurship development which involves the personal development of the actual entrepreneur, with the objective of transferring the skills required to succeed in business. Cash flow training is important, but so is entrepreneurship focused personal development, personal initiative programmes, and other personal skills.

Please contact Agnes on agnes@adgeafrica.com for more information of our Personal Development Programme for entrepreneurs.