Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA)

The EDA is a pioneering and stimulating environment for small growing enterprises; building and regenerating entrepreneurial spirit amidst a culture of innovation and social change.

Click here for the Academy brochure

Please click here to download the recently launched research report on the Green Economy

Who we are

The Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA) is a unit within GIBS focused on supporting entrepreneurs. 

The Academy’s work extends across the entrepreneurial spectrum to include women, social, green, youth, and township entrepreneurs in informal and more formal, growing businesses. Through dynamic, tailor-made and practical business and entrepreneurship education, thought leadership and research, the Academy’s work encourages growth and sustainability in the more sophisticated sectors like retail, ICT, construction, engineering as well as the less formal sectors like spaza shops. The offering spans across the business lifecycle and includes those interested in pursuing a social entrepreneurial cause all in favour of growing sustainable businesses, creating further employment and social impact.

The Academy is built on the premise that entrepreneurial mind-set and attitude is as important as technical skill especially in the South African climate where entrepreneurial activity is said to be low for a developing nation. 

Unemployment is at 26.7% (2016) of the adult population; yet the number of people starting businesses due to having no other option for work (necessity entrepreneurship) is low. According to the GEM report, in South Africa 6.9% of the population aged 18-64 years are nascent or owner-managers of a small businesses (early stage entrepreneurial activity) and 2.5% are owner-managers of established businesses i.e. businesses that have paid salaries, wages and other payments for more than 42 months. That, coupled with a fear of failure perpetuates the absence of successful, sustainable entrepreneurs. Therefore, we believe successful entrepreneurs can be made (as opposed to the notion that entrepreneurs are born).

The National Development Plan projects that 90% of the expected 11 million jobs that need to be created by 2020 will be through small businesses. However, 80-90% of new businesses fail in the first two years, with some of the reasons for failure being lack of access to markets, capital and business skills. To address this challenge, the Academy’s primary focus is making business education accessible to start-up, micro and small business entrepreneurs, especially those who have been underserved or marginalised. In doing so, our purpose is to help small business owners to develop sustainable, efficient enterprises that are able to employ more people.

Since inception in 2012, the Academy has trained over 1,700 entrepreneurs. These people and their businesses generate over R1.7 billion in revenue, and a majority show consistent growth in revenue and jobs. 

The Network for Social Entrepreneurs (NSE) is a specialist unit within the EDA, focusing on developing and researching South Africa’s social enterprises. These are the organisations that generate both social and economic value, blending the social mission of charities with the approach and profit motive of business. The
NSE is the first university unit in the country focusing on social entrepreneurship and its year-long Social Entrepreneurship Programme is a pioneer in its field. The NSE leads major research projects including the first study to identify social enterprises in South Africa, and published The Disruptors – social entrepreneurs re-inventing business and society in 2016. 

Click here to view our impact across 1,700 entrepreneurs.

Our Offerings

The Academy offers clients and participants value through the following delivery structure:

Versatile, tailor-made programmes

  • Customised curriculum and support services are tailored to the industry and size of the business.
  • Programme content is taught in a relevant and engaging manner by industry specialists and educators with experience of being entrepreneurs themselves.
  • Curriculum and support services are developed from research and observation of the business needs.

Programme structure

The Academy designs programmes for entrepreneurs that are relevant to different stages of their business life-cycle:

Groundwork Programme (for start-up businesses) and Growth Advancement Programme (for scale-up businesses). Each programme is customised to address challenges entrepreneurs face at these specific stages. In doing so, the entrepreneur is able to mitigate factors that could affect the growth or sustainability of their business. Delegates on the programmes are exposed to seminars, workshops, field visits and team challenges. The support structure provides mentorship and coaching, business advisory support, peer learning opportunities and access to networking events.

Since the Academy offers truly customised programming, no two programmes are the same. Programme offering is nuanced based on the sponsor's objectives, the nature of sophistication of the entrepreneurs and the sector they represent. Therefore various programme lengths are offered from one-week boot camps (usually for start-up entrepreneurs) through to medium (3 – 4 month programmes) and year-long programmes that include an academic foundation and support services.

Mentorship and coaching for entrepreneurs

Support and advisory services help delegates apply concepts from the academic part of the programme to improve their business management skills and grow their business.

Mentorship and coaching sessions include face-to-face, telephonic and group discussion sessions that aim to support, develop and challenge delegates.

Structured programme for Social Entrepreneurs:

The Social Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP)  is the only yearlong programme on Social Enterprise in South Africa. Selection for the programme is highly competitive and applications open on 1 September 2017. Click here to apply.

Short programmes and workshops:

The EDA offers highly specialist programmes throughout the year, in response to entrepreneurs needs. 

These include:

  • Measuring Impact and returns
  • Finding Funding: a five-day programme introducing the different investment options available to social enterprises.
  • Livelihoods and markets: Co-delivered with the COADY institute, and offered annually.

Strengthening the eco-system

The EDA is a leader in strengthening the eco-system for entrepreneurship through events, discussions and debates. Our speaker list includes Muhammed Yunus, John Elkington, the Minister of Small Business Development, Hon Lindiwe Zulu, among others.

Our annual Festival of Ideas is open to anyone with a great concept that has a social and environmental impact. Delivered together with SAB Foundation, Barloworld and the British Council, the November event gives over R200,000 to highly talented, aspirant entrepreneurs, wanting to get their idea going.

 Contact us

Entrepreneurship Development Academy

Tel: (011) 771 4000 / (011) 771 4101

Email: academy@gibs.co.za

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