Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA)

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

The Entrepreneurship Development Academy is the heart of entrepreneurial development and thinking at GIBS. The Academy specialises in understanding entrepreneurship, enabling business owners to understand the environment within which they work, and thrive within it. We work with entrepreneurs in both the formal and informal sectors, at various stages of their business development, from start-up through to high-impact growth. The Academy has an extensive research portfolio, leading the first national mapping study of social enterprises in South Africa, and with numerous publications in the green economy, social and youth entrepreneurship. 

Who we are


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

Since inception in 2012, the Academy has trained over 2,300 entrepreneurs. These people and their businesses generate over R3.2 billion in revenue, and a majority show consistent growth in revenue and jobs. 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 29% 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 10.6% of the population aged 18-64 years are nascent or owner-managers of a small businesses (early stage entrepreneurial activity) and 2.15% 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 EDA'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.

Our Social Entrepreneurship efforts are focused 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. Our work in this sector positioned us as the first university unit in the country focusing on social entrepreneurship and our year-long Social Entrepreneurship Programme is a pioneer in its field. The team has  led 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 and The Disruptors 2 in 2018.

Our Reports

Click here to view our impact across 1,700 entrepreneurs

Click to download our research report on the Green Economy - 2017

Our Latest Media Releases

Click to view a synopsis of our Enterprise and Supplier Development Dialogue

Click to view our thought leadership piece in the ESD Handbook 2019

Click to view our latest Business Day Live article

Click to view our latest article in Acumen

Click to view our latest feature in Accountancy SA

Click to view our latest City Press article

Our Offerings

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

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 EDA offers truly customised programming, no two programmes are the same. Programme offerings are 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 year-long programme on Social Enterprise in South Africa. Selection for the programme is highly competitive and applications are currently open for our 2020 programme.

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, Lynton Peters, Bonang Mohale, Mbali Nwoko, Phillipa Geard, Lesego Semenya, John Elkington, and Farah Fortune, 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, the November event offers prize money to highly talented, aspirant entrepreneurs, wanting to get their idea going.

Our Impact to date

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Contact us

Faiza Mallick - Marketing Manager

Entrepreneurship Development Academy

Tel: (011) 771 4000 / (011) 771 4347

Email: mallickf@gibs.co.za

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