We know that Technical and Vocational Colleges (TVETs) are one of the key solutions to address the unemployment crisis in South Africa. However, Allan Gray Makers believes that entrepreneurial thinking is the missing ingredient that will enable all 50 public TVET colleges in the country to flourish.
Why does Allan Gray Makers exist?
Founded in 2019 by the Allan Gray Orbis Endowment, the vision of Allan Gray Makers is clear:
We attack poverty in South Africa by investing in, nurturing, creating an enabling environment for and increasing the number of responsible technical entrepreneurs who benefit society by helping to accelerate meaningful employment creation while embodying the values and behaviours of ethical leadership.
This vision is achieved through three pillars: the Makers Academy, Makers Hub, and the Makers Movement.
With August being TVET Month, it’s only fitting to highlight the recent work of the Makers Academy in the TVET sector. The Makers Academy aims to equip young people in TVET colleges to be entrepreneurial. This is achieved through on-the-ground entrepreneurial training at TVET colleges where students complete an online entrepreneurial course amplified by in-person facilitated sessions. No matter where the student finds themselves in their entrepreneurial journey, the course builds skills such as problem solving and resourcefulness that will equip them regardless of whether they choose to be an entrepreneur or not.
Setting young people up for success.
The course aims to activate entrepreneurial thinking and starts at the very beginning – assisting the student to understand themselves better. The students then learn how to identify problems in their immediate community and surroundings that they want to solve, how to ideate and assess possible solutions for this problem; they work towards formalising this in a business model using the Business Model Canvas tool. Finally, they learn to build a basic prototype and how to tell others of the business case for their solution.
Since the start of this training in 2020, the Makers Academy has delivered entrepreneurial training to over 70 students and we are excited to welcome our next cohort onto the programme at the beginning of September 2021. Our case for entrepreneurship at TVET colleges is clear and has the potential to make a huge impact in society. We believe that the skills that students learn at TVET colleges to become professionals such as plumbers, electricians, and boilermakers naturally lend themselves to entrepreneurship. With these skills, students can start their own businesses and start employing others but they need the business skills along with entrepreneurial thinking to be able to have the confidence and knowledge to do this.
The response from our participants has been an affirmation that our case for entrepreneurship is necessary and long overdue. In describing what they liked about the programme, one participant shared that, “the use of local business owners (in the programme content) really encourages one to start taking action into delivering a solution to a problem.” Another participant expressed that, “the programme was like a business school; it touches on almost, if not everything, you need to know to own a business.”
As we celebrate TVET month, let’s reflect on these words shared by a participant which highlight the impact and potential of the Allan Gray Makers:
“The way I was thinking before I started this course was different. I actually thought that everything about business you have to have money to start something. But now I know that I need to look around and see what I can do that my community needs and start from somewhere.”
This makes us even more excited to be advocates for entrepreneurship in the TVET ecosystem!