Sunday, December 5, 2021

The misalignment of entrepreneurship

There seems to be heightened interest in entrepreneurship whenever government announces a particular funding programme or provides accessibility to a financing programme. Without question, finance is an invaluable instrument in meeting the start-up, cash flow and investment needs of a small and medium enterprise (SME).

However in the case of Botswana a trend has been observed on the trait of entrepreneurship suggesting that entrepreneurship is only actively pursued when an opportunity of funding arises as opposed to continuous exploitation of opportunities offered by gaps in the market.  

The implication of such is that finance tends to assume a larger and more important role in the entrepreneurial craft, which neglects the fundamental ingredients that in the long run sustain the business. These include passion and motivation, understanding of the market and ability to take risks by entrepreneurs.

Perhaps this trait is what has given rise to “tenderpreneurship” which is a label given to business models that rely on government tenders and contracts as a source of funding and business survival.  The problem with tenderpreneurship, as identified by Dr Keith Jefferies at David Magang’s book launch, is that it fails to address the underlying issue of lack of competitiveness.

Based on Jefferies’ observation, it can be deduced that the reason many businesses fail in Botswana may not necessarily lack of ingenuity but that rather lack of focus on gaining a competitive edge. To borrow from his remarks regarding the economy of Botswana, Dr Jefferies posits that the real causes of slowing growth are not a lack of government spending, but a lack of competitiveness. The same could be concluded about entrepreneurship. Given the fact that less emphasis is put in understanding the market in which a business is coined, it therefore follows that entrepreneurs miss the mark in gaining competitiveness.  The reality is that businesses that lack competitiveness do not stand a chance of survival.

The Telegraph recently learnt that The Business Place Botswana closed its doors due to an apparent lack of resources. TPB was funded and sustained by various private entities since its establishment in 2009. It served as a walk-in entrepreneurial information and referral centre which lent its support to both aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Over the years it also grew to become a resource centre that could provide valid observations and trends about entrepreneurship in Botswana. The closure of TBP widens the gap in setting budding and existing enterprises on the right path. It also stretches the paucity of information related to entrepreneurship.

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