Entrepreneurship contributes to sustainable economic growth.

Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on the power of entrepreneurship. With the agility and innovation that so often defines this sector of the economy, entrepre-neurial businesses have been able to pivot in order to supply the products and services people need during this time.

Of course, this is not to suggest that entrepreneurs and start-up business owners haven’t been affected. In fact, in most cases, they have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and many studies suggest that up to 70% of small businesses won’t survive. Those that do, however, are those that have rallied, that have flexed their creative muscles and found opportunities amid the chaos. They are likely not only to survive but to thrive.


UJ’s Centre for Entrepreneurship seeks to position itself at the forefront of entrepreneurship by creating initiatives and programmes that promote entrepreneur-ship in South Africa, and by connecting students and entrepreneurs to relevant ecosystems. At its core, it is about developing a sustainable economy, one in which individuals can be self-reliant and successful without needing to rely on traditional employment – something that the pandemic has shown to be so very fragile.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship’s mentorship programme is run by Ian McCloy, who, after establishing over 22 businesses across Africa, threw himself into helping young entrepreneurs, primarily at UJ’s Soweto campus.

“We believe that you can’t wait for government and big business to create change,” he says. “Instead, the best approach is to develop local and national economies from the bottom up by nurturing young fledgling businesses. Many major companies had their beginnings in bedrooms and garages, after all.”

Universities churn out degreed people who often battle to find meaningful work, Ian explains. Those who do succeed are those who use the technology at their disposal, who develop innovative solutions, who cut out the middle man and who develop their own supply chains and networks. “We need to equip entrepreneurs with the skills they need to create these sorts of businesses,” he adds. Of course, we need to do this now more than ever.


When the world recovers from Covid-19, it’s likely that it will be more entrepreneurial and entrepreneur friendly than it was before. This experience has reminded us that nothing is certain, and that the businesses that can react quickly and flexibly are going to be the ones to succeed. Perhaps we are starting to rethink the world of business and commerce.

The best approach is to develop local and national economies from the bottom up by nurturing young fledgling businesses.”

Ian McCloy, head of the mentorship programme at UJ’s Centre for Entrepreneurship