PORT Elizabeth’s Ansulene Prinsloo watched her eldest son, Berno Potgieter, complete his degree in chemical engineering, only to see him quickly abandon the field after not finding a job, redirecting his efforts towards building a successful technology start-up company.
For Prinsloo, who had spent years working as a university lecturer, it was a “huge learning curve” – and a turning point.
After years of passionately mentoring students towards completing their Chartered Accountancy degrees, she now passionately develops school-age entrepreneurs through the national Young Entrepreneurs programme – and has just established an “edu-entrepreneurship” hub in Walmer, as a base for similar programmes, which encourage youngsters to be creative innovators and future leaders.
“Preparing children to open their own businesses one day is a life skill. Whether they become engineers, lawyers, electricians or whatever, they need to be equipped with the skills to set up and run their own business,” said Prinsloo, who is launching the unique hub, 87 on Main, on August 21, to coincide with World Entrepreneurs’ Day.
“Entrepreneurship is so much more than playing ‘shop-shop’. It’s so much more than the week-long market days that many schools run. Rather, the focus should be on helping kids to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, by teaching them to think differently and creatively, to see opportunities where others don’t, so they can survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and challenging world, no matter what life throws at them,” she said.
Children in the Young Entrepreneurs programme – aimed at children aged from seven to 18 – spend half the year setting up their own product-based businesses, and the other half honing their financial literacy skills, learning about cash flow, taxes, saving and investing – and even touching on subjects like fair trade and gambling.
Several of the children have stretched beyond the Young Entrepreneurs programme, by participating at the Locally Yours market. Prinsloo is now determined to help them expand their businesses even further by assisting them to establish an online presence.
“These are skills that are not being taught in schools. They are also skills that most adults don’t know,” said Prinsloo. “But given the country’s high unemployment rate, these skills are essential.
“One child’s father runs his own radiography business. He has sent his child to Young Entrepreneurs to enable him to learn how to run a business, so that he can ultimately take over the business.
“We are preparing children to cope with the demands of the future, not for specific careers.”