I came across this article whilst doing some Internet research. It is worth reading and I would value your comments on what your views are. This is an answer to the question: Is a PhD losing its value? by Scott E. Fahlman, Professor Emeritus, Carnegie Mellon, LTI and CSD. Answered Sep 25, 2015 · Upvoted by John L. Miller, B.S., M.S., PhD with 25 years industry experience.
In my field, computer science, back in the 1980s, a PhD from a good school used to give you a very good shot at getting a faculty position in at least a decent school. Jobs at the very best universities have always required something special, but the field was young and fast-growing, and a lot of schools were trying to build up their core faculty. Now CS is more mature, and most departments have a lot of tenured faculty and are growing more slowly, if at all. I think that a lot of other technical fields have a similar temporal profile.
The good news is those geezers from the 1980's will be starting to retire soon, and industry is hiring some senior faculty away, creating openings.
Post-docs in CS used to be pretty rare, but now there is a large pool of people doing post-docs, waiting for a shot at a faculty opening. So even if you have a good PhD, you may have to wait in line for a while, and won't be earning a lot while you're in the holding pattern. So the PhD itself is worth less in this respect: if you do get a faculty job, it may not be immediate, and you've lost a few years of high earnings.
There seems to be less real, long-term research going on in companies these days, and my impression is that a lot of companies would be happy hiring mostly people with masters degrees. A few still put a premium on a PhD degree, but maybe not enough to make the added years of research apprenticeship worthwhile. A lot of the action is at startups that mostly couldn't care less about whether you have a PhD degree.
Finally, as you mention, there are more lower-tier universities churning out PhDs. In the academic world, these degrees have never been worth much, and now they are worth even less -- supply and demand. Of course, if you do some great research, you can overcome the poor reputation of the school that granted your PhD, but you will have more to prove. That degree, by itself, won't open a lot of doors.
The Festival of e-Learning officially started yesterday. The Festival of eLearning is an opportunity to deepen the network of e-Learning experts at various levels. It is being hosted by a team from e/Merge Africa. e/Merge Africa is a network of eLearning professionals in Africa. The Festival of e-Learning started with a keynote that was presented by Dr. Jessica Aguto, conveyor of the Master’s in Instructional Design at Makarere University in Uganda. Dr. Aguto spoke on “Capacity Building for Teachers: The Weakest Link in Transforming ICT integration in Education". Her presentation brought out the stages of ICT integration as being:
Emerging stage: Focus is on learning basic ICT skills and identifying ICT components.
Applying stage: Teachers use ICT for professional purposes, focusing on improving their subject teaching in order to enrich how they tech with a range of ICT applications.
Infusing stage: Schools incorporate ICT across the curriculum. ICT infuse all aspects of teachers’ professional lives in such ways as to improve student learning a management of learning.
Transforming stage: Teachers and other support staff regard ICT as a natural part of the everyday life of their institutions, which have become centres of learning for their communities.
Dr. Aguto applied this to the participants by asking where we were in the above stages of ICT integration. She further spoke of capacity building at three levels i.e. individual, institutional and national/environmental. She stressed that for individual capacity building, continuous professional development as opposed of a ‘one-off’ 2-3 days workshop was more desirable and helpful. With regards to institutional capacity building she posed these questions:
How is creativity rewarded?
Does the institution have a strategy for capacity building for teachers and learners in the use of the new ICTs?
For national capacity building, Dr. Aguto stressed the need for teachers to be aware of the environment in which the institution operates by considering what national policies provided the framework for their operations. She then gave examples of ICT integration projects at the Makarere University. Dr. Aguto noted the challenges of some learning materials not being interactive at Makarere University and minimal tutor online presence.
She highlighted some of the reasons for failure in ICT integration as being:
Institutions sometimes focusing on technology acquisition;
Equating technical skills to knowledge and skills in ICT integration;
Poor alignment of policies; and
She concluded the presentation by recommending that there be:
Reinforcing of institutional capacity;
Continuous teacher development in pedagogical and digital competencies;
Integration ICT into the curriculum and assessment arrangements.
A time of questions and comments followed the presentation. The programme for the Conference can be found on:
The participation of women entrepreneurs in the economy can be considered from the role of entrepreneurship in economic development. Entrepreneurship helps not only in increasing national per capita income but also in initiating and constituting change in the structure of business and society. The change is accompanied by growth and increased output, which allows more wealth to be divided by the various participants (Hisrich, Peters and Shepherd, 2005:15). Since entrepreneurship plays an important role in the economic development of nations, it is important to study the role that women entrepreneurs play in contributing to this development. In other words would the absence of women entrepreneurs from business have a significant impact on the economy?
Hisrich et al. (2005:69) observe that there has been significant growth in female self employment, with women now starting new ventures at a higher rate than men. In the United States, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of all businesses and are staying in business longer. This observation has implications for Zambias entrepreneurship development. How does the growth rate of entrepreneurship compare between men and women? What could be the push or pull factors for women in becoming entrepreneurs? The observation also has implications for the survival rates of women run enterprises. Do women entrepreneurs stay in business longer compared to men entrepreneurs? The observation of the higher rates in women starting new ventures could suggest more supportive policies by the US government for women entrepreneurs.
Research on gender differences in entrepreneurial characteristics and performance has received considerable attention in recent years. This attention has come about in part over concerns that social constraints and/or discrimination put women at a disadvantage in pursuing entrepreneurial endeavours thereby creating a gender gap in the supply of entrepreneurs or in their success rates (Mueller, 2004:201). Many policy makers assert that entrepreneurship is a viable route to economic advancement for women and minorities. As a result, a host of government programmes exist that encourage entrepreneurship by these two groups (Robb, 2002:383).
From the above literature it can be noted that there is need for policy makers and other stakeholders to address the constraints faced by women entrepreneurs so that they can fully contribute to the national economic development. The literature shows that since there are a growing number of entrepreneurial women, they need support so as to compete on an equal basis with men entrepreneurs as they are capable of performing as well and better than some men. In a study done by Gundryph, and Posig (2002:67) it was found out that 25 33 percent of all businesses in the formal economy were headed by women worldwide. These women-owned firms were represented in all sectors with concentration in retail and service sectors.
The International Labour Organisation conducted a study in 2002 on Zambian Women Entrepreneurs that concentrated on women operating in the trading, services, manufacturing and multi-sectoral sectors. The study did not state how many of the businesses in the Zambian economy were owned by women. Currently, such information is not clearly known. Such information is important in order to help policy makers provide appropriate support to the various players in the economy.
A number of postgraduate students struggle to write a good and readable literature review for their dissertation. I found the following article on "Writing Thesis and Dissertation Proposals" available from: https://goo.gl/kxLiOB
The literature review is a critical look at the existing research that is significant to the work that you
are carrying out. Obviously, at this point you are not likely to have read everything related to your
research questions, but you should still be able to identify the key texts with which you will be in
conversation as you write your dissertation. Literature reviews often include both the theoretical
approaches to your topic and research (empirical or analytical) on your topic.
Writing the literature review allows you to understand:
How other scholars have written about your topic (in addition to what they have written).
The range of theories scholars use to analyse their primary materials or data
How other scholars connect their specific research topics to larger issues, questions, or
practices within the field.
The best methodologies and research techniques for your particular topic.
The literature review has four major functions or rhetorical goals that you should keep in mind as
It situates the current study within a wider disciplinary conversation.
It illustrates the uniqueness, importance of and need for your particular project by explaining
how your research questions and approach are different from those of other scholars.
It justifies methodological choices.
It demonstrates your familiarity with the topic and appropriate approaches to studying it.
Effective literature reviews should:
Flesh out the Introduction’s brief description of the background of your study.
Critically assess important research trends or areas of interest relevant to your study.
Identify potential gaps in knowledge.
Establish a need for current and/or future research projects.
In March 2011 I travelled to Cape Town for the first time since to attend my first block release class for my Postgraduate Educational Technology Diploma. The diploma programme had four courses: which were arranged in four block release classes of one week each preceded by some online tasks and succeeded by some online tasks and a long paper assignment. I met my amazing classmates: Elina, Helen, Dorothy, Tari, Caroline, Kinsley, Julius, David and Munya. These classmates were from Namibia, Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. A truly pan-African class! We met at All Africa House in the late afternoon. It was exciting to finally meet after interacting online. We did our self-introductions and then settled in our rooms.
Most of my classmates (see photo above) were accommodated at All Africa House except Kinsley and I who for that week were accommodated at Knightsbury Guest House (a walking distance from All Africa House) as there was not enough space to accommodate all of us that week at All Africa House. i.e studying at UCT? The full breakfast at the lodge each morning was excellent. How did we get to this place? Or how did I in particular? A few months ago I read a newspaper advert with a call for application for the Postgraduate in ICTS in Education (as it was called then) at the University of Cape Town. I responded to the application and later also applied for a Mellon Scholarship. My application for the programme was successful along with the scholarship. The scholarship covered tuition fees for all the four courses, accommodation during the block classes, return flights from country of origin to Cape Town and an allowance.
Impressions of Lessons During First Module
During the first module of ICTs in Education: Issues and Debates, we covered the following areas:
Emerging Technologies for Learning
Educational Technologies: Conflicts and Choices
Educational Technologies Affordances
Teaching with Social Media
ICT for Home schools
Research in Educational Technologies
What I found interesting was the Seminar/Workshop approach to the lessons. We would have various lecturers in various fields come to teach us during the week. This was useful in making the learning interesting as it ensured lessons were not monotonous due to having only one or two lecturers. The module had a lead facilitator, Professor Dick Ng’ambi but he ensured that the use of other facilitators made the learning experience worthwhile as we were exposed to experts in the topics listed in the programme. The sitting arrangement was U-shaped (not the typical classroom sitting arrangement of theatre style) allowing for better and maximum participation from the class. The photo above shows my class busy working on a group task.
The lead facilitator Professor Ng’ambi (seen teaching in photo above) is an approachable and innovative lecturer who puts the interests of his learners first. I remember his words to us as we commenced our course: “This week there will be a lot of learning and hard work. But the learning will be fun”. And fun it was! Dick also has this ability to work well with his fellow educators within and outside the University of Cape Town. This is a trait worth emulating by educators. Having a good collaborative approach with fellow teaching staff within and outside one’s learning institution has tremendous advantages for one’s professional growth and for one’s learners.
On 7th December 2017, the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) and REGENT Business School jointly hosted a one day National Research Conference on Business, Management and Sustainable Development. The focus was on emerging opportunities and challenges.
The theme of the Conference ‘Business, Management and Sustainable Development: Emerging Opportunities and Challenges’ underpinned the need for collaboration and cooperation of all delegates attending the conference.
The Conference Programme was rich and varied with a keynote address and fifty paper presentations across three sessions– not forgetting the teas, a lunch and a Banquet Dinner. The event was a success in every respect and the organising committee members, who had all worked extremely hard for the details of important aspects of the conference were commended.
The Conference offered a platform for scholarly and applied conversations among a wide variety of stakeholders concerned with the continual challenge of advancing the sustainable development and business agenda: people, planet, and growth. Because this is an emerging paradigm, there is much research and exploration that is needed. Academics, researchers, and professionals shared their findings and learnt from each other, in order to facilitate the transformation in how economic activity is conducted, allowing human societies to be sustained and to thrive.
In her Keynote Address, Councillor Fawzia Peer, the Deputy Mayor of eThekwini emphasised the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), an initiative by the United Nations Global Compact which is a collaborative, collegial learning community that thrives on sharing good practices to inspire and champion responsible management education, research and thought leadership globally. Successful implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she empahsised, will require all players to champion this agenda and the role of higher education is critical to this. She also stressed that the SDGs are relevant for business and management schools. Higher Education Institutions have the ability to influence students with responsible and sustainable business practices. This influence shapes tomorrow’s business leaders and society
She further stated that whilst government plays a key role in advancing the goals, it is business that will be instrumental in the success of the individual targets through the way they operate, develop new business models, invest in communities, innovate, and collaborate. For companies, successful implementation of the SDGs will strengthen the enabling environment for doing business, minimising increasing risks while also providing a myriad of new opportunities. As such, she indicated that it is business schools who will play an even more crucial role in the successful implementation of the SDGs.
Finally she reminded the delegates at the conference that it is imperative that we all remember we only have ONE PLANET EARTH. There is no planet B. She exhorted the house to do whatever is necessary to sustain our planet, ourselves, our children and their great, great, great great, great grandchildren. “We owe it to the future”, she said.
As the fields of sustainable development and business and management cross over into multiple areas and disciplines, delegates presented a range of topics and perspectives. The range of research submissions included conceptual, empirical, experimental, and case studies. In particular, papers made empirical and theoretical contributions about the social and economic processes impacting on sustainable development; business and management; global environmental governance, business and public policy approaches; technological innovations; climate change adaptation & mitigation; renewable energy development.
During the conference, it emerged that in order to achieve transformation towards a more sustainable world, the main political, economic and societal actors are looking for global solutions to face the global climate change which is perceived as the most important issue of our time. An ever increasing number of regions, sectors, ecosystems and social groups are confronted in the same time by the impacts of climate change on future societal transformation.
Chair of the conference organising committee and Associate Director for Research at Mancosa [GSB], Mr Paresh Soni, indicated that the outcomes of deliberations suggested that we should encourage any type of multi-, inter- or transdisciplinary studies and practices linking disciplines, knowledge systems and stakeholders to help the world to reach the sustainable development goals. Towards this end, a variety of conceptual and empirical submissions, drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and diverse methodologies (case studies, in-depth issue studies, speculative analyses) were used. Soni went on to say that the overall outcomes of this National Conference were of great interest to a wide variety of stakeholders, including: researchers, scientists, experts, policy practitioners, business decision makers and industry experts who were committed toward more sustainable business and management practices. He also thanked delegates for their unique and interesting contributions in making the event an outstanding success.
Many times we have heard the doctrine of starting and running small businesses. Vusi Thembekwayo, a thriving entrepreneur and venture capitalist in South Africa argues otherwise. Read on to find out why.
For how much longer will we as Africans continue to be happy with the status quo of the past hundred years which puts us as the recipients of all forces shaping the global world. What’s happened in the world over the past few years that we’ve done that shaped the rest of it?
The truth is that because of the narrative that we’ve had, we’ve settled for a conversation that makes it okay for Africans to just be okay. And a part of that dialogue we see in my environment where we finance businesses. There has been all this buzz about small businesses. Just start a business and just get in and it’s alright if it’s a small business. Well, I believe it’s not okay.
This is why. Here in South Africa, we have these great snacks called “kotas” (township slang for a quarter loaf of bread, mixed with all kinds of food items – fried chips, atchar, Viennas, Russians, eggs, polony and burger patties), which do something to our souls that a McDonalds burger will never do. This is perhaps one of our greatest exports, except we are not exporting it. Take Tibo for example who operates his kota business in Alexander township which he established in 2005. He turned over R 53,000 for the year in 2015. Yet interestingly, there is a listed South African company which started a franchise, called KOTA Joe in 2013, pumped in some capital and last year turned over R20 million. My point – we are big business.
So maybe this an anomaly, right? Let’s use another example. What is a bank? A bank is nothing more than a collective investment scheme. People come together and put their money in the central pot. We put it there usually as savings with the idea that when you unlock that money and you need it in the future you can get.
What the bank is doing is taking that money and saying to people – “if you are credit worthy we will lend you the money” and we will price it at a premium. Hence our ability to buy a car or a house. How different is that to the stokvels we have in South Africa? This is usually a group of black women who come together and put money in a pot and at the end of the year they have money and they go to the ShopRite and they buy stuff. And in the next year the cycle starts again right.
Stokvels come in different forms. One investment stokvel operating in the Eastern Cape started a year after we achieved democracy in 1995. Last year, their collective investment was R 300,000. Now imagine bundling together R 300,000 annually over the past 20 years, you can do the maths about the kind of numbers we are talking about. In 1991, four years before this, a bank was formed in South Africa known as ABSA, which does in essence the same thing. The stokvel last year R 300,000, ABSA is a R4.6 billion a year turnover business. My point – our models of doing business are big business.
We need to unlock our thinking and change the conversation – it’s not okay for us to start small businesses. It is not okay for us to be happy to be vendors on the side of the road anymore selling fruit and vegetables. What we need to do is own the farms that produce the fruit, own the road infrastructure that moves the fruit, own the retail infrastructure to sell the fruit and own the banking system the transacts the whole platform. And by the way why don’t we just take the taxes as well.
So the idea here is we need a radically new form of thinking. Now that we are clear on this, let me explain why we are not doing this. Because we can blame colonialism in my country apartheid as long as we want, but there is a deeper problem, and the deeper problem is our inability to understand the ecosystem and life-cycle of entrepreneurship. All entrepreneurs start out as start-ups. Whether you are Bill Gates or Steve jobs you start out as a one-man show with an idea. What makes the Americans and now more recently the Asians really good is that they have created a huge pool of venture capital money. Easy to access, cheap and you can have it as patient money. You can have it forever and never have to pay it back.
That’s why they are building large institutions so it is not a mistake that Jung Lee, a Chinese mobile company started five years ago and is now the third largest smartphone company in the world. Where do they sell their phones? Eighty-seven percent of their sales come from China. The remainder from this continent. We are big business.We all start out as start-ups. How do you know you are a start-up? It is easy. You are one guy. You go to the customer, you deal with him. You go back to make the cookies, you come back and you give him the cookies. And the month end you phone him and you say “can I please have my money” and then he pays you and if he doesn’t, you go to him and say please I am going to
We all start out as start-ups. How do you know you are a start-up? It is easy. You are one guy. You go to the customer, you deal with him. You go back to make the cookies, you come back and you give him the cookies. And the month end you phone him and you say “can I please have my money” and then he pays you and if he doesn’t, you go to him and say please I am going to klap you until I get my money. And usually you give him what I like to call an AAK, an Attitude Adjustment Klap.
But how do you know you are a startup? It is easy. If you are the value of the business, you are a start-up. If the customer wouldn’t trade with your business unless you are in it, you are a start-up. Move a level above that you become what I see a lot of happening now and on the rest of the continent. For a bit of context, I run a venture capital fund. In our VC fund we own an advisory business where we advise entrepreneurs on how to start a business and enterprise development business where we help them to get into the supply chains of large organisations and then a fund where we actually finance them, so the entire ecosystem they need to succeed.
We are in six countries in the continent, so Southern Africa, Eastern Africa and Western Africa. I like to call us what we are – the best-kept secret in this continent. Nobody knows about us and I like it that way, because then they can’t see us coming. So we see a lot of start-up as start-ups and then they become these survivalist entrepreneurs.
The problem is a lot of them die at the instance in which they become survivalists. What are survivalists? I really need money month end to pay my bills. How do you know you are one? It is usually one person with three, maybe four people in his team. He is operating in a small office and is just barely making it. Every month you must make money to pay for that month’s bills. A level above that is that you then become a success. As a success, you are one guy and you have a core group of people who manage people in the core group of people who deliver the work. And then where we should be at growth level. Here is the question: how do we move from start-up to growth in as fast a time as possible, minimise the risk and develop our own industries. The mindset has to change.
Perhaps the deepest thing about this is this…so complex. Entrepreneurs need six things to succeed just six. You need an infrastructure. And what is the challenge we have on our continent? If I manufacture something in Joburg, South Africa, how do I get it to Nigeria? How do I get it to Luanda in Angola? It still persists in our own continent that I can’t put it on a single rail track and move it to their part of the world.
So we need an infrastructure that opens up our markets. We need capital, money, funding. And dear governments, here is the point. The money doesn’t have to be cheap, but it does have to be patient. It’s not okay anymore if our entrepreneurs fail on our continent. We bank them and after that we then put them on these things called blacklists and the can’t access credit anymore. Because what you’ve done is – you have taken somebody who has failed and learned from failing and you have now made him that he can’t operate economically for the next five years. So they need assets, they need access to markets, strong administration and then people.
And here is the thing about the people challenge. What is the first thing top talent does in Africa? It leaves! Think about it. If you think about the top Africans shaping the rest of the world today, they are not likely doing it in our own continent. They are somewhere else doing it. And a part of the narrative we need to reshape is how do we bring them back here to build what is jointly ours? There is a huge mass of knowledge in the African Diaspora. We need to bring them back in here and this is how we reshape it. So as really four reasons people start businesses; to live well, to leave something for your kids, to sell it, or to change the world.
So what does Google say? Google says we exist to do no harm. Apple says because the people who are brave enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who do. So they live on a philosophy space where it really is about changing the world and the reward is much much higher. Here we live lifestyles. We get access to public sector opportunities we call them tenders. And here is the thing about tenders – people must know. So the first paycheck goes to getting you that Ferrari and because we don’t have Ferrari dealerships, what we do, we import them in. and not only that we must be seen to live in a certain suburb, so what we do is we encumber our ability and opportunity purely by wanting to a fancy lifestyle.
The Asian people are different, specifically Indians. We see a lot of this in my country. They build legacy businesses. The great-grandfather gets a corner shop and he opens up a dry cleaning business. The father opens up a fast food joint. His son opens up a hardware store. And your son will then open up something else. But here’s the thing – generation on generational on generation, they don’t close these shops down. They keep them running in the family as legacy businesses.
The environment I work in is where we sell business. We build them purely for the purpose of selling them. Why? Because if you build to sell, you build for value. It means you are going to live scrappy. You are going to keep costs low. You are going to take a long-term view because you’re building this thing generally to create enough push pressure in the market that you can sell it.
I was on Dragons Den in South Africa, so invested in myself and the other dragons actually, invested in a business that is fundamentally shaping the entire floral market in the world, not just here but in the world. They created an Uber but for flowers. So imagine a situation where you would go on your phone and you want to give flowers for your loved one. When you pull up the application on your screen it will show you the local florist and what that local florist has available right now and the price. You would then buy from the local florist. He would receive the order and deliver the goods in a split second of a time – why? Because he is closer to you. Does it work? Of course it does. The local forest wants access to the market. You want to get the goods to the customer and here is a business that’s reshaping it.
Why we do it? Because we know it will disrupt not only here by globally and a huge opportunity to sell. So the question really for us is why are we building our businesses? I would argue that we don’t build them for the right reasons. If this is true and I would argue that it is, how do we fix it?
We need to do four things.
We need to change the conversation. The conversation needs to be how do we build a business with a philosophy in mind? It has got to be greater than you. It has got be about changing the very way our very own continent works. It has got to be about bettering other people’s lives and making sure that in the innovations that we bring to market we have something that nobody else has and the rest of the world and they can only get it here. It must be based on a philosophy. Anything else is too weak.
We need a strong system of mentorship. Let me take a moment to pause here. So here is the thing about the mentorship. In my family and in South Africa specifically, we come from a deep past of subjugation of the majority of the population, black people, my people. Because of that black people are never allowed to own businesses. So in my family and I imagine is the case of most of us in the room, when I started my business everybody thought I was crazy because you are raising a system when you grow up went to school, got good grades, went to varsity, got the grades, got a job and got married. And when you want to disrupt the system, society doesn’t understand it. What it then meant was when I did start my business, I had nobody to whom I could go and seek mentorship. Why? Because they themselves didn’t know what they didn’t know. And so incumbent upon us is to create a system in our social spaces where we can access mentorship to think differently. This I would imagine is our deepest challenge socially.
We need to start creating a culture of delayed gratification. Fast money was fast in, but it is also really fast out. And here’s the other problem with fast money and this culture of delayed gratification. Let’s be honest here this and this is not political. We also live in a continent where in truth we have two economies. The connected economy and everything else. Everything else is where most of us who live. The connected economies where the Uber elite in the politically connected live. So it is not by mistake for instance that the wealthiest woman on the continent also happens to be the daughter of the president of Angola. I am not by means trying to put any sparages on her qualifications and abilities but I would argue differently – would she have the same opportunities if you were not the daughter of the president.
In my country South Africa we have seen a huge accumulation of wealth – of family members linked to our own president. Why? – because we created that narrative and we’ve made it okay – the connected economy where if you are ion you are in and if you’re not, well that’s just tough.
So it is about creating a culture of delayed gratification. That says build it. Build it for the next 10 years, next 15 years. Send young people through to varsity. Create innovation, structures and platforms and processes that we allow ourselves to build a different continent. Whatever you do, delay your own gratification. And finally, this is the trick right, how you know somebody is a good entrepreneur? It is very simple – they are very bad at writing business plans. It is true. We see a lot of it in our environment. If somebody has an NBA, odds are they are going to suck at entrepreneurship. If they can write a really well-written business plan, odds are they are going to be really poor at this entrepreneur thing. And in the context of this conversation about the lie of small business, is a part of the conversation we need to have, which is how we take people who are naturally not inclined to writing 60 page business plans and attach an addendum of a 20 page Excel spreadsheet of projections, and by the way, eight years in finance as a venture capitalist, I have never seen an Excel spreadsheet that says the business won’t make money.
The business always makes money. The revenue line is always up, cost is always down and profit is a perpetual quest of cream and water. People who are really good at writing the document are usually very bad in the real world at making the adaptations they need to make. So we need to create a culture that says start, start badly, start scrappy, make mistakes, fail, and start again, but whatever you do just start.
Before I close, let me tell you a personal story. So the year is 2014. I have just been kicked out of Wits University for something called financial exclusion. It is like Apartheid but for money. It basically means you don’t have enough money to pay your fees.
So I thought what am I going to do and I thought well I have got this thing called public speaking. It is a gift. I have won the world championship, maybe I could do that. So I started a public speaking business. I get a small office. It is a nice little office. I get a secretary and here’s the thing my business plan said that I was going to make money from month one. The financial model says month three I was cash flow positive. Six months in I have not received a single booking. Not a cent in my bank account. I have used up all the little savings I had up to that point. My secretary then says “listen I am willing to come to work for another month, but after that if you can’t pay me I really can’t come to work anymore”.
The bank is chasing because I have not paid off my car and, if you don’t pay off your car, the bank does the thing – I love the term – it is called repossession. Which means when you signed the contract you thought you owned it you didn’t really. We always owned, we just didn’t tell you. We are re-taking it back.
As for the bank they called to say that if you do not pay we are taking it back so I absconded and went to live in my office. Because the other thing about signing a bank contract is that it has that thing called a Domicilium citadel ET executant which is Latin for where do we find you when we need?
So they had my home address right and I absconded and I went to live in my office and for seven months, I lived in the basement of my office. The only meal I used to have often was driving to my then girlfriend, now wife’s house. Her father hated me so I always went there during lunch when he was at work and I would come back and continue to run my business.
Was it tough? – Yes. Have I been bankrupt? – Absolutely. But ladies and gentleman, I am privileged enough to stand here and say to you I have made more money than I never thought imaginable and I have not done it because I’m particularly more able than other people. I have done it purely because I’ve been afforded the opportunity to start. Yours and my task is the next generation of this continent – is to have a bit of faith and here is what faith is in my eyes. Faith is the ability to see the invisible. To believe in the impossible and to trust in the unknown. You and I today need to have a bit of faith in our own continent.