Scott Weiss, the chairperson of our Board of Advisors, recently visited Johannesburg and Soweto, South Africa on a trip with other local entrepreneurs to learn about the incredible work of Paradigm Shift and to build into entrepreneurs in impoverished parts of the country. We asked him to share a few learnings and observations from his trip:
Tell us a bit about Paradigm Shift and the work they are doing in South Africa.
South Africa’s economy can not generate sufficient growth by leveraging natural resources and existing big companies. The country is mired in 25% unemployment with black African unemployment well over 60%. Paradigm Shift’s mission is to unleash the economic potential of the population by providing education in how to be an entrepreneur. The training is distributed to the population by local churches who provide the venue, instructors and mentors. Paradigm Shift provides the curriculum and trains the mentors and instructors. In essence, the mission of this outstanding organization is in Ephesians 4:28, “…let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that may have something to share with anyone in need.”
What surprised you about entrepreneurship in South Africa?
The robust embrace of economic creativity by the population.
What can US entrepreneurs learn from entrepreneurs in South Africa?
Determination. The path for any entrepreneur is not easy. A path to economic success never is easy. South African entrepreneurs face challenges well beyond our own experience: daily electricity; access to banking (not loans, just banking); multiple languages (up to 7); xenophobia (immigrant entrepreneurs face physical risks).
What can corporate teams learn from entrepreneurs in South Africa?
I met a woman who was committed to providing for her adult disabled son. She purchased a camping trailer and converted it into a food van. She developed a customer base but had not yet earned enough to purchase a vehicle. Every morning she and her developmentally disabled son pushed the trailer a mile to the optimal location. Every night she pulled it home. She will have enough cash to buy a vehicle and expand her reach within a month. That is commitment, determination and faith. Bring that to a corporate setting and you will move a mountain.
As you reflect personally, what most moved you or impacted you on this trip?
The raw courage of South African entrepreneurs and their profound belief in the higher purpose of their calling.
How can local folks support the work of Paradigm Shift and entrepreneurs in South Africa?
Find the web site and give as generously as you can.
We encourage you to check out the work of Paradigm Shift, whose mission is to end poverty through entrepreneurship.
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