“All humans are entrepreneurs, not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA”.
This is what Reid Hoffman (co-founder and chairman of online networking platform, LinkedIn) and fellow entrepreneur and author Ben Casnocha profoundly put to us in their much empowering book, The Start-Up Of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.
In agreeing with these entrepreneurs and authors, Nobel Peace Prize winner and micro finance pioneer, Muhammad Yunus, takes us back to when human history began.
He tells of how, when we were in the caves, we were all self-employed, finding food to feed ourselves.
With the advent of civilization, we began to suppress ourselves and became “labours” because they stamped us, “You are labour.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.
Such statements have a potential to spark robust debate on whether there is validity on the views held by the gentlemen referred to above. Be that as it may, I love the concept that these views invoke — that being an entrepreneur doesn’t always mean you have to go start your own company. One can be an entrepreneur with a job.
But let’s snap back to reality! If we are to stick to a narrow definition of entrepreneurial process (which includes all functions and activities executed in pursuit of business opportunities and creation of business start-ups in order to generate value) , entrepreneurship is often associated with starting a new business or activities of small and medium enterprises.
Indeed, starting a new business is the most evident and widespread form of entrepreneurial activity which somehow justifies this simplified characterization of entrepreneurship with business start-ups.
In the broader business sense today, being entrepreneurial has come to mean more than just the business acumen required to turn an idea into an enterprise.
It is also used to characterize a combination of skill and mindset to innovate, create, and take calculated risk-taking, amongst others.
Because the term is not exclusively used for individuals, it is applies to organisational teams and entire organisational cultures. That is where the concept of Corporate Entrepreneurship (CE) comes in.
Approaches to Corporate Entrepreneurship. Although there is no unanimity on the meaning of the term or activities characterizing corporate entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship literature that has emerged in recent years provides consensus on using the term “Corporate entrepreneurship” to refer to different types of entrepreneurial behaviour in existing large organizations that seeks to encourage innovation to achieve competitive advantage at all levels of the business.
There are indeed different schools of thought on corporate entrepreneurship, the four basic ones being Corporate Venturing (related to investing in start-up and management of new small firms by a large company), Intrapreneurship (based on individuals employed in a large company to assume entrepreneurial behaviour), Bringing the Market Inside (market approach towards implementing structural changes in an organization in order to encourage entrepreneurial behaviour) & Entrepreneurial Transformation (emphasizes importance of adapting to an ever-changing environment).
To add a “caveat”, appreciating that corporate entrepreneurship takes many forms and shapes, this article is focusing only on the 3rd school of thought, which is Intrapreneurship.
Nurture your corporate entrepreneurs . So it is evident that there is a sweeping wave of entrepreneurs who intuitively understand the discipline of the marketplace in big organizations.
Some do not have the courage to take the leap of faith and start their own businesses. Others, who are gifted with entrepreneurial brains, or trained as such, choose to remain employed. Organizations cannot afford to be callous towards these employees.
It is important to create an entrepreneurship culture that allows them to thrive internally. An organisational culture does not grow on its own.
It must be deliberately cultivated through concerted action. Creating that sort of culture lies with management. Management’s ability to trust people is key in supporting entrepreneurial activity. Yes, managers have the responsibility to ensure that the company achieves its strategic and financial objectives; otherwise shareholders will continuously be on their case demanding return on their investments, and legitimately so.
This is not to say your employees need to be allowed to spend all work hours pursuing their delights and intrigues because that is not going to give you success every time.
However, managers need to create room for employees to explore new products and technologies that have potential to satisfy market needs whilst giving you impact and reward, lest you find yourself competing for the same customers.
Although it may, glance it, seem like fostering entrepreneurial employees is essentially shooting yourself in the foot since they will just go and start-up their business after all the effort, it’s inevitable that they will sooner or later seek spaces that will appreciate and nurture their entrepreneurial zest. The benefits of this effort for the organization more than outweigh these risks.
They won’t settle for anything less, at least not for long. And remember what they say, “the best startups typically are a group of entrepreneurs working together”.
This could start in your organization and explode into competition. So, again, it’s about managing the organisational paradox: balancing freedom and discipline. But that balance is always elusive; so one has to constantly work on it.
To stimulate business growth requires a multi-prone approach; one of those is to activate internal entrepreneurship. Survival and growth of your business depends on people.
Thus, if you don’t put efforts in attracting, motivating, and retaining those individuals who can help you achieve it is tantamount to betting against yourself.
Your internal entrepreneurs thrive in an environment like that. Once you have identified your entrepreneurs, you need to encourage them to take more chances and take lessons from failures they experience along the way.
In some organizations, one still gets a palpable sense that failure is unacceptable; it means you are not performing your job to meet expectations.
Stimulating an entrepreneurial culture also means creating room for failure, and accepting that to get successes, failures are inevitable. Failures can only propel organizations forward.
That way, your employees will start feeling like they are your partners, regardless of organisational hierarchy.
Deliberately stimulate corporate culture to capture opportunities
With growing consensus that companies should promote entrepreneurship within their organisational boundaries, the question is no longer whether large companies should or should not engage in entrepreneurial activity; it is rather what can be done to foster a culture of entrepreneurship within the organization. There has to be some sort of business strategy pursued by organizations (often referred to as corporate entrepreneurship (CE) strategy), which intentionally spells out how the organization plans to engage in various entrepreneurial activities to preserve and reinforce the innovativeness and flexibility from which it is to benefit. Stimulating an entrepreneurial culture has become an important advantage. In the fast-paced business environment today, most organizations no longer hope for an entrepreneurial culture, but rather should strive for it.
Pretty much all businesses need to strive for increased competitiveness and, at some stage of the business — leaders have to pay attention to business growth.
They have seen the ability of start-ups to trigger the impulse of creativity and innovation among their employees more effectively than themselves, and turning those fascinating ideas into commercial ventures — with less sustainability in some instances, but that’s a discussion for another day.
So there is evidence of a growing level of interest developing in corporate entrepreneurship, as should be. Indeed, there are companies whose ability to capture new opportunities, and creating success, is attributed to fostering internal entrepreneurial activity. Many organisations have done it and reaped tangible benefits.
This, they have done in different ways, with the right balance of freedom and discipline; through trial and error (as one practice is no bullet proof).
From decentralizing decision-making and pushing it down to lower organisational levels to diligently building a culture of entrepreneurship, they have reaped rewards.
Does your organization value an entrepreneurial culture? How has it added to your competitive advantage?
If you have not been paying attention, remember the Chinese proverb “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Why invest for the future
AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.
Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.
“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.
Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.
He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.
Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.
“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.
Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.
In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.
He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.
Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.
He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.
“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.
Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.
He says each provides different financial products and services.
Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.
Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.
“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.
Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.
Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.
However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.
Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.
Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.
Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.
When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.
They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.
Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.
Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.
“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.
“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.
Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.
In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.
Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.
The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.
In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.
Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.
He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.
He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.
LetsGo and Win!
LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.
The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.
“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.
“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.
Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.
“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”
He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.
“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”
Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.
“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.
He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.
“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”
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