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Activating corporate entrepreneurship

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“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.”

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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