This is an age old discussion, which I think Alex Lawrence over at Forbes summarised very well. I’m pretty sure you can teach entrepreneurship, but only to a point. In the same way that it’s impossible for some people to become chess grandmasters, it is possible for almost every human to learn how to play the game at a basic level.
You should probably read this post, before continuing the rest of my blog post.
I have my own thoughts on the issue, but they are pretty much well aligned with his categorical breakdown. I do think that he has lumped the small business entrepreneur with the micro-entrepreneur. They are very much two completely different segments of the market.
Micro-entrepreneurs are usually unskilled, survival focused entrepreneurs living from hand to mouth (think hawkers in african townships), compared with a photographer or an independent lawyer. It’s really boils down to choice and skills – the micro-entrepreneur probably doesn’t have either, but the other does (even if they choose not to).
The level of income is also vastly different within that category. Africa in particular has what you can call the “missing middle” – millions of micro-entrepreneurs, but not enough SMB’s. This is the opportunity that’s ahead – finding a way to smooth the curve and help create skills.
Ideally, you want a well proportioned base of Micro’s, SBE’s (Small Business Entrepreneurs), ME’s (Mainstream Entrepreneurs) and then balance that out with the current staple of Growth Entrepreneurs and a sliver of Global Entrepreneurs.
It’s not just Africa that has this problem with unbalanced proportions of entrepreneurs. Changes in the capital and credit markets have damning repercussions on the entrepreneurial ecosystem – more so in established markets like the US, than in developing markets, where entrepreneurs are used to this type of volatility.
I suppose the real question is how do you create a balance of entrepreneurs (you different onces across the spectrum to drive job creation, economic growth and innovation) and financing for each class of entrepreneur…