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The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) is driven by a vision of a dynamic culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa that promotes a positive mindset in youth and adults and assists in the eradication of poverty through the creation of effective entrepreneurs.


The Institute has developed a series of training programs that use active learning principles to engage participants in a process of discovering the fundamentals of business. The aim is to help change mindsets from passivity and fatalism towards an active engagement with opportunities. The Institute has three main areas of involvement:

Schools, with programs covering grade 2 to grade 12. Our materials are Curriculum-aligned, and introduce learners to the essence of entrepreneurship through case studies, group discussions and interactive exercises.

Grass-roots Enterprise Development. The Institute has a powerful business simulator game (known as the BEST game), which introduces illiterate adults to the fundamentals of business. After a week of exposure to the BEST game, participants have learnt the key pillars of business, viz the perception of the business as a separate entity which needs to be funded in order to survive, understanding of markets, principles of manufacturing and managing money.

Subsistence farmers. An adaptation of the BEST game, known as AgriPlanner, helps subsistence farmers to make the transition towards regarding their plot of land as an economic unit capable of generating an income. Participants learn to engage with the markets, and to plan production to meet market requirements.

In each instance, the training is designed to introduce participants to new concepts and experiences, to train them in new skills, but most importantly to bring about a shift in mindset. This emphasis on an entrepreneurial mindset distinguishes SAIE from many other agencies involved in development. The difference is sharply defined by the manner in which SAIE deals with the challenges and setbacks that inevitably accompany any new enterprise. Most welfare-orientated agencies, including government departments, tend to deal with problems by providing solutions, whether in the form of money, goods or equipment. While not denying the need for such solutions, the Institute is keenly aware that welfare invariably suppresses self-reliance, and pushes people back towards a state of dependency. SAIE strives to approach problems from the perspective of encouraging the entrepreneur to find their own

Key Challenges

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2010 Special Report indicated that South Africa has a low level of entrepreneurship and a very high failure rate of new enterprises relative to other countries. In terms of total entrepreneurial activity (the TEA rate) South Africa scores the third lowest out of 17 countries analysed in its peer group. Results of a study released in March 2010 by the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), confirm that South Africa’s level of entrepreneurial activity is low.

The education system in South Africa is contributing further to the problem rather than helping to resolve it. South Africa has consistently under-performed on international measures of numeracy and literacy, behind even poorer countries such as Ghana, and conflict-ridden societies such as Palestine. The National Curriculum Statement, introduced in 2002, was a bold attempt to redefine the educational landscape. However certain key factors in the plan turned out to be beyond the capacity of educators and administrators to implement, with the result that considerable tension was generated among key stakeholders, while the declining Grade 12 results added further impetus for change.

A program of changes was announced by the Minister in July 2010 which will, it is hoped, go some way towards improving the situation, but the needs are so pervasive that the road ahead for creating a new educational environment is long and hard. In the mean time, each year of the 1.1 million children who start Grade 1, only about half make it to Grade 12, and of those, just over 60% pass. The rest, some 640 000 young people, drop out of the school system with extremely limited chances of finding employment, and join the 2.5million South Africans between the ages of 18 and 25 who are currently unemployed. For moral, economic and social reasons, education is undoubtedly an extremely urgent priority for the whole country.

A third area of national concern is the underperformance of small-scale agriculture. In 2005 DFID reported that, “Strong agricultural growth, particularly increased productivity, has been a feature of countries that have successfully reduced poverty”. This is evident of the Green Revolution and its tremendous strides in Latin America and Asia, for example “between 1980 and 1995 per capita food production increased 27% in Asia and 12% in Latin America” (Kofi Annan). By contrast, “In sub-Saharan Africa, it fell 8%. Indeed, Africa is the only region where the average per capita food production has been constantly falling for the past 40 years – and is still falling.” And the consequences are slower overall growth and continued hunger and poverty. A key reason for this decline is that small-scale farmers do not have the skills to utilize the potential available land and accelerate economic and social development of the rural areas.

The African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme sought a 6% annual growth in food production by 2015. Unfortunately, South Africa has been unable to attain these objectives. World Bank data shows that Agriculture as a value added percentage of the GDP has stayed stagnant at 3% between 2000 and 2008. The Department of Agriculture 2008/09 Annual Report stated that “High food prices and the impact thereof on the most vulnerable members of our community has been a serious challenge to the department during 2008. Although this is a global phenomenon, our concern has rather been about food accessibility (affordability) to the poorest of the poor in the country.” With approximately 80% of agricultural land available in South Africa, there is substantial scope, with efficiently use this land, to increase employment and decrease poverty. South Africa has made some strides in the restitution of land to those who had lost it as a consequence of past discrimination. However, almost 90% of land claim beneficiaries are in danger of having their farms repossessed by the Government because they are failing.

The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship has a vision of a dynamic culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa that promotes a positive mindset in youth and adults and assists in the eradication of poverty through the creation of effective entrepreneurs and enterprises.

The SAIE develops innovative materials that utilize original, creative methodologies; and trains educators, trainers and community-based organisations to convey business skills, uncover entrepreneurship qualities and ensure sustainable economic development and wealth creation.

Organisational Aims

To develop in individuals the capacity to identify business opportunities based on their skills, their opportunities, their natural resources, their network of contacts, their favourite activities, the places they know well etc.

To enable individuals to discover the impact of various business decisions and provide a life-like experience of the repercussions of allocating capital, including discovering the affects of good or poor investments.

To empower individuals to prepare for the management of an effective, dynamic and sustainable business based on their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas including to prepare for unplanned expenses, understand and be alert to the dangers of selling on credit, have the opportunity to practise selling and negotiating, write simple business plans, do break-even calculations and draw up simple cash flow statements, income statements and balance sheets describing a business (simulation) that they have experienced first-hand.

To facilitate poverty eradication through the development of entrepreneurs and effective, profitable business enterprises.

Background Information:

The Institute was born out of the Triple Trust Organisation (TTO) in 1996 in recognition of the critical need for easily accessible financial literacy training materials for both the small enterprise sector and for schools. The Triple Trust Organisation was itself established in 1988 as a job creation and skills training NGO committed to the social and economic upliftment of South Africa’s disadvantaged, mostly uneducated and unskilled populace.
Since TTO was primarily serving those individuals who had little or no education, there was a need to find appropriate methodologies to convey complete financial and business concepts through experiential and discovery learning. As a result, a simulation “game”, the “Best Game” (Business Expenses Savings Training) was developed. In 1994, the ILO approached TTO with a view to establishing a partnership that would enable them to utilise the BEST Game internationally. The partnership was finalised in 1995 and resulted in additional training modules being developed in order to expand the reach of the materials to other settings and participants, particularly to youth and school-going learners.
In 1996 TTO established a separate training development arm to focus on creating and testing similar and related entrepreneurial business development training tools and materials using these methodologies. So the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) was born.
Since its inception SAIE has grown from a two-person organisation to one with a staff of 13 people. Using BEST Game as the initial program, many programs have been developed over the years.

Best Game
The BEST Game has been translated into over 18 languages and has been used all across South Africa’s 9 provinces and by 70 organisations around the world from Singapore to Kazakhstan to Brazil. BEST Game aims to convey the principles of running a business to people who are not functionally literate. But, it has also been used in more formal business training settings. For example by TSiBA Education who has used the BEST Game as part of their entrepreneurship curriculum. The BEST Game has also been used across Africa by HopeHIV and other charity funded organisations.
Business Ventures

SAIE has also received significant acclaim for the development of its schools entrepreneurship program, which was developed in 1996. The BusinessVENTURES system is a holistic solution to educator development because it proceeds from two complementary starting points: (1) good learning materials without development training will not transform the educator; and (2) yet educator development training without good learning materials will not deliver effective and efficient learning in the 21st century. The program has been developed for Grade 2 to 12 pupils and has been translated into Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. Thus far, more than 16085

Educators have been trained in all 9 provinces of South Africa. These are some of the comments from the educators who have used the program:
  "It’s outstanding!"
  "It’s creative!"
  "Learners change, they learn to come forward with their own ideas, they take risks in their thinking."
  "The materials are easy to follow and will make learners think."
  "In a nutshell the program is user friendly and very interesting."
  "The materials are easy to follow and make learners think."
  "The program has been of great help to the educators."
  "This program is a stimulating way to acquire information."
  "We have worked very well. It was so encouraging to every one that was in a team."

Agri Planner
Kofi Annan once stated that: “The path to prosperity in Africa begins in the fields of Africa’s small-scale farmers, with a dramatic sustainable revolution in agriculture”. And it is with this philosophy that SAIE’s AgriPlanner was born and has been such a success. In July 2004, SAIE began to develop its agri-business suite of programs to convert farmers from a subsistence mindset to regarding their plot of land as the foundation for their own agri-business. Rural, small-scale farmers speak of now being able to feed their families, to support nearby schools and clinics, and to earn revenues by selling to the community and even to the local supermarket. SAIE has gone on to partner with organisations such as Abalimi, Siyakhana, SCAT, Siyazisiza in South Africa (to name only a few) and the program has also been used across Africa from Tanzania to Zimbabwe.

Welcome World
SAIE has also gone on to produce a program that specifically deals with developing South Africans’ confidence in dealing with tourists. This program has only been used in the Western Cape by Organisations such as Cape Town Tourism but it has received praise for its user-friendly and creative methods. Welcome World is a highly interactive role-playing simulation style game that benefits learners with a great depth of experience on how to interact positively and effectively with tourists.

Having developed all these programs, SAIE felt it vital to develop a method in which to measure the impact of its programs. Thus, Entreprenometer was born and uses questionnaires, video recordings and interviews in order to establish participants’ entrepreneurial qualities pre and post contact with SAIE’s programs.
To learn more about SAIEs projects, please use our “Project Search” tool on the upper, left hand side of the page.

The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship:

The South African Institute for Entrepreneurship (SAIE) is a not-for-profit, Section 21 NGO which has Section 18a status. SAIE was constituted with a Memorandum and Articles of Association in 1996 and is governed by a Board of Directors.

In 1996 the SAIE was established as an independent registered Section 21 Non Profit Organisation. Between 1996 and 2009, the SAIE established various other partnerships with licensees in the Philippines, Brazil, and the United States to market and implement its programmes worldwide. Through these activities, the SAIE’s products are now used in 75 countries and have been culturally adapted and translated into 18 languages.













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