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USE A GAP YEAR TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR

The idea of taking a gap year, typically in London or elsewhere to do odd jobs, arose because school-leavers often don’t yet know what to do with their lives. The problem is that even after such a year many young people still don’t have an idea of what they want to do because no structure for the year has been put in place.

In order to overcome this problem, the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, USB Executive Development (USB-ED), presents from January next year an entrepreneur programme to make just such a gap year as productive as possible.

It is not only aimed at school-leavers, but also at students who have terminated their studies, as well as young graduates who want to create their own employment opportunities.

According to DeWet Schoeman, programme leader of the programme at USB-ED, the idea is to encourage and elucidate entrepreneurial thinking in participants. It will teach them how to seek their own opportunities or create them in preparation for a future career.

“The intention is not necessarily that participants establish an enterprise upon conclusion of the programme. It is simply to encourage entrepreneurial thinking that allows for the creation of ideas for the future.

“In order to do this, a person first has to understand who and what he or she is, and the direction in which their lives should move,” said Schoeman.

The programme, which is presented over a period of ten months, comprises two phases. The first phase, which is more theoretical in nature, covers three areas of development. The first deals mainly with self-discovery and what a person expects from life. It also deals with development of entrepreneurial thought, and how to identify opportunities and capitalise on them in a way that creates prosperity for oneself. Thirdly, it also comprises the basic principles and skills needed to establish a small to medium enterprise and manage it. The learning process will be emphasised through a process of life-coaching.

The second phase is more practical in nature and offers participants the opportunity to put what they learnt in the first phase, into practice. While support will be given in the identification of job opportunities and other development opportunities, it is the participants who will be primarily responsible for their employment. It will also be expected of participants to report back regularly on their experiences and development.

It is possible to undertake the second phase while working in London or elsewhere, with report-backs done over the internet. The ‘adventure’ of going overseas is therefore not discouraged. By doing it with the knowledge of entrepreneurship, will however leave a participant far better equipped for this and the future.

By the end of the programme, participants will be required to present a business plan in order to qualify for a certificate in entrepreneurship and business management.

“A gap year does not have to be a survival year, but rather one that is structured and filled with discovery and excitement,” Schoeman said.

For more information, contact DeWet Schoeman on (021) 918 4216 or dewet.schoeman@usb-ed.com, or Charmaine Garcia on (021) 918 4488 or charmaine.garcia@usb-ed.com.

Article by University of Stellenbosch Business School



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