Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellows at the frontline in South Africa’s fight against COVID-19

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellows at the frontline in South Africa’s fight against COVID-19

Testing is a critical in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Led by Allan Gray Fellows Daniel Ndima and Dineo Lioma, CapeBio has answered the challenge with a kit providing results in just 65 minutes.

Testing is a pillar of any campaign against coronavirus, and not only because it identifies infected individuals. It also provides an idea of how the virus may be developing within the country – and, once scientists potentially understand its spread, government can plan resources accordingly.

 This is why the qPCR kits developed by CapeBio are hailed as a massive breakthrough, with critical implications for the country’s ability to weather the current crisis. As Daniel Ndima, CEO of CapeBio says, “The ability to obtain rapid test results allows us to gain a clearer picture of viral infections, so that we are able to introduce interventions with greater effectiveness.” This will remain important even after lockdown, as South Africa has a population of over 55 million people who will need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.

The culmination of a career

Ndima says that CapeBio’s innovation was a response to the massive disruptions created by the virus in South Africa. “One of our major challenges is our reliance on imported tests,” he explains. “Most countries are currently experiencing issues with supply and demand, which their respective governments are controlling with newly introduced trade regulations. This has caused delays in the delivery of imported testing kits and protective gears, and may impact on the delivery of vaccines once they have passed clinical trials.”

A scientist with a special interest in structural biology, Ndima says that the development of the kits represents a spinoff of the work he has dedicated the past 12 years of his life to. CapeBio already has an established reputation in this field, he adds, noting that the company has created a number of test kits with a reputation for reliability. “Our kits help pathologists isolate and identify a virus’s DNA or genetic material from an infected person. This makes it possible to detect the virus accurately in a laboratory.”

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, CapeBio was heavily involved in the production molecular biology reagents, enzymes and kits which were used in universities as well as research councils and R&D companies in both South Africa and the United States. These kits were playing a vital role in helping scientists to study and understand the importance and function of certain genes in human beings, animals, microbes and plants.

However, CapeBio was awaiting validation from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority before introducing its products to a broader user base, such as private and public pathology labs, as well as pharmaceutical companies. “The tests still had to be reformulated, validated and certified by this body for diagnostics of other diseases caused by deadly pathogens such as HIV, TB, malaria and genetic related diseases,” Ndima informs. “We were looking into formulating our current products for these purposes, amongst others.”

Then came the advent of COVID-19 – “and out of patriotism and national duty to our country, we decided to expedite the local manufacture of the kits,” Ndima says. He adds that when news of the devastation wrought on China and Europe by the coronavirus hit our press, he knew it was just a matter of time until we faced the same battle. Our fight would be even harder, though, because of our heavy reliance on imported biotechnology products. Thus, one of CapeBio’s goals is to upscale production, once the necessary permits and certificates have been obtained, so that there are no kit shortages either in South Africa or the rest of the continent.

As a locally manufactured product, the qPCR could mitigate this reliance on overseas imports, ensuring that testing reagents could be accessed quickly and without a wait. They are also more affordable than international products. Perhaps most importantly, however, CapeBio’s product makes it possible to obtain test results in just 65 minutes, compared to the usual three hours.

 Now in the assessment and validation phase, the test kits will be ready for rollout by the beginning of June.

Curbing the crisis

While most of the country’s efforts to this point have been focused on #FlatteningTheCurve, Ndima points out that the impact of the crisis on our economy is just as concerning as the toll on our healthcare systems. He cites Euler Hermes’ observation in the latest Global Insolvency Report that business insolvencies were expected to rise in 2020 as the country fought a protracted growth slowdown, with growth expected to reach only 0% in 2020 and 0.7% in 2021. In fact, we’d already started to see the fallout: in 2019, business insolvencies were up by 6%, and this number would have risen by a further 4% if business had continued as usual. But, of course, it did not – and so, with lockdown taking a significant toll, we should brace for a hefty increase in these numbers. Along with this comes the anticipation of structural reform from state-owned companies, as well as retrenchments. Says Ndima, “We don’t know if this is the right time for these highly contested measures by labour forces, or if the right time will ever come. But there is no doubt that we are facing a serious health and economic threat that will leave us a changed nation.” His belief is that, to meet our changed circumstances, global economic machinery and conduct also need to evolve. “It’s not just about holding on to the 4IR capabilities that will keep whatever little fire is left to support our nation; we also need to rethink, reimagine and morph into a nation with businesses that can survive global catastrophes of this nature going forward.”

With this in mind, Ndima says that entrepreneurs would do well to consider their offerings and tactics so they are better suited to a drastically changed ‘post coronavirus’ world. One of the hallmarks of this world is collaboration, he notes – as, indeed, CapeBio has benefited enormously from the opportunities for collaboration it gained as part of the Department of Science and Innovation’s COVID-19 response team, where experts from universities and R&D centres around the country have been give a platform to share ideas and capabilities in the search for viable solutions. This body has been formed to ensure that the country has the right tools to combat the outbreak and its associated impact on the health system – and enough of them, Ndima explains. But it’s also about sharing the resulting insights with knowledge systems creators from academia, and vice versa.

Biotechnology and healthcare are obvious sectors where future opportunities may be present, but entrepreneurs may also find that they can add value by providing products and services that support these industries. That said, Ndima is particularly enthusiastic about the potential of the biotechnology space. “This is an area that is largely misunderstood in South Africa. Compare this to a country like the United States, where it essentially underpins the economy because it covers so many areas, from therapeutics to pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. If we achieved the same kind of focus on the sector, we could start to play a bigger role on the global stage.” More than this, we could ensure that South Africa was better geared not only to overcome the challenges created by the current crisis, but to ensure that the country’s economy and other resources are strong enough to withstand other disasters which may come our way.

“This is the right time to look to biotechnology, but you don’t need to do it alone. Other industry members are here to help, in the prevailing spirit of collaboration,” says Ndima. CapeBio is more than willing to step into this role, he adds, promising other Allan Gray Fellows that if they answer this call, his team will do all they can to help them realise their objectives.

“This could be an opportunity for businesses to reimagine their offerings during and post COVID-19 outbreak. All of us need to go back to the drawing boards, rethink tactics, collaborate and rebuild, using the benefits offered by 4IR tools to create high impact businesses. This global pandemic is presenting us with serious health and economic threats, but I think it could present us with stimulated business mindsets going into the new world – so that, hopefully, we can build businesses rooted in kindness to all our people and a sense of responsibility and patriotism to our nation,” he concludes.




COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

As responsible citizens, we are doing our part to halt the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of our Talent, programme participants and stakeholders are of primary concern to us, so it is important that we act quickly.

The President has declared COVID-19 a national disaster and announced some far-reaching controls that restrict movement and helps to curtail the spread of this virus. In support of minimising the spread of COVID-19, we have identified strict precautionary measures to be implemented urgently to avoid potential infections in our community. Prevention is our key theme and mantra.

One of the main enemies to fight in such a crisis is panic fuelled by ignorance and misinformation – we call upon our community to assist us in limiting the panic regarding coronavirus. Please be mindful about disseminating memes, articles and other sources of information that have not been verified as comprising facts. It is always best to verify information through the World Health Organisation; SA’s Department of Health or the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Our precautionary measures are as follows:


  • International and non-essential national travel is prohibited.
  • This means that the only travel that will be allowed until the end of June is that of our programme participants travelling to their homes.
  • All Foundation events with guests of 100 or more people will be cancelled or put on hold until July. We are working on a strategy and schedule for these activities and will be communicating throughout this period on changes or updates.


  • We are initiating a remote working strategy in support of practising social distancing across the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. Talent will work from home as of Wednesday, 18th March 2020. Arrangements have been put in place for our Facilities and Data Management Centre functions.
  • Small group in-person meetings or training workshops that cannot be avoided will be hosted at our offices – appropriate precautions will be put in place by the organiser.
  • All Talent who feel any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 will immediately disclose to their Manager and seek medical attention; Talent members with any exposure will be requested to self-isolate

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Engagements with our internal and external communities will be telephonic; or via WhatsApp, Teams and video conferencing
  • Where in-person engagement are unavoidable and agreed, we request that stakeholders disclose if they have travelled to high-risk areas in the past two months or have experienced any related symptoms

Personal and Environmental Hygiene

  • We will and encourage all stakeholders to, continue with hand washing, use of hand sanitisers, to not touch one’s face and to cough into one’s curved elbow.
  • The office cleaning will continue at a high standard and disinfectant sprays are used periodically through the day.
  • Hand sanitisers are available throughout both offices.

All updates regarding our events and Fellowship Applications will be shared via our social media channels.

Any questions can be directed to

Thank you for your adherence to the above. We trust in the commitment and cooperation of our community to ensure that we handle this situation with care, responsibility and consideration for the important work our organisation still has to do in the midst of this challenging time.

In memory of Allan William Buchanan Gray (8 April 1938 – 10 November 2019)

In memory of Allan William Buchanan Gray (8 April 1938 – 10 November 2019)

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Allan William Buchanan Gray. He died of natural causes on 10 November 2019 in Bermuda, where he lived since 1997. Allan made an immeasurable impact on many lives as an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist in South Africa, and globally.

He has earned his rest.

Allan leaves behind a lasting legacy. He was first known as an exceptional investor, founding the investment firm Allan Gray, and later Orbis. The companies he built had the singular purpose of creating long-term wealth for clients, and successive generations of employees continue to be guided by Allan’s strong values and his philosophy and approach to investing. He saw philanthropy as a natural extension of the impact that the investment business aims to make in people’s lives, spending considerable focus and energy later in his career on philanthropic endeavours.

His last years were spent setting up the Allan & Gill Gray Foundation (the Foundation), to which he donated his family’s controlling stake in the Orbis and Allan Gray groups. All dividends that the Foundation receives are devoted entirely and exclusively to philanthropy. More recently the Foundation established initiatives around the world through which themed contributions are made to causes wherever Allan Gray and Orbis offices are situated. The current programme theme aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and to promote lifelong learning.

As Allan wrote in his final Chairman’s Letter in 2015: “We consider this both the right thing to do and a small but necessary contribution toward a society full of hope for all humanity. The free enterprise system has done so much for so many, and it behoves the few whom it rewards particularly well to help those less fortunate.”

Allan was a man of quiet dignity, never seeking the limelight for himself. He was bold in his decisions, but always humble in his approach to learning from others. He had genuine respect for all people, inspiring them to find and bring out the best in themselves. He modelled his view that business decisions were usually uncomplicated when viewed against clear values and principles.

Allan always taught that it’s not enough to work on important matters – one must focus on the most important. Yet he insisted that one sweat the details, for unpicking apparently small aspects could often unlock full insight. One of his greatest talents lay in keeping both the “important” and the “detail” in mind at the same time.

His work in philanthropy began in 1979, when he and his wife Gill founded the Allan and Gill Gray Charitable Trust. In 2006 he established the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, to fund bursaries and scholarships for talented Southern African scholars and students, mainly from under-resourced communities, with the specific purpose of developing entrepreneurial talent. He and Gill made donations to fund the Centre for Values-based Leadership at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, and the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics at Rhodes University.

Allan was born in East London, South Africa in 1938. After completing high school at Selborne College, he studied at Rhodes University. He qualified as a chartered accountant and went on to earn an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1965. He then worked at Fidelity Management and Research in Boston, before returning to South Africa in 1973 to found what would become Allan Gray Limited. He set up Orbis in 1989 to focus on global investing, and moved with Gill to Bermuda in 1997. A meticulous planner, he spent a number of years gradually transferring his responsibilities to others, confident that the firms were in excellent hands. He handed over the presidency of Orbis to his son Will in 2000, resigned from the Allan Gray board in 2010 and stepped away from his remaining investment responsibilities at Orbis in 2012, before retiring officially from Orbis in 2016.

Allan’s important legacy is exemplified by the work of the 1,500 employees of the asset management firms he founded, the benefits accruing to their many clients, and the ongoing impact which the philanthropic efforts he founded will continue to have. He made a difference.

Allan leaves behind his wife Gill, their three children Trevor, Jenny and Will together with their spouses Carrie, Buddy and Ali, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Note about the author: Jonathan was an early employee of Allan Gray, joining the firm in 1980, and remains a member of the Orbis group. His relationship with Allan was always personal as well as professional. “Find for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend.” (Talmud)



The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is saddened to announce the passing of Allan William Buchanan Gray

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is saddened to announce the passing of Allan William Buchanan Gray

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is saddened to announce the passing of its Founder and Patron, Allan William Buchanan Gray. Allan was a visionary and successful businessman; a pioneer in the investment sector; a leader and a philanthropist, and these characteristics informed much of his work in securing a future, not only for his investment clients but also for the many beneficiaries of his philanthropic organisations.

In 1984, Allan wrote to the Finance Department of the then South African government asking permission for 20% of the company to be donated to a trust to support Black enterprise. Although unsuccessful at this time, the seed had been planted. The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation was started in 2005 and funded by a donation of 7% of the taxed profits from Allan Gray Limited alongside an endowment trust capitalised with over R1 billion, that he donated to ensure its continuity.

The Foundation has provided high quality schooling and entrepreneurship education to over 350 Scholars from highly disadvantaged families; with over 450 Candidate Fellows currently receiving tertiary education in universities in South Africa and abroad; and a further 432 having graduated to become Allan Gray Fellows. Additionally, 14,000 high school students have been reached through the Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Allan’s vision was of an entrepreneurial, equitable South Africa flourishing with meaningful employment. He believed in the dynamism of high impact young entrepreneurial leaders whose passion, integrity and innovation will be at the forefront of the continuing economic and social transformation of this region.

In turn, Allan provided many individuals the freedom to dream; as he said: “It’s about creating opportunity – a sense of hope for everybody so that people can dream, not a dream that is impossible but a dream that can be realised”.

To this end, he conceptualised a model that would identify, nurture and support young entrepreneurial talent through long term investments in their education coupled with a well thought out comprehensive support programme offering. Allan’s ability to understand systemic issues and create sustainable solutions has been the basis from which the Foundation and his other philanthropic endeavours have grown.

“We at the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation feel a deep sense of loss at the passing of Allan, our Founder, and wish his family comfort and peace at this difficult time. The business relationship and personal friendship we shared with him have been a source of enrichment and learning for us all. We shall miss his visionary guidance and quiet leadership greatly,” said Chairman of the Board, Prof. Njabulo Ndebele.

Yogavelli Nambiar, CEO of the Foundation, adds: “While the Foundation mourns his loss, we can be comforted knowing that his vision has secured a future for over a thousand individuals and helped reach thousands more through various entrepreneurship initiatives, research and educator support. The onus now rests with us to continue to carry his vision forward, creating a world where young entrepreneurs create lasting social change within their communities across South Africa. Allan’s spirit of significance and humility will live on in the Foundation and the many young people supported by it.”

What makes an Entrepreneur: 14 Behavioural Competencies

What makes an Entrepreneur: 14 Behavioural Competencies

From the time the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation was established in 2005, our aim has been simple: to nurture high impact, responsible entrepreneurs. However, it’s one thing to implement a programme with a clear objective, and quite another to prove – scientifically and empirically – that the programme is achieving its intended goals.

That’s why the Foundation embarked on a formal validation study in 2017. By this time, the success profile methodology used to select participants for our programme had been in place for five years. We wanted to be sure, beyond doubt, that our tools were optimally accurate and effective in terms of assessing candidates. We also wanted to determine whether our selection and development framework was the right one. Could we be certain that the competencies we selected for were, indeed, indicators of academic performance and entrepreneurial potential?

Our validation study was informed and underscored by our understanding that, when establishing a business, success is largely determined by three critical elements: the Person (their skills, competencies, mindset and values) the Context (political and socio-economic) and the Process (the steps taken to start the business). The Foundation’s work is unique in that we select young people at pre-ideation stage; in other words, we select for individual entrepreneurial potential, rather than the business idea. This means that an individual’s mindset and competencies are of paramount importance, because they are indicative of the ability to develop into a responsible, high impact entrepreneur.


Our journey to greater effectiveness began with testing all the selection tools employed in our Scholarship and Fellowship programmes. We followed this with a qualitative review of our success profile framework and methodology.

Our initial findings revealed three critical insights. For a start, we learned that there was limited insight into our theory and rationale. For instance, we might select for resilience, but the theoretical link to this construct was weak. In fact, if you asked two different people to link resilience to high impact entrepreneurship, you’d receive two different responses.

Our second finding related to the lack of outcomes domains. We hadn’t provided an unambiguous definition of our outcomes, which meant that even though we were doing great work around entrepreneurial development, the impact of our initiatives couldn’t be measured in terms of predictive validity towards entrepreneurial performance and/or development. We therefore had to formalise the links between outcomes and constructs.

Finally, we found that the success profile competency framework lacked discriminant validity between our various constructs, and, in many cases, they overlapped.

The reasons for these areas of improvement were manifold; the relativeness newness and complexity of the field of entrepreneurialism being one of the most significant. There is, consequently, limited research available on the topic, especially pertaining to what makes an entrepreneur. This is particularly true of the age group targeted by the Foundation. Thus, our selection process was the most rigorous in place when it was first formulated, in spite of its shortcomings. Nonetheless, as a learning organisation, we were eager to address these and enhance the process wherever possible – as we will continue to do in the future.

Our quest for improvement meant that we had to return to the beginning, to take a fresh look at our theoretical and empirical roots and, in so doing, establish more clearly defined entrepreneurial competencies with a South African-centric focus.


The first phase of the project centred around generating a literature review and developing our entrepreneurial research survey. Using desktop research, we conducted an empirical analysis of both local and global data to identify 17 models of high impact entrepreneur-ship.

Next, we hosted a workshop with our reference group – which comprised external experts, internal stakeholders, and established entrepreneurs – to extract key competencies from these models.

We had now identified 19 key competencies, all of which had been shown to lead to entre-preneurial action. More than this, we also gleaned an understanding of where to pitch our entrepreneurial outcomes: where previously we had concentrated on CEO or conductor levels, we realised the need to establish a greater degree of involvement, earlier on in the entrepreneur’s journey. We therefore shifted our emphasis to start-up entrepreneurs, whose abilities may then be nurtured, allowing them to follow different paths.

We concluded this phase with a literature review, drafted by the University of Pretoria, which created conceptual and operational definitions of each competency and assessed the developability of each construct, also noting whether each could be measured. We now had a conceptual and operational definition for each construct, and a clear path on how to take each forward.

This led us to the second phase of the project: finalising our research survey on the 19 competencies. This included a survey on entrepreneurial action, so that we were better equipped to measure such action.

The entrepreneurial action scale (McMullen and Shepherd, 2006) consists of 17 items to measure the business start-up activities on a five-point Likert-type scale where respondents were asked to what extent they have engaged in the listed activities toward venture creation in the last three years, ranging from 1 (never) to 5 (always) (see Table 1). Entrepreneurial action was split into three constructs using the Exploratory Factor Analysis. The entrepreneurial outcomes for each entrepreneurial action phase are listed below.




we piloted the study among Allan Gray Fellows, then incorporated their feedback and refined our questionnaires before distributing them among our sample of 1°200 start-up and established entrepreneurs-noteworthy for being the third largest entrepreneur sample in South Africa. The hybrid nature of the sample is noteworthy, too, as accessing start-up entrepreneurs is difficult. We were aided in the data collec-tion process by a company that enjoys relationships with a number of entrepre-neurial agencies and institutions.

Once we had collected the data, it was time for analysis, a phase that took place between December 2018 and February 2019. One of our aims here was to refine the 19 competencies identified during the previous phase, narrowing them down to those which had been shown to be most closely aligned to entrepreneurial action.

We were now set up for Phase Three: moving data analysis from our respondents, using a structural equation modelling process. We also undertook statistical analysis to examine the strength of each construct compared to the entrepreneurial action outcomes, allowing us to target the constructs with the most significant relationships to entrepreneurial action.

The ultimate result? A scientific, empirical model that shows a good fit between 13 constructs. Further, the reference group who assisted throughout the research project, believed that as a precursor to opportunity assessment is opportunity recognition, which did not fall into the 13-competency model and subsequently decided to add Opportunity recognition as a competency.

This is important, because we now know beyond any doubt that if we select for certain constructs, and develop them, entrepreneurial action of some sort is guaranteed. Empirically tested and proven, these constructs now form the basis of the Foundation’s selection and development initiatives of its candidates and beneficiaries. Consequently, our already carefully formulated selection process has been enhanced by our increased knowledge of entrepreneurship, which has allowed for our more scientific approach.

Our scrutiny of all constructs and their relationship with entrepreneurial action was significant in another way, too: it confirmed findings from a previous study we conducted in partnership with the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI), where we had attempted to establish a growth mindset model. During this study, five competencies had emerged as key: a growth mindset, self-efficacy, locus of control, resilience and attribution theory. Interestingly, four of these (resilience, locus of control, growth mindset and self-efficacy) were once more revealed as statistically significant, reaffirming the model developed in collaboration with ELI and ensuring that we have now validated, and empirically tested, the constructs leading to entrepre-neurial action.


Having defined scientifically and empirically tested competencies required for successful entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial action at a startup level, we’re now poised to apply our research at high school and university level. This will enable us to develop candidates at these levels with optimal efficiency, so that they are able to kickstart their entrepreneurial careers as soon as they graduate from our programmes or best case, during.

Our way forward lies in using the research and customising the competencies to enhance the selection processes for our Scholarship and Fellowship programmes, and to ensure that we are developing each competency, for each individual, optimally.


Our final task lay in aligning our new entrepreneurial competency and mindset framework throughout the Foundation’s pipeline – and, moreover, ensuring that the results are available to our ecosystem partners.

This is, perhaps, one of the most important steps in the process, because the ramifications of our competency review are tremendous. Obviously, the outcomes hold clear advantages for the Foundation itself, enabling us to select candidates with far greater efficiency. What’s more, because we have established which competencies are trait-based and which are developable, we are able to nurture our candidates at different levels – and, if a certain competency is not greatly developed, candidates can learn which they can strengthen in order to become a more well-rounded entrepreneur. This insight is particularly heartening when it comes to the mindset constructs, as each of these can be developed. This gives credence to our belief that entrepreneurship is not an innate quality but can, in fact, be taught.

This study could help the entrepreneurship community understand why entrepreneurial intention does not always translate into action, because we know which specific mindsets and competencies are predictors of entrepreneurial action. These competencies can be measured using validated tools in various programmes for baseline data, which can then be used to tailor or customise development programmes for future entrepreneurs.

Moreover, helping entrepreneurs become aware of their entrepreneurial potential can allow them to enter the space with greater confidence, as the findings emphasise the role of personal development and self-mastery.

The implications for organisations and business owners are interesting, too, especially in terms of team recruitment, allowing companies to identify the complementary traits required to build an entrepreneurial, cohesive and effective team. These measures could also assist in profiling various types of entrepreneurs going forward.

Finally, entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators stand to benefit from our findings by applying the knowledge of which competencies to use when selecting participants. This affords accelerators greater clarity in terms of the traits they are looking for, as well as the traits that need to be developed.


Our research showed the following competencies to be crucial:


The ability to evaluate an opportunity and make a decision around it.

Conceptual definition:
The process of evaluating an idea, concept, or opportunity to determine whether there is sufficient strategic, market, and financial merit for continued consideration and possible development into a product. (Moris, et al. 2013)

Operational definition:
The ability of the entrepreneur to evaluate the opportunity before them and to make a decision regarding the opportunity. Testing a gut feeling of good versus not-so-good opportunities. (Baron, 2006; Haynie, Shepherd & McMullen, 2009)

Link to entrepreneurship:
Opportunity assessment increases the probability of entrepreneurial success, as the opportunity is analysed to ensure the performance of an identified opportunity. This can be developed by encouraging entrepreneurs to meet with the customer, review internal resources, develop a strategy, conduct a risk assessment and plan (OBrochta, 2001).

The developability:
Measuring elements in the window of opportunity and the viability of an opportunity can increase a person’s chances of becoming an entrepreneur. This is done by the opportunity assessment process that evaluates the viability and of profitability of the window of opportunity, an assessment of the opportunity over time and its long term viability (Lévesque & Maillart, 2008).

Can it be measured?
Yes. We used a scale developed by Moris et al. (2013) and obtained a Cronbach alpha value of 0.94.


The ability to identify problems, redefine them and create opportunities out of them.

Conceptual definition:
Creative problem solving is a skill that is based on the accumulation of effort, imagination, knowledge and evaluation of the problem (Turker & Sonmez Selçuk, 2009) (McMullen & Kier, 2017:2).

Operational definition:
Creative problem solving is described as the ability to identify problems, redefine the problems and create opportunities out of the problems by developing new and innovative solutions to problems (McMullen & Kier, 2017:2), (Morris et al., 2013:357).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Creative problem solving (CPS) builds entrepreneurial mindset. CPS is defined as seeking original ways to reach goals when the means to do so are not readily apparent. Entrepreneurship involves recognising a business opportunity, mobilising resources and persisting to exploit that opportunity. Esomonu (1998) defined entrepreneurship as the effective manipulation of human intelligence as demonstrated in a creative performance. This singular risk-taking act leads an individual to create something of value from practically nothing.

The developability:
Creativity and CPS can be developed by stimulating creative thinking and the ability to tap into one’s inventive side. This can be measured by determining how creative one is, how inventive, how often one comes up with novel ideas and the ability to identify opportunities (Hmieleski & Corbett, 2006).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Creative problem solving (creativity) scales have been developed and tested by (Kristiansen & Indarti, 2004), and obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.85.


The ability to be creative and turn ideas into reality.

Conceptual definition:
Innovation can be described as the development of a new idea, method or device (Dahlander & Jeppesen, 2014).

Operational definition:
The ability to turn imaginative and creative ideas into reality (Jain, 2011:130-139), Boyles (2012)

Link to entrepreneurship:
Innovation is the mechanism by which organisations produce the new products, processes and systems required for adapting to changing markets, technologies and modes of competition. Innovation represents today’s competitive advantage, supported by strong mainstream capabilities in quality, efficiency, speed and flexibility. Innovation can help firms play a dominant role in shaping the future of their industries. High performing innovators are able to maintain a giant juggling act of capabilities, and consistently bring new high-quality products to the market faster, more frequently and at a lower cost than competitors. Moreover, these firms use process and systems innovation as a way of further improving their products and adding value to customers. This combination creates a dynamic and sustainable strategic position, making the organisation a constantly moving target to competitors (Lawson & Samson, 2001).

The developability:
Innovation capability is proposed as a higher-order integration capability; that is, the ability to mould and manage multiple capabilities.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Innovation scales developed and tested by (Lukas & Ferrell, 2000; Mitchelmore & Rowley, 2010), obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.78. Innovation scales developed and tested by (Higgins, 1995), obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.70.


The ability to work through challenges.

Conceptual definition:
Resilience can be described as an entrepreneurs’ ability to face challenges and still persist (Ayala & Manzano, 2014:128).

Operational definition:
Resilience is measured through the capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to disturbances that threaten system function, viability, or development (Fisher, Maritz & Lobo, 2016:40).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Resilience, according to Tedeschi and Calhoun (2004:4), is an entrepreneur’s ability to continue living a resolute life, no matter the adversity or difficulties that are faced.

The developability:
Operational flexibility enables resilience through allowing the organisation to respond quickly and effectively to disruptions (Sheffi 2007). As such, the organisational capabilities offer the potential for adjustment under conditions of uncertainty and encompass the notion of innovation within organisational systems.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Resilience scales developed and tested by (Sinclair & Wallston, 2004) obtained a Cronbach alpha value of 0.69


The belief that, as an individual, you have control over your outcomes.The belief that, as an individual, you have control over your outcomes.

Conceptual definition:
Locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control (Lefcourt, 1991).

Operational definition:
To measure whether a person enjoys being in control of every aspect of their business (Spector, 1988).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurs tend to have a strong internal locus of control. Locus of control is a concept defining whether a person believes he/she is in control of his/her future, or someone else is in control of it. For example, we all know people who believe they have no control over their lives. They believe that what happens to them is dictated by outside forces.  People who feel they are victims of outside forces have an external locus of control – “it’s not my fault this happened to me.” By contrast, entrepreneurs have a very strong internal locus of control. They believe their future is determined by the choices they make (Hansemark, 1998)

The developability:
Rotter (1966) made a significant contribution to this tradition with the development of a “locus of control” construct. According to Rotter, an individual perceives the outcome of an event as being either within or beyond his or her personal control and understanding. In individualistic cultures we found an increased likelihood of an internal locus of control orientation. There was also support for the hypothesis that an entrepreneurial orientation, defined as internal locus of control combined with innovativeness, is more likely in individualistic, low uncertainty avoidance cultures than in collectivistic, high uncertainty avoidance cultures (Mueller & Thomas, 2001).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Locus of control scales developed and tested by (Spector, 1988) obtained a Cronbach alpha of a range from 0.91 to 0.94.


A drive to find out information without being prompted.

Conceptual definition:
Curiosity is the catalyst ingredient, which leads entrepreneurs to pry into status quo products and services to find new solutions to better solve customers’ problems. A sense of curiosity means you look at even the smallest problems and seek a better solution (Steyaert, Hjorth & Gartner, 2011).

Operational definition:
Curiosity arises when an entrepreneur is bored or interested in gaining additional information that is specifically linked to entrepreneurship. It is measured when a person is no longer comforted by the novel stimulus surrounding them and wants to find new opportunities or information necessary in business (Fletcher, 2011).

Link to entrepreneurship:
There is a link between entrepreneurial curiosity and entrepreneurship results in learning tasks related to entrepreneurship and the ability to incorporate new experiences to improve or develop a business.  Curiosity can further be described as finding answers which enable a person to improve decision making. An entrepreneur who has a high level of curiosity will be interested in understanding how the economy works, how to improve results and how business works (Fletcher, 2011).

The developability:
Curiosity is made up of perceptual curiosity (intellectual information), epistemic curiosity (experience) and operationalised international curiosity (new information of people). Entrepreneurial curiosity is the desire that drives the individual to learn how to perform specific tasks which are directly related to entrepreneurship, such as how to conduct market research, the development of new ideas, financial analysis, how to achieve and set goals and the use of marketing.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Curiosity scale developed and tested by (Fletcher, 2011) obtained a Cronbach alpha value of 0.94.


The extent to which an individual is committed to their personal or organisational values.

Conceptual definition:
This is a type of leadership that puts values into practice, where they act as guiding principles with regards to business and personal lives (Mussig, 2003).

Operational definition:
Examines the extent to which a person has values and how committed they are to follow those values (De Bruin & Buchner, 2010).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Generally, there is agreement that a vision is a pattern for a future; having elements of time and scope, it is values driven, has a purpose, and often evokes a mental image or picture that can be communicated (Bird & Brush, 2003). People with protean career attitudes are values-driven as they shape their careers according to their own internal values and beliefs (Uy, Chan, Sam, Ho & Chernyshenko, 2015). Entrepreneurship is the driving force in economic development throughout the world. Yet, some have argued that entrepreneurship is fundamentally a values-driven activity (Berger 1991; Lipset 2000).  Kilby (1993) notes that values are instrumental in advancing a constructive understanding of human behaviour and consequent change. Thus, it would seem that personal values should have important implications not only for the decision to pursue entrepreneurship, but the way in which the entrepreneur approaches a venture. Values reflect the entrepreneur’s conscious view of himself or herself (Feather 1990). In addition to this, the view (or belief) that one has about himself or herself directly shapes movement toward action, or one’s motives (McClelland 1961).

The developability:
What values will drive the company? And what will your role be in this organisation? The vision of your venture should be a short statement that can be easily communicated, or presented in an image (Brush, 2008). The values that the Foundation drives, can be developed.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Value driven scales developed and tested by (De Bruin & Buchner, 2010) obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.654.


The extent to which a person is willing to take action to solve a problem without being prompted.

Conceptual definition:
Action orientated is when a person is willing or likely to take practical action to deal with a problem or situation (Low, 2001).

Operational definition:
Measures the extent to which a person is willing to pursue development and hopefully a business (Frese, Kring, Soose & Zempel, 1996).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Action orientation or personal initiative is a proactive, self-starting, and persistent long-term orientation that attempts to shape environmental conditions (Frese, Kring, Soose, & Zempel, 1996); extending proactiveness to personal initiative which, over and above proactiveness, entails approaching business issues in a persistent and self-starting manner which forms the basis of entrepreneurship (Krauss, Frese, Friedrich & Unger, 2005)

The developability:
Action orientation can be measured by enquiring about attitudes and values concerning change and initiative, as well as about entrepreneurial intentions (Johannisson, Landstrom & Rosenberg, 1998).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Action orientation scales developed and tested by (Frese et al., 1996) obtained a Cronbach alpha between 0.67 and 0.87


The ability to identify, manage and take risks to improve the ultimate chance of success.

Conceptual definition:
Risk management/mitigation involves the systematic monitoring, assessing, hedging, transferring, and/or exploiting of multifaceted risks encountered as an innovation initiative unfolds (Baum et al., 1998)  (Pillay & Morris, 2016), (Thekdi & Aven, 2016:278)

Operational definition:
The successful identification and management of risks leading to a reduction in potential losses but still enabling the small business to pursue opportunities (Brustbauer, 2016:70; Murmann & Sardana, 2013:192).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Risk taking propensity makes it easier for the firm and the entrepreneur to adapt to environmental changes, consumer preferences, technological developments and competitor moves (Kellermanns, Eddleston, Barnett & Pearson, 2008:5). Risk taking management (Miller & Friesen, 1978:926; Park, Min & Min, 2016:122).

The developability:
Calculated risk taking involves a successful identification, coordinated valuation and prioritisation of risks in order to reduce, monitor and control the likelihood of an unforeseen event (Vonortas & Kim, 2015:122).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Calculated risk-taking scales developed and tested by (Morris et al., 2013) obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.826.


The ability to evaluate the potential to create new value for a client or organisation.

Conceptual definition:
Value creation is an integral part of the business model, as it is the process of pursuing new markets, new revenue streams and new business opportunities, while determining how the business products or services will create sufficient value for the customers (Bocken, Short, Rana & Evans, 2014:43; Teece, 2010:172).

Operational definition:
Evaluates the extent to which new value can be created by the entrepreneur in his business, products or services (Dyer et al., 2008).

Link to entrepreneurship:
At a societal level, the process of value creation can be conceived in terms of programmes and incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation intended to encourage existing organisations and new entrepreneurial ventures to innovate and expand (Lepak, Smith & Taylor, 2007).

The developability:
Business begins with value creation. It is the purpose of the institution: to create and deliver value in a way that is sufficiently efficient to ensure it generates profit after cost.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Value creation scales developed and tested by (Dyer et al., 2008), obtained a Crobach alpha between 0.74 and 0.78.


The ability to evaluate the potential to create new value for a client or organisation.

Conceptual definition:
The belief that intelligence is not fixed but can be developed is a comparably strong predictor of achievement, and exhibits a positive relationship with achievement (Dweck,2015)

Operational definition:
The growth of business activities is evident if entrepreneurs consider this a priority in their businesses (Gundry and Welsch, 2001).

Link to entrepreneurship:
The literature existing on entrepreneurship implicitly assumes that entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and growth orientation are positively related with each other.

The developability:
Some research has identified factors that enhance or reduce the willingness of the entrepreneur to grow the business. Factors include the strategic origin of the business (i.e., the methods and paths through which the firm was founded); previous experience of the founder/owner; and the ability of the entrepreneur to set realistic, measurable goals and to manage conflict effectively (Gundry and Welsch, 2001).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Growth mindset scales developed and tested by Dweck (2015) and Gundry and Welsch (2001), obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.86.


The ability to lead a group of people towards the attainment of a specific goal.

Conceptual definition:
The action of leading a group of people or an organisation (Yıldız et al., 2014).

Operational definition:
Leadership involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing the information, knowledge and methods to realise that vision, and coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stake-holders. A leader steps up in times of crisis and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations (Daft, 1999).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship is a special case of leadership (social leadership) and is distinguished from other forms of leadership because in this instance, the leader is one who created a company rather than manages an existing one. The underlying premise in entrepreneur-ship research is that it is the entrepreneur (that is, the leader) who makes the difference in new venture success, often through risk-taking propensity. (Cogliser & Brigham, 2004).

The developability:
No one is a born leader but everyone can develop leadership skills, and everyone can benefit from using them. The following steps may help to develop leadership:

  1. Communicate effectively.
  2. Keep everyone working toward agreed upon goals: ·
  3. Get to know the people around you
  4. Treat others as individuals
  5. Accept responsibility for getting things done
  6. Problem solves in a step-by-step way

Can it be measured?
Yes. Leadership scales developed and tested by (Rush, Thomas & Lord, 1977) obtained a Cronbach alpha of 0.74


An individual’s belief in her own ability to solve problems and achieve goals.

Conceptual definition:
Self-efficacy is a motivational construct that has been shown to influence an individual’s choice of activities, goal levels, persistence, and performance in a range of contexts (Zhao, Seibert & Hills, 2005).

Operational definition:
Self-efficacy appears to be similar to self-esteem, expectancy, locus of control, and attribution concepts of personality and motivation; however, self-efficacy beliefs emphasise an assessment capability (can I do this?) as opposed to a concern with outcome expectations (if I do this, what will happen?) (Urban, 2006).

Link to entrepreneurship:
Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in his or her innate ability to achieve goals. Self-efficacy is a construct first devised by Bandura (1977) in the psychological field, and is understood as the strength of people’s convictions of their own effectiveness in executing the behaviour required to achieve certain outcomes. People with a high level of self-efficacy tend to set challenging goals, persist even in the face of failure and approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than issues to be avoided (Botha & Bignotti, 2016). Entrepreneurs are known for having high levels of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy also has a very strong relationship with entrepreneurial intention (Thompson, 2009).

The developability:
Self-efficacy is a motivational construct that has been shown to influence an individual’s choice of activities, goal levels, persistence, and performance in a range of contexts.

Can it be measured?
Yes. Self-efficacy scales developed and tested by (Spector, 1988) obtained a Cronbach alpha value of 0.91


The ability to understand information and identify the potential of something to be of value.

Conceptual definition:
The capacity to perceive changed or overlooked possibilities in the environment that represent potential sources of profit or return to a venture (Morris, et al. 2013).

Operational definition:
This is based on the development of patterns that recognise the link between an identification of a business opportunity, measuring the ability to discern information and whether a person can identify the potential of something to be of value (Baron, 2006).

Link to entrepreneurship:
In earlier studies, opportunity recognition or identification was referred to as entrepreneurial intention. For example, Shaver and Scott (1991) state that entrepreneurs have the type of motivation to make the entrepreneurial process result in opportunity realisation, which is known as entrepreneurial intention or intent. Likewise, Krueger et al. (2000) found that the opportunity identification process is an intentional process and therefore also offers a means to better explain and predict entrepreneurship. The role of the entrepreneur in opportunity search and identification is controversial, because intention models posit that entrepreneurs intend to be entrepreneurs before they locate opportunities (Krueger 1993). In later studies, it is proposed that individuals with a stronger desire to be an entrepreneur will have the ability and competency to identify opportunities (Volery, Müller, Oser, Naepflin & Rey, 2013). Krueger (1993) associated self-efficacy with opportunity recognition, and Short, Ketchen, Shook, and Ireland (2010) later proved that self-efficacy is directly related to entrepreneurship, thus deducing that opportunity recognition and entrepreneurship have a bidirectional relationship.

The developability:
SThe pattern recognition of opportunity recognition is used as it integrates three factors into a basic framework that is comprised of assessing a person’s alertness to opportunities, prior knowledge of the industry and actively looking for opportunities. Pattern recognition helps explain why one person is able to identify certain opportunities and while others do not. Pattern recognition suggests specific ways in which an entrepreneur can be trained to identify opportunities (Baron, 2006).

Can it be measured?
Yes. Opportunity recognition scale developed and tested by Morris et al. (2013) obtained a Cronbach alpha value of 0.71 and 0.90.

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellows dominate award categories at the USAF Entrepreneurship InterVarsity Final

Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellows dominate award categories at the USAF Entrepreneurship InterVarsity Final


The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation enjoyed a strong presence at the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE), a division of Universities South Africa (USAf), Entrepreneurship InterVarsity Finals, with Candidate Fellows scooping awards in each of the competition’s four categories.

The Entrepreneurship InterVarsity Final took place on the 19th September. The initiative represents a collaboration between the Department of Higher Education and Training and Universities of South Africa through the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education Programme, and is supported by The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation , the SAB Foundation and Seda. The inaugural event aimed to identify, recognise and support entrepreneurship at student level, thereby encouraging studentpreneurs to take the next step towards entrepreneurial success. Each of South Africa’s 26 public universities took part in the challenge, with 1 155 valid entries received.

Candidate Fellow Mvelo Hlope of the University of Cape Town was named Studentpreneur of the Year, winning R50 000. Hlope also won the award for Best Existing Social Impact Business. The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Candidate Fellows further dominated the Innovative Business Idea category, which was won by Penang Shirindza of Rhodes University, while Denislav Marinov, also from UCT, was named winner of the Existing Tech Business award. Musa Maluleka from Wits University won the Existing General Business category. Each of these category winners took home R10 000 in prize money.

“We are extremely proud of our winners,” says Nontando Mthethwa, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Head of Public Affairs and Communication. “Obviously, winning these awards is a significant achievement in its own right, and an acknowledgement of the excellence that we believe is characteristic of our Candidate Fellows. From the Foundation’s point of view, the Candidate Fellows’ outstanding performance is an endorsement of our programme and proves the effectiveness and efficacy of our approach.”

Hlope’s win reflects the innovativeness of his gamified online platform ZAIO, which enhances problem solving skills and improves users’ employability by providing free access to training in software development and coding. This business idea speaks directly to AGOF’s goal of developing high impact entrepreneurs who have the potential to address social challenges while contributing to employment and job creation. Shirindza’s company is a digital advertising company called Urban Play, while Marinov’s DVM Designs produces 3D printing machines for use in industry. Maluleka won for his design of Disktjie, a soccer boot boasting innovative features, purpose built for the South African environment.

“It is an enormous privilege to be able to contribute to the development of South Africa’s economy by fostering tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. We are greatly encouraged by the success of the participants in the EDHE Entrepreneurship InterVarsity Finals, and look forward to seeing how our winning Candidate Fellows continue to shape the business space going forward. We’re also looking forward to playing a role in nurturing more winners. Watch this space!” Nontando Mthethwa concludes.

The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa

The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Entrepreneurs are always going to face challenges. That much is a given. But what about entrepreneurship itself? Are we, the stakeholders who are trying to create fertile ground for individuals who choose this route, destinated to have a similar struggle?

The answer to this question is critical, because it reveals much about the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa. And, at present, it’s an answer that gives cause for concern.

Never in South Africa has there been such a crying need for entrepreneurs who not only succeed, but who have the ability to positively impact and transform their community. However, at the same time, it’s clear that these people are not receiving the support that would allow this to become a reality.

This was highlighted during the State of the Nation Address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa during February. Although Mr Ramaphosa admittedly had a number of challenges that required urgent attention, the omission of entrepreneurship as a national priority was a glaring one. Unfortunately, this concept remains a “by the way” – and, as long as this is the case, our entrepreneurs will continue to struggle.

This is evidenced by the rate of growth in South Africa. Quite simply, the outcomes of entrepreneurship do not keep pace with the inputs.

Compare our playing field with that of other African countries, for example. By all accounts, we are to be envied: it appears as though our efforts and successes in the area of entrepreneurship exceed that of our peers in many instances. However – and this is the crux – our entrepreneurs seem doomed to fail. Yes, we record an impressive number of start-ups, but few of these translate into sustainable jobs. In fact, only 15% of our start-ups go the distance.

This means that entrepreneurship in South Africa is failing in one of the key areas where it is intended (and where it is sorely needed) to have the most impact: job creation.

One of the reasons for this failure is the lack of alignment between skills and ideas. Our entrepreneurs may have outstanding insights that allow them to identify niches with potential to become lucrative businesses, but they don’t have the skills to take the business from point A to Point Z.

At first glance, it may appear that the existence of such a gap is absurd, given the significant array of resources that have been established precisely to provide entrepreneurial support in South Africa. However, the resulting ecosystem is fragmented: yes, there is a wealth of information and infrastructure out there, but none of it addresses the entire spectrum of entrepreneurial support, from end to end.

Moreover, many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of where they are in their journey. Which source do they consult, if they don’t know where they are in their entrepreneurial career trajectory, and what this means in terms of their support requirements and potential company growth? These are not questions that can be answered with a quick reference to company profitability, business valuation and market size, because the entrepreneur’s experience is typically a dynamic one characterised by change, adaptation and iteration – all of which create complications when it comes to accurately predicting company growth. In an ideal world, an individual with entrepreneurial potential would have clear guidelines regarding the support sources available, and which would be the most appropriate and best placed to provide advice and skills based on their current and future developmental phases. But this is certainly not the case at present.

Government’s current focus on FET-related skills poses is a further obstacle. While this is, indeed, a progression from the notion that a professional career is the only (or, at least, the best) option for every individual, regardless of their aptitude, progress in putting in place a future-ready curricula that boosts critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence in addition to fast-tracking the attainment of digital and STEM skills that will enable the workforce of the future to participate in the digital economy – has been stagnant. After all, the digital economy is where the greatest opportunities for today’s entrepreneurs reside, and it is therefore crucial to ensure that they have the requisite skills to take advantage. Our present model does not allow for this, however.

Currently, we don’t have a clear picture of knowledge and skills acquisition as they relate to employment, and how these can be best harnessed to drive rapid innovation and optimise industrial growth. Consequently, the majority of skills development initiatives in place in South Africa are geared towards bolstering existing, established industries and trades – but, since a future shaped by Artificial Intelligence holds very little certainty for any industry, we have to acknowledge the need to take risks on unknown quantities. One way of doing this, is seeking out industries that have the potential to enable, derail or disrupt existing sectors. Difficult though this is – it is, after all, almost impossible to imagine a world that currently exists only in terms of “what ifs” – tools like systems-thinking and design thinking may help us identify the gaps and opportunities offering the greatest potential for entrepreneurial action.

Education is failing our entrepreneurs in other areas, too. We cannot ignore the coming impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our world; nor can we close our eyes to the fact that the industries which will prove most productive in the years to come probably don’t exist at present.

The skills required to gain mastery over these industries are, naturally, very different from those which served previous generations. But, then again, the people who will work in these industries have shown themselves to be very different, too. Just as workplaces were initially challenged to accommodate the personalities and tendencies of millennials – the pioneers of the ‘slashie’ or gigging generation, for whom it is commonplace to invest time and energy in a number of different jobs rather than pledging loyalty to an organisation – it’s likely that further adjustments will need to be made if we are to optimally harness the strengths of Generation Z.

On the one hand, and working in our favour, is the intrinsic entrepreneurial flair that seems to come naturally to many of this generation. However, they are also hampered by short attention spans. They are, moreover, more global in their thinking, and more individualistic, than any generation before them.

If we are to help them on their path to successful entrepreneurship, we need to take these differences into account and, perhaps most importantly, end our view of entrepreneurs as one-dimensional people.

At a more pragmatic level, entrepreneurial training in the future will need to go beyond focusing on the basic skills that are essential for starting a business. We will also need to tap into the values and motivations of individual entrepreneurs, while helping them leverage their social networks; perhaps one of the most important tools they’ll have at their disposal.

In other words, we need to steer clear of a blanket approach to teaching, and strive instead for methods that resonate on a more individual level. More than anything, we need to get young entrepreneurs thinking: not about the ventures that are most likely to succeed in financial terms, but which are most likely to solve the challenges currently facing our communities and societies.

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Fellowship programme has been carefully designed to address as many of these challenges as possible. Our chief differentiator, distinguishing us from other initiatives aiming to support entrepreneurs, regards the individuals selected to take part. Rather than honing in on people who have already established startups and require resources to ensure sustainability or take them to the next developmental phase, we target individuals who have displayed entrepreneurial flair, or who have the propensity to become an entrepreneur. We consider the metamorphosis – from potential entrepreneur to actual entrepreneur and, ultimately, entrepreneurial career – to be one of our greatest successes, because it means that people who otherwise would have followed traditional career paths (and thereby entrenched the current status quo) are instead given a chance to realise their full entrepreneurial potential.

That said, the Fellowship programme is neither prescriptive nor restrictive. It recognises that the most fulfilling careers are based on an “either and” rather than an “either or” mindset, and that career paths evolve over time. We accept that for some, entrepreneurship is a goal in itself; for others, it is a milestone that is part of a greater journey. We encourage participants to adopt a similar understanding of their careers, and the open-mindedness which develops as a result is a powerful motivator when it comes to taking risks and engaging with the process of starting a business. This milieu has allowed some Fellows to acquire the work experience required to establish their own start-ups, while others use their learnings from this environment to create a clearer idea of what kind of business they would ultimately like to create.

One of the instruments we have employed to nurture this mindset is the Dual Track Programme, introduced in 2018. Cognisant of the struggle for the many entrepreneurs who do not want to concentrate solely on academics or the theoretical side of entrepreneurial training, this initiative provides support for those who have already launched their own businesses, allowing them to take a sabbatical from their studies for a year to extend their degrees. The remarkable take-up of this programme pays credence to our belief that although entrepreneurship may well be an inherent skill, it can also be developed, provided the individual receives appropriate inputs, including opportunities for collaboration, personal mastery, networking and lifelong learning.

We have set up a variety of other tools to fashion a safe environment where they may flex their entrepreneurial muscles without fear of failure. These include the Ideation, Validation and Creation programme, our Accelerator programme and our annual jamboree, all of which are platforms for developing essential entrepreneurial skills and networking.

We have, furthermore, consolidated our learnings over the past 14 years, tweaking our curriculum to ensure a greater chance of success for our programme participants. Of most significance here is the abundance of information regarding entrepreneurship that has become available since the Foundation was first established in 2005. From being a relatively unknown quantity, entrepreneurship has become far better documented. Consequently, we have more accurate insights regarding the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, and how best to leverage these.

As a result, our programme has become considerably more structured. We have also adjusted the criteria of our Selection Camps to accommodate potential high impact entrepreneurs whose previously limited exposure may disadvantage them. In this, we have worked towards greater objectivity and consistency. With this in mind, we have, moreover, reviewed our successful profiles and application forms.

While these triumphs speak to the efficacy of our programme, we regard them not as our own successes, but as successes for the field at large – and, hopefully, we will see them create a springboard to boost entrepreneurship in future years.

Download infographic here

Greater rigour, greater impact

Greater rigour, greater impact

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is looking forward to a new era, integrating assessment processes and development processes for greater impact and enhancing the predictive value of tools.

When the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation was founded in 2005, it was with an eye to nurturing a culture of entrepreneurialism that would not only result in job creation; but which would also ultimately benefit the entrepreneurs’ communities. There is no doubt that it has been successful in these aims: now operating in four countries (South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia), the Foundation has received more than 33°000 scholarship applications, and funded over 3°500 years of education. Consequently, the Foundation has provided funding to more than 157 scholars to attend school at reputable high schools and has seen Fellows go on to establish businesses valued at over R1.5 billion, which have created 679 jobs.

However, in spite of this success, the Foundation identified a need to review its selection processes, ensure the validity and reliability of its tools, and entrench greater objectivity during the recruitment process, so that it could improve its results further still.

Download report here

Download infographic here

Fake News Statement

Fake News Statement

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has noted with great concern an article headlined: Allan Gray lends a hand to South African families with revolutionary Bitcoin Home Based Opportunity, published on a replicated version of online news platform Fin24 recently.

The article alleges that the founder of Allan Gray Investment, Mr Allan Gray “launched a revolutionary new business opportunity via his non-profit Allan Gray Orbis Foundation”. The article claims that Mr Gray invested R12 million into developing software that will enable South Africans to trade in cryptocurrencies.

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation would like to categorically state that the information presented in this article is false and can confirm that the Fin24 site – a business and finance platform that falls under the Media24 Group has been falsely recreated.

We condemn the spreading of fabricated news in the strongest terms and commit to continue protecting the integrity of our brand locally and internationally against these digital offenders.





It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

As part of our Allan Gray Orbis Legacy Project, the Year Experience Candidate Fellows partnered with Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) to promote multilingual literacy and a love for reading. As a year group, we value the power of education and cultural relevance in literary development. When looking for a partner to collaborate with, Nal’ibali was the perfect fit. The national organisation aims to foster reading-for-enjoyment among South Africa’s children by training adults to be reading role models and activists; raising awareness about the importance of reading for enjoyment; and producing, translating and distributing books and stories in all South African languages.

Our fundraising campaign ran over a number of months, and donors were given the opportunity to write a personalised inscription to the reader they were supporting. With the help and generosity of our network, we raised enough money to donate a mobile library and box of stationery to Chumisa Primary School in Khayelitsha.

At the hand-over event, we celebrated the efforts of Ms Gcotyelwa Gcogco Mwahleni, an isiXhosa and Creative Arts teacher, who founded a reading club at Chumisa. Sis’ Gcogco, as she is affectionately known, is a role model to the 30 students who attend her reading club each week. She encourages her learners to create plays from the stories she reads, helping to build their confidence and relate the concepts to their own lives. Through her efforts, the students have come to develop a love for reading, participating in community literacy programmes and spelling bee competitions.

Educators like Sis’ Gcocgo are heroes not only to their students, but to the country as a whole. They play a critical role in nurturing young potential and instilling self-belief in children who do not always come from supportive circumstances. We are honoured to recognise and celebrate her commitment to education, and to contribute the resources she needs to grow her reading club initiative.

As a year group, we believe that a legacy is not something that is left for people, but left in people. Through this campaign, we sought to leave a legacy in South Africa’s future readers and leaders, who we hope will grow to share their own stories of success. These narratives have the power to empower and transform communities, by inspiring children to believe in themselves, and that their dreams are possible.

After all, it all starts with a story.


Nal’ibali currently has 2 179 reading clubs active in all 9 provinces that reach 64 609 children. To date, it has trained 14 689 people to be reading champions for children/to support children’s literacy development. To find out more about the exceptional work that the organisation does, visit their website ( or Facebook page (@nalibaliSA).