Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

TSiBA Education

Igniting opportunity for entrepreneurs – integrating entrepreneurship training and business incubation

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 21 March, 2013 - 14:12


The Apartheid years has left a deep divide between the rich and the poor in South Africa. Education is universally recognised as the most sustainable way of promoting a more equal society as it empowers individuals with broader skills and opportunities to participate as active economic citizens.

The Tertiary School in Business Administration (TSiBA) provides an innovative and comprehensive solution to address inequality in a sustainable manner. TSiBA , which means ‘to leap’ in Xhosa, is a unique, private, not for profit, higher education institution that offers quality education to young people who would otherwise not have access to tertiary education. In addition, the associated Ignition Centre supports start-up businesses and prospective entrepreneurs from low socio-economic communities by providing basic training, infrastructure and networking opportunities.

TSiBA’s mission is to be an innovative learning community that graduates entrepreneurial leaders who ignite opportunity and social change. The pedagogical approach to student development concentrates first on student attitude, then on developing their skills and knowledge, and finally on ensuring that they have the practical experience of starting, incubating and managing a business.

The school offers two levels of higher education:

  1. A bridging year Higher Certificate in Business Administration
  2. An accredited Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a focus on entrepreneurial leadership.

To ensure that economic disadvantage is not an impediment to accessing tertiary education, every applicant is given a full tuition scholarship. Funding is sourced from private institutions, individuals, corporates, and foundations so that students do not need to pay back their scholarships. Alongside academic tuition, students receive psycho-social mentoring, counselling and daily meals.

TSiBA’s unique entrepreneurship curriculum

One of the unique and differentiating features of TSiBA’s curriculum is the emphasis it places on developing students’ applied business skills and attitudes. At TSiBA, entrepreneurship is not merely an academic classroom subject; it is a behaviour that can be applied to solve real problems. Students are given the opportunity to practically develop their creativity, to take risks and to succeed/fail, and to search for applied and viable solutions to societal problems. Accordingly, the certificate and bachelor’s degrees are structured to introduce students early on to the practicalities of running a business.

At the foundation level, the Higher Certificate in Business Administration is focused on developing an entrepreneurial mind-set to unlock creativity and innovation, and on providing an introduction to the real world of grassroots community entrepreneurship. During this foundation course, students are given R20 to fund a mini business. Students who go on to study towards the Bachelor’s degree, are expected to generate a turnover of at least R20,000 by their final year.

The Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA) is a three-year degree program.

BBA year-1: Experiential challenges and Theory

BBA year-2: Execution intelligence

BBA year-3 ‘Intrapreneurship’, Innovation and Knowledge Management 

During the second year of the BBA degree program, five or six candidates team up to develop a business plan and elevator pitch. These are presented to the entrepreneurship lecturer and colleagues. The pitches are assessed and the top three proposals are rewarded with start-up funds of R500, R300 and R100 to help fast-track operations.

All the prospective student businesses are then issued with 100 share certificates, which students sell to investors, both on and off campus, at R50 each. TSiBA purchases two shares in each venture. At this point, public companies are formed and the businesses open campus bank accounts at TSi-Bank.

Each student business is allocated a mentor who volunteers his/her time and expertise to TSiBA. Mentorship is integral to the TSiBA support model. Students also have personal mentors. Furthermore, BBA students participate in peer discussion and presentation session where they can benefit from insight from their peers. In these sessions, students present business reports on their activities and progress to the other peer students. Where there are problems in a business, other students are encouraged to provide suggestions and solutions.

The TSiBA small business Ignition Centre

In addition to the TSiBA Entrepreneurship curriculum associated with the certificate and Bachelor’s degree program, the Ignition Centre was created to support start-up businesses and prospective entrepreneurs from low-income communities. Individuals representing these small businesses do not need to enrol in the certificate or Bachelor’s degree program. However, TSiBA students are encouraged to become involved in these businesses while they are studying by working as voluntary interns, or by using the businesses as case studies for special projects.

The TSiBA Ignition Centre addresses the two major factors that inhibit the growth of small, micro and medium enterprises in South Africa today: lack of resources and insufficient managerial talent. Its mission is to be an innovative mentoring community that develops confident entrepreneurs who earn sustainable livelihoods, create jobs and drive economic and social prosperity.

The Ignition Centre’s support model is grounded in FOUR Key Elements:

  1. Provide Business Mentorship 

Business Mentorship is foundational to the Ignition Centre Support Model. The mentorship journey ideally includes a number of processes:

  • Interview and assessment of potential entrepreneurs: All potential entrepreneurs are afforded an interview with a business consultant to carefully assess their business ideas. Based on the outcome of this interview, entrepreneurs are guided through the appropriate levels of support offered by the centre.
  • Regular recorded mentorship sessions: The mentor and a group of mentees usually meet on a weekly/fortnightly basis to facilitate the evolution of the small business from the critical start-up and early stage phases to that of a successful and profitable operation. These interactions are recorded and the parties provide the Ignition Centre with monthly progress reports detailing agreed deliverables, time-frames, specific challenges, achievements and the state of health of the relationship.            
  1. Ensure Basic and Advanced Business Skills

Although most prospective entrepreneurs who approach TSiBA for assistance have viable business ideas and are motivated to participate in the economy to uplift both themselves and their communities, they lack fundamental business know-how and competencies. Simply providing resources without adequate training and mentoring would be setting the prospective entrepreneurs up for failure. The Ignition Centre offers the following courses to these prospective entrepreneurs:

  • Business Essentials: overview of the necessary aspects of starting and running a small business.
  • Computer Literacy: introduction to the core competencies expected of entrepreneurs and job seekers.
  • Career Education: mapping out the steps necessary to search, find and land a job in the current economic environment.
  • Personal Financial Literacy: concerning banking, investment, savings, the power of credit and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Business Plan Writing
  • Marketing and Sales

Improve access to facilities and vital infrastructure

One of the major barriers to entry for start-up entrepreneurs is access to facilities and infrastructure.  The TSiBA Ignition Centre attempts to close this gap by providing an environment which is conducive to small business development. This includes making available professional office space and meeting facilities that are equipped with office equipment such as a computer, printer, telephone, desk, and chair. On campus, small businesses have access to a fully-equipped internet café with free internet connectivity, a well-stocked library, a business address, company e-mail, and web-hosting services; and they can use the available software/support to create their business identity materials such as business cards, flyers, etc.

  1. Facilitate Networking

At TSiBA we understand that business success and being linked into networks are synonymous. Business owners who work in the townships often do not have easy access to markets for their services and products. Cultural differences, low communication confidence and a lack of understanding business expectations prevent entrepreneurs from successfully integrating into the kind of networks they need. Many small business owners also work in relative isolation. By connecting with likeminded entrepreneurs, they able to share knowledge and learn from each other’s experiences. The Ignition Centre facilitates networking in a number of ways:

  • Hosting quarterly open networking breakfasts for TSiBA-supported entrepreneurs and anyone else interested in learning about the Ignition Centre.
  • Helping entrepreneurs identify the size and importance of their existing network.
  • Exposing entrepreneurs to potential business opportunities at TSiBA events, open days and market days.
  • Linking entrepreneurs with each other and potential clients through the TSiBA Entrepreneurship Centre blog (www.tsibaec.blogspot.com) and the TSiBA quarterly newsletter.


307 Forest Drive Extension, Pinelands, Cape Town Western Cape South Africa

 (021) 532-2750


In Short

Through this learning brief you can learn about integrating a formal, higher-education entrepreneurship curriculum with a small business incubation centre for the benefit of entrepreneurs in low-income settings.

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