What is it?

Future Proof Enterprise Leaders for Africa (FPELA) is a unique 18-month project combining

  • skills development that leaders need to navigate the demands of the 21st century
  • with practically focused green enterprise development training
  • and critical information about environmental issues, including climate change adaptation, that are affecting people’s everyday lives.

Leaders emerge with:

  • an investor-ready business plan focused on a “green” enterprise that supports the triple bottom line—people, planet and prosperity
  • support to launch their enterprise either through grants or loans
  • a new set of critical thinking skills and basic entrepreneurial skills for operating a business
  • a fresh, creative, flexible way of interacting with the world and supporting their communities.

What makes leaders future proof?

Current research on leadership philosophies, such as Jessie Sostrin’s model, indicates seven key skills needed to navigate the uncertain waters of this time.  He says that if leaders embody these seven skills, they will be able to succeed and respond innovatively no matter what arises; they will be “Future Proof”.  Our curriculum is designed to help participants fully integrate these skills into how they operate in their personal and professional lives and includes elements of proven strategies that work in cross-cultural contexts.

The model

  • Based on proven international frameworks such as Human Centered Design, Asset Based Community Development and Mercy Corps International’s Small Business Foundations courses. 
  • Designed with rural community members as active participants in the research and development
  • Business readiness workshops pre-course to develop basic skills needed for the course
  • Extended mentoring post-course (9 months vs. the usual 6-8 weeks)

Our business enterprise development curriculum offers leaders the skills, knowledge and insight to incorporate the “Triple Bottom Line” into their business ventures: Prosperity, People, Planet.

Building on the success of the Acornhoek Leadership Forum, we plan to offer the first class of FPELA training in 2018 with 30 people from Acornhoek. Successful candidates will have a business or not-for-profit idea, be able to write and speak English, have basic Maths proficiency and firmly commit to the 18-month curriculum.  Selected participants who successfully launch an eco-enterprise and demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit and an affinity for facilitating, will be trained to become facilitators of the curriculum, so it can be offered in indigenous languages. This core group will actively participate in teaching and developing the first series.

The program begins with four Business Readiness Workshops, open to anyone with an interest in FPELA and enterprise development:

  • Workshop #1 is an introduction to FPELA, a course overview and conversations about climate change adaptation, open to the public
  • Workshop #2 is an introduction to Entrepreneurial Skills
  • Workshop #3 focuses on Exploring your Business Idea
  • Workshop #4 is about Refining Your Business idea

As well as introducing FPELA and the course overview, the purpose of these Business Readiness Workshops is to teach a broader audience about climate change and adaptation (in the first workshop). In addition these, Workshops will assess potential participants’ readiness and also act as a screening tool, as assignments need to be completed before people attend the next level. The workshops will take place over a three-month period.

Following the completion of the four workshops, the 30 candidates who are selected and committed to the full course will begin monthly meetings.  The business coursework will continue to unfold over the 6 months following, with leadership and environmental principles imbued throughout the coursework activities.

Participants will also learn to use a process to unearth and work effectively with the cultural factors that affect their businesses (extending credit, family and friends involvement, loan sharks, etc.). Following completion of the course, participants will have mentors available to them for another 9 months to help implement their business plans and will form a network of other ecopreneurs who support each other in business strategies and problem solving.   From past experience, we have seen this type of support to be necessary for implementing projects on the ground. We also plan to raise funds for seed money to startup their enterprises through grants or loans.

Supporting aspects

Participants will be required to research successful and interesting businesses locally and further afield, to create relationships with supportive business people who will become mentors to FPELA participants. We will also be inviting experts to address participants throughout the curriculum.

Business Development Hub

We are in conversation with other NPOs about creating a small business hub in Acornhoek.   This will enable us to have a “one-stop shop” where people can access business mentors, resources, or utilise office space. This hub will be paired with Zingela Ulwazi’s website which will houses a range of online resources and profiles of FPELA participants, mentors and expert advisors.

Most enterprise development programs taking place in South Africa target people living in or near to urban areas.  FPELA is designed to work with rural communities that are under-resourced and have few opportunities available to actually make substantive changes in their lives.

How you can be involved

Ecopreneurs are ready and waiting! We have a waiting list of eager ecoproeneurs (to see some of their profiles click here) already committed to the program. Please contact us to include FPELA in your CSI portfolio.

  • We are inviting companies, organizations and individuals to sponsor a candidate’s scholarship. South African companies will receive a Section 18A invoice and Level 1 B-BBEE credit.
  • We are seeking startup money to run the initial 18-month course.
  • We are seeking successful entrepreneurs who want to serve as mentors for our ecopreneurs.
  • We are seeking funding to provide microloans and grants to support the startup of participants’ new businesses.

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