Exploring the relationship between work and learning within small business development
Lombard, Ferdinand Anthony
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Continuous learning has been identified as a key element for SMMEs to succeed in their drive to build productive capacity, to compete, to create jobs and to contribute to poverty alleviation in South Africa. Without the necessary business skills and insight, emerging entrepreneurs will not be able to run their business successfully. Therefore, emerging small business owners especially those in rural areas attend the general, basic, government-subsidized courses provided by non-profit organizations.To ensure that learning is being transferred to the workplace, the Western Cape Business Development Centre (WCBDC) applies the concept of mentoring as a follow-up programme. In layman’s term, a business mentor refers to someone who is experienced in business, trustworthy and professional, trained and up-to-date in their advice.The goal of the research was to evaluate the impact of the WCBDC’s mentoring program on the development of marketing skills of an established small business. I did a case study on one of the successful small businesses in Saldanha, The Marine and Industrial Coaters (MIC), whose owners have attended the Western Cape Business Development Center’s (WCBDC) entrepreneurial development program and then enrolled for its business mentoring programme.Since the mentoring programme commits a substantial amount of resources to mentoring and requires a lot of time from the WCBDC, it is of interest to see whether the expected goals of the mentoring programme – to enhance the entrepreneurs’ business skills and to lead entrepreneurs to business growth – are achieved. I have focused on the development of marketing skills and found that the entrepreneurs’ marketing knowledge and skills did developed as a result of the programme. More efforts need to continue to sustain the existing momentum. However, success in implementing the mentoring programme will depend on essential factors such as selfdirected learning, facilitative and multiple mentoring, application of both psychosocial and career mentoring functions, and shared accountability and responsibility of both mentee and mentor.
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