Entrepreneurship requires important elements to consider the eradication of poverty, unemployment and inequality. This was the sentiment of Mr Adriano Campolina, the Chief Executive of ActionAid International, on Thursday, 19 November 2015.
Speaking at the 2nd Dr Richard Maponya Annual Lecture, in partnership with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Mr Campolina pointed out that the establishment of a strong social policy is essential for sustainable entrepreneurship. “Prioritising education and health rights, provision of vocational and technical training, job creation, access to land and credit are key factors that contribute to economic growth,” he said.
As part of the international celebrations for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in 2015 (16 – 22 November), Mr Campolina engaged an audience of 500 small and medium business owners in Gauteng. He narrated the success story of how Brazil managed to support its entrepreneurs, thus drastically changing the lives of many Brazilians to a better quality of life. “Dialogue enabled the economic change that happened in Brazil,” he stressed.
Using Brazil’s farmers as an example, he highlighted that 85% of them are small and medium farmers who control 30% of land in the country and produce 60% of the food that the Brazilians consume daily, while farmers who control 60% of the land produce less food.
“This moved more than 15 million people from extreme poverty to middle class income earners. The State played an important role in changing policy, creating jobs, providing decent pay, and supporting entrepreneurship,” said Mr Campolina.
Mr Campolina, who started his professional career as dairy farmer working with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in country-side Brazil where he was born, said that what Brazil has achieved in transforming the lives of its citizens was done in 10 years of planning and engaging all facets of its society to eradicate poverty and create a booming middle class population through entrepreneurship.
The Brazilian government provided vocational and technical training to locals and 60% of the people that went through training have decent jobs and have become business owners. “Eighteen million jobs were created between 2002 and 2012, every school has a meal scheme that provides two meals to learners per day. The food these learners consume is from the local farmers and businesses in the areas where the schools are located – this created a market for the farmers, and as such improving the economy,” said Mr Campolina.
He urged that civil society, business associates, and various organisations must come together to provide solutions to challenges. “Transformation is key. We should understand entrepreneurship in conjunction with fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality, and not treat it in isolation,” emphasised Mr Campolina.
Also speaking at the lecture, Dr Maponya echoed Mr Campolina sentiments adding that all South Africans – from politicians to the ordinary citizens and business people – must declare war against poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality.
Dr Maponya, inspired by the Brazilians’ success story, concluded that “If Brazil could do what they have done to improve the lives of their countrymen of over 200 million, surely South Africans can also do it.”