About Us


Project Background

Improving student entrepreneurship support at South African universities in order to mitigate youth unemployment

The SES Assessment Tool has been developed within the context of a larger project titled: Improving student entrepreneurship support at South African universities in order to mitigate youth unemployment

South Africa as a country experiences some of the highest levels of unemployment in the world, which is especially problematic for the youth and graduating students. Entrepreneurship in general, including student entrepreneurship, is seen as a solution to these high levels of unemployment. However, as student start-up numbers remain stagnant in South Africa, the effectiveness of university-based student entrepreneurship support is questioned.

Against this background, this international collaborative project was initiated in 2020 between Nelson Mandela University, the University of Pretoria and Ghent University (Belgium).

The project was funded by VLIR-UOS, an organisation that supports partnerships between universities in Flanders (Belgium) and the Global South. VLIR-UOS typically fund projects that focus on innovative ideas to address global and local challenges. Thus, our project aimed to identify and disseminate best practices in university-based student entrepreneurship support at South African public universities.

Project objectives:
  1. Assess the state of university-based student entrepreneurship support at South African public universities;
  2. Identify best practices in terms of university-based student entrepreneurship support;
  3. Present the best practices in the form of a project report and cases;
  4. Develop a Student Entrepreneurship Support Assessment Tool; and
  5. Provide supporting documents for the SES Assessment Tool.
Course Features
  • Lectures
  • Duration
    69 hours
  • Skill level
  • Language
  • Location
    95 South Park Avenue, NY
  • Students

Meet Our Team

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team member
Local Promotor, Project Coordinator, Researcher

Professor Farrington is a Professor in the Department of Business Management at the Nelson Mandela University. She has over 25 years of lecturing and research experience in the fields of Small Business, Family Business and Entrepreneurship. She lectures at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and has supervised over 20 postgraduate research projects at Masters and PhD levels. She has authored 46 accredited journal articles and has presented more than 100 papers at international and national conferences. She is a National Research Foundation (NRF) rated researcher and is an active member of the NMU Family Business Unit.

team member
Lead Researcher

Riyaad Ismail is a PhD researcher in the Department of Management at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). He completed his Master’s Degree Cum Laude at Nelson Mandela University (South Africa), focusing on student entrepreneurship support at South African public universities, for which he received the award for the best overall masters student in the School of Management Sciences. His research interests include international entrepreneurship, organizational sponsorship (e.g., business incubators, business centres) and student entrepreneurship. His PhD research focuses on (student) entrepreneurial intention, and internationalization behavior.

team member
Consultative Team Member

Dr Alex Bignotti heads ANSES, the African Network of Social Entrepreneurship Scholars, a scholarly community aiming to advance social entrepreneurship teaching and research in Africa and facilitate the training of scholars in the same field. Alex is currently a senior lecturer in social entrepreneurship at the University of Pretoria. He has a keen interest in entrepreneurship as a catalyst for social change. His work currently focuses on social entrepreneurship, especially in an African context. Under the same research umbrella, his earlier work has also focussed on entrepreneurial intentions, entrepreneurial personality and entrepreneurship education, especially with a focus on the youth and disadvantaged individuals.

team member
Consultative Team Member

Saskia Crucke is an Assistant Professor at Ghent University. She received her PhD in Business Economics from Ghent University and the University of Antwerp in 2016. Her research topics are corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship and sustainable HRM. Her research has been published in several academic journals, including the Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of Business Ethics and Environment and Behavior.

team member
Flemish promoter, consultative Team Member

Mirjam Knockaert is an Associate Professor at Ghent University and visiting professor at the Technical University of Munich (Germany). She received her PhD in Business Administration from Ghent University in 2005. Her research interests are with entrepreneurship, specifically entrepreneurship in teams, corporate governance and academic entrepreneurship/technology transfer. Her research was published in international journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Small Business Economics and Journal of Management Studies.

team member
Consultative Team Member

Jacob Vermeire is a guest Professor in entrepreneurship at Ghent University and received his PhD in business economics from Vlerick Business School in Belgium. With a background in organisational psychology, he studies entrepreneurship as a development tool for people in vulnerable contexts. Recently, Jacob also started a social enterprise in Rwanda focused on the production of coffeeware from coffeewood.

During his period as doctoral and postdoctoral researcher, he lived one year in rural South Africa (2015) and one year in Rwanda (2020), where he conducted qualitative fieldwork among entrepreneurs who are facing extreme scarcity. Jacob published his work in Organization Science, Journal of Management Studies and Africa Journal of Management, among other international peer-reviewed journals.

Project Methodology

The research design and methodology adopted are summarised below:

Data collection techniques:
  1. Desk research
  2. Online semi-structured interviews
  3. Observations

Individuals interviewed:
  1. A member of top management (Deputy-Vice Chancellor or Dean) who is knowledgeable about, involved in or tasked with student entrepreneurship issues
  2. A staff member who has been tasked to promote student entrepreneurship
  3. A staff member at the incubator who deals with student entrepreneurs
  4. A staff member at the TTO
  5. An academic involved in entrepreneurship education
  6. Student entrepreneurs (identified and recommended by student entrepreneurship promotor)

Underpinning theories:
  1. Systems theory
  2. Organisational design theory

Conceptual framework:

Project Outputs

The various project outputs are available below:

Improving Student Entrepreneurship Support at South African Universities in order to Mitigate Youth Unemployment
View Report
Case 1
Case Study
University Environment, Culture and Co-curricular Entrepreneurship Support Activities
View Case
Case 2
Case Study
Elements in the Internal Entrepreneurship Environment
View Case
Case 3
Case Study
Collaborations and the External Entrepreneurship Environment
View Case
Formal Entrepreneurship Education at SA Public Universities – Exploratory Insights
View Paper
IBC Conference Paper
Working Paper
Improving Co-Curricular Entrepreneurship Support for South African Students
View Paper
Co-Curricular Student Entrepreneurship Support at South African Public Universities
View Article
Student Entrepreneurship Support at South African Universities
View Masters

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