An assessment of Durban as an entrepreneurial city.
The modern city is experiencing dramatic levels of migration of people from urban and rural areas, attracted to the economic growth and activity within cities. The migration originates not only in the hope of finding new employment but also in business opportunity, leveraging off the City’s entrepreneurial activity. However, the modern city’s entrepreneurial strength derives not only from the innovations of a few entrepreneurs, but also public investment to strengthen the City’s entrepreneurial profile and potential. It is suggested, therefore, that successful cities around the world are led by local government policy that supports business creation, thus building business communities. The aim of this study was to examine this notion of the entrepreneurial city. More specifically the research objectives were to: (1) develop a conceptualisation of an entrepreneurial city in the context of an emerging economy; (2) develop a set of indicators by which an entrepreneurial city may be measured; and (3) assess the perceptions of the City of Durban as an entrepreneurial city. In order to establish and define these indicators, fifteen key informants, were selected from amongst public and private sector institutions across the City of Durban. They were selected on their knowledge and their interest in ensuring that Durban is not only an attractive place to live and do business but that Durban becomes the most liveable city in South Africa. Depth interviews were conducted with the key informants, probing the indicators and attempting to generate new indicators. Overall, the findings showed the need for the City to adopt a holistic approach to economic development and promotion of innovation across the entire class of the City’s entrepreneurs. The consequences relate to the need to support entrepreneurs able to contribute to economic growth through exploitation of opportunity and not merely those focused on innovation and new ideas. Unlike advanced cities, where intellectual capital and innovation were found to have the highest average positive correlation with every other indicator, by contrast, demographics and liveability were found to have the highest average positive correlation with every other indicator. By contrast, intellectual capital and innovation were found to have almost the lowest average correlation with all other indicators. This suggests that Durban’s is reliant on small to medium enterprise growth rather than big business led by intellectual capital and innovation. Intellectual capital and innovation were found to correlate highly with policy arrangements at an 84% correlation, which suggests that public policy has a strong influence on innovation. This again contrasted with international studies of the world’s most competitive cities that found intellectual capital and innovation to correlate most strongly with health, safety and security, suggesting that the most globally competitive cities are found where residents are offered professional and personal surroundings that ensure their health and safety. These results revealed the need for greater investment in small business leading to recommendations for greater public investment in small to medium size start-up businesses.