Factors influencing the development of productive entrepreneurial behaviour among university students.
Memani, Mzwanele Mbonisi.
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South Africa experiences high levels of unemployment and poverty with an official unemployment rate at around 25%. In order to solve this malaise, entrepreneurship has played a very important role to job creation, poverty reduction and creation of sustainable communities. Literature review indicates that most developed and developing countries have embarked on strategies that develop new businesses which are innovative and present growth prospects. The emphasis is on innovative activities that benefit the entire society and these fall under productive entrepreneurship. The other types of entrepreneurship are unproductive and destructive; and these refer to activities such as crime and rent-seeking as they only benefit the entrepreneur but harm the society. Literature review suggests that the tertiary institutions play an important role in stimulating innovation and growth of new ventures. The university students are perceived to be more instrumental in starting these innovative ventures than their unskilled or less educated individuals. Other than the exposure they get at their tertiary institutions, university students can also be exposed to productive entrepreneurship from their family and community environments. Against this background, the objective of this research was to investigate the factors that influence the development of productive entrepreneurial behaviour among university students. The respondents were identified by means of convenience sampling and in total 350 questionnaires were completed by the students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg, Howard and Westville campuses. Given that the purpose of the study was not to generalise about the student population, only descriptive statistical analyses was used. The results of this research show that students consider entrepreneurship to be very important to the stimulation of economic growth leading to job creation and poverty reduction. Students had positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship as they perceived that it was more beneficial to start an own business and determine own salary rather than become an employee with job security. However, students were not likely to start a business immediately after graduation, given limited understanding and knowledge of running a business. More students admitted that their parents did not own a business and had never worked in a small business. Despite this lack of exposure within their family and community backgrounds, a significant number of respondents were exposed to entrepreneurship by the education system. The respondents highlighted that the tertiary institutions, in particular, had a major role to play in cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit among university students. Given that parties such as government, universities and the private sector tend to work independent of each other, and thereby lessening their impact; the results suggest that these parties need to work together to design initiatives that would have a greater impact for potential graduate entrepreneurs.