SIHMA | Scalabrini Institute For Human Mobility In Africa

Exploring Small Business Development using the Area Sector Analysis Process (ASAP) - UPDATE

A research opportunity allowed Prajna Naidoo to pursue an experience as an intern at the Scalabrini Center in Cape Town (SCCT) to understand the inner workings of the Employment Access Business Development Program and its clients, in pursuit of her degree. Below are the preliminary results of her research: 

Introduction and Purpose:

Reviewing the Small Business Development course curriculum, grant application process, mentorship strategies, and digital literacy course has given this research a well-rounded lens into the professional ambitions and challenges of foreign nationals in South Africa seeking to promote their employability. Drawing from these experiences and observations, a reflective survey was created to capture data on the social, entrepreneurial, and environmental context of small business development entrepreneurs in this program. The aim of this project is to allow the responses from these surveys to inform program coordinators about the available resources, capital, infrastructure, and skills within client communities to assist with coordinating curriculums and skills development strategies. For future research purposes, its model can be easily replicated to allow Scalabrini’s business development program to embed this personalized and targeted monitoring and evaluation strategy into future client cohort processes.

Types of Businesses SBD Clients Are Involved In

Due to the barriers to employment for foreign workers in South Africa, many have resorted to establishing their own businesses. The three main sectors that clients at Scalabrini’s SBD program are involved in include: fashion, food, and services. Within the fashion and clothing sector, clients are participating in sewing, design, leather crafts, and fashion trading. In the food sector, clients are involved in baking, cooking, and event catering. And within the services sector, clients are practicing in plumbing, printing, internet serves, business management, and therapeutic massage healing.

Client Demographics

Of the total 22 respondents who completed the SBD’s version of ASAP’s skills and assets survey, about 50% have a graduate school education, 75 % are female, 90% are originally from the DRC, and all clients range between the ages of 29-53. Since women make up majority of small business entrepreneurs in this context, programs should also consider how to address business development challenges under a gender-based lens. Furthermore, many have had access to higher-levels of education and are academically qualified, indicating advanced cognitive processing skills and critical thinking. While some of those qualifications may be difficult to transfer into South African standards, to avoid losing those skills, one could foster them into their business development strategy but ways of doing this need to be further explored.

Client Business Visions

The success of these businesses largely depends on facilitating community and relational networks and partnerships to support business activities. Clients were asked about their visions for their business and the steps they believe are necessary to achieve those visions. The data found a lot of overlap between client visions and processes to accomplish them. One third of all respondents incorporated assisting others with mentorship and skills training into their visions. Approximately the same number of clients reported that they require such mentorship and training to achieve their visions. For example, a client reported that their vision is to provide training to other woman in the future and another client said that they need more mentorship and training from other professionals. This suggests that this group of participants are clients that are both in need of training and are willing to train others, which is a major strength in the program.

A simple survey process could identify how clients can match each other’s needs and be paired together to assist one another in their entrepreneurship which may also ease the capacity of the program itself. The SBD program could facilitate mentorship and training opportunities by teaching clients how to teach others within their workshops. This can allow the skills distributed by the program to be extended to client networks and communities that are beyond its reach.


Read the full preliminary report here: 



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