With the country’s worsening high youth unemployment rate, experts are calling on government to revise the curriculum so that the education system can equip and empower learners with skills that will enable them to create instead of looking for jobs.
And Lebohang Masoabi is one of those people well-placed to help address this challenge by creating a pool of young entrepreneurs. Not only is Masoabi passionate about entrepreneurship but she is also eminently qualified to concretely contribute towards the realisation of a dream to get young people to become entrepreneurs.
She has just received her MA degree specialising in Business Management late this month. This is in addition to her BA Corporate Marketing and Communications and BA Hons in Business Management degrees, all from the University of the Free State (UFS).
Her study focused specifically on the role of entrepreneurship education and looked into how to motivate the youth to pursue business studies. A critical element of this included changing their attitude and mind-set to believe in their own agency.
Masoabi said when she came up with the topic of her study she was concerned that many students pursuing entrepreneurship did not know how to apply the knowledge after they graduated. She said although some students went on to start businesses they lacked the required skill and know-how. Masoabi said she discovered that entrepreneurship education had a positive influence on the intentions of students who had entrepreneurship background.
Said Masoabi: “Entrepreneurship teaches you to cultivate unique skills and to think out of the box. It creates opportunities, which is necessary in a country like ours. If students are given the skills and background of entrepreneurship – with the right opportunities and confidence they get from us as lecturers – they are able to influence their surroundings.”
Her MA degree did not mean Masoabi will stop to continue her studies; she is currently pursuing her PhD in social entrepreneurship. “Part of why I started this journey was because of the hope that was given to me as a student at the UFS, the hope that I can be whatever I want to be. This master’s degree is my message of hope to someone looking at my life.”
But it was not plain sailing for her; for instance, it took her five years to complete a two-year qualification. She said: “It’s been a long journey, and I really have been through a lot to get to this point. Along the way, I lost hope and was ready to give up, but I remembered why I started. Being an academic has always been a dream of mine, and I want to be the best at that, so I remembered that this was my dream, something that I love.”
Masoabi said she cannot believe that she is passing on the knowledge she gained from the very institution where her academic journey began. She hailed UFS as “one of the most awesome institutions” and that she is proud to be an employee there. Said Masoabi: “At one point I was on the receiving end and knowledge was transferred to me, and now I am on the other side transferring that very same knowledge. Now that I am here, I want more. I see myself becoming Professor Lebohang Masoabi one day.”