Can smaller organisations make a bigger difference than large corporates in turning young, disadvantaged South Africans into potential business leaders?
Most large corporates now have well-developed leadership mentorship programmes in place and are indeed incubating the next generation of business people with some success.
However, by nature, mentorship is a highly personal process, dependent on a few executives giving of their time and knowledge. Consequently, no matter how large the organisation, the numbers of those being mentored is comparatively small.
At Musa Capital, a private equity and advisory firm that specialises in using innovative financial instruments to catalyse economic growth at grass roots throughout Africa, there are less than thirty employees. But, in the past four years, the firm has nurtured 10 undergraduates through to their degrees and good positions in a range of professions. Musa Capital Vice President, Rebone Mabusela, says that the firm’s high output from its Emerging Business Leaders Internship Programme is attributable in part to the fact that most Musa staffers are senior specialists in their fields. “We have more chiefs than Indians. So, we can provide more mentors proportional to our employee base than would be the case for corporates.”
“We’re also prepared to put interns hands-on at the coal face, on real projects. This gives them practical work experience that deepens their understanding of their studies and makes them very attractive as new hires.”
“And, of course, our firm is entrepreneurial by nature. So, we’re incubating independence and innovation while we teach big business best practice. We’re contributing a breadth of intellectual capital and business insight that is not easily accessible in more corporate environments. This is the kind of differentiator that smaller organisations can offer business students – and more small organisations should be doing it.”
One of Musa’s current interns, Sindile Mbele, obtained a bursary for her B Comm Finance studies through Musa’s advisory relationship with the Bakubung Ba Ratheo community in the North West Province. The first in her family to obtain a matric pass, she works at Musa in her holidays.
Gadaffi Nkosi, from Mamelodi, Pretoria, where his grandmother’s state pension was the family’s only income, won a scholarship for the last two years of high school to a school in the United States. Musa’s long-standing relationship with the Make A Difference (MAD) Foundation caused Musa to get involved when MAD offered Gadaffi a bursary to study law at a South African university. Musa made its offices and facilities available for Gadaffi’s research projects. Gadaffi has also gained valuable experience by working closely with and being mentored by Musa’s in-house attorney.