Stellenbosch University gets R4 million boost to establish Pan African entrepreneurship centre

Stellenbosch University. Picture Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Stellenbosch University. Picture Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jun 29, 2023


Stellenbosch University has received a R4 million donation to start-up the Centre for African Entrepreneurship which will be expected to examine ways to create an enabling environment for high‑impact entrepreneurship on the continent.

The centre will be known as the Allan Gray Centre for African Entrepreneurship after a R4 m donation from the Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies.

The main focus of the centre will be on how to create an enabling environment for high‑impact entrepreneurship.

It is envisioned as a Pan‑African intellectual project spanning South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, where the Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies already have ongoing investments with existing entrepreneurship ecosystem partners.

Strategic partnerships will be explored with Ashesi University (Ghana), Strathmore University (Kenya), the Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor in South Africa.

Stellenbosch University has had a renewed focus on entrepreneurship and innovation over the past few years. This centre will in many ways help the university realise its vision of truly making a societal impact," said SU rector and vice-chancellor, Professor Wim de Villiers.

De Villiers said they would focus on doing research that could help resolve unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“The centre will contribute to transforming Africa’s numerous youth from a demographic liability to a human resource dividend," De Villiers said.

Centre for Africa Entrepreneurship co‑director, Dr Phumlani Nkontwana. Picture: Supplied/ edu souza

At the helm of the centre will be two co‑directors, Dr Phumlani Nkontwana and Professor Erik Stam, who bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience in the entrepreneurial sector.

Nkontwana said: “Our hope is to inspire the quantity and concentration of high‑impact ventures, either head-quartered or co‑founded in Africa.

“The aim is to better facilitate the interface between public and private role players in the development of a new crop of entrepreneurs in Africa that will transform and grow the economy.

“In earnest, we will ultimately endeavour to make available and consumable generated knowledge to local innovation hubs and ventures that need it the most.”

Meanwhile, Allan & Gill Gray Africa CEO, Anthony Far said that the centre is a powerful opportunity to develop greater intellectual rigour around the field of entrepreneurship in Africa.

"We are excited at the prospect of gaining deeper insight into the realities of entrepreneurship on the continent, particularly entrepreneurial ecosystems, and how they can be better harnessed towards the achievement of greater progress and prosperity for all," said Farr.