Changing job seekers into job creators
“Entrepreneurship is a career, not a plan B.”
This is what Terence Knott-Craig, founder of The Springboard Academy, believes. He also believes that young people are the future for growth and economic well-being in South Africa.
“Helping young people discover their purpose and encouraging them into entrepreneurial thinking is the only lasting solution to the issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment,” he says.
If there is someone who knows about small business development, it is this Port Elizabeth-based businessman.
After a stint at the family-owned newspaper and printing business in Oudtshoorn and Graaff-Reinet, where he headed up the finance and admin departments, Terence went to work for the Small Business Development Corporation in 1988.
He stayed with the company, now called Business Partners, for almost 30 years.
“It was all about developing small business. I realised through all those years that small business is the answer to poverty, inequality and unemployment,” he explains.
“We need to create a healthy, vibrant and growing small business industry in this country.”
Terence adds that when he left the company a few years ago, his main goal was to do more to help the small business owner. So, he started The Springboard Academy which aims to be an effective agent for economic growth through stimulating personal and entrepreneurial development among the youth.
“The fact is that unemployment is rampant in South Africa. People just have no idea where to start, but every person has skills. They just need to discover and develop them,” he says.
The 61-year-old believes that taking stock in every business is incredibly important. “Not just physical stock, but stock of your goals and strategies to achieve them. Analysing your progress is paramount to ensuring that your business remains relevant,” he explains.
Terence has been married to his wife Evadne for 36 years, and together they raised three sons. He is concerned that the current schooling system is not doing enough to develop entrepreneurs.
“That is why my target group is learners in grades 10 to 12, and interested students in university or those who have just left school,” he adds.
“One of the difficulties faced by a small business owner is the lack of a management team to brainstorm and strategise for the business. This is where the role of a good mentor is crucial.”
And, this is where The Springboard Academy comes in with its mentorship/coaching program, where small business owners receive guidance on how to steer their way through the world of business. The company also offers a number of training courses ranging from business planning to basic business skills to personal budgeting.
“I would like The Springboard Academy to facilitate the success of one million new small businesses countrywide,” Terence says.
It is a big goal, but one that he thinks is reachable.
“I believe business should be run the way God intended. We need to do business the right way built on a foundation of integrity and honesty. I was put on this earth to make a difference in people’s lives, and encourage those who succeed to continue,” he says with a smile.
“The feeling of joy in seeing someone else succeed is indescribable. I can’t think of anything better.”