In an attempt to create SA’s next generation of CEOs‚ a Johannesburg businessman is about to put 10 inexperienced entrepreneurs in charge of his businesses.
Gary Bannatyne‚ managing director of The Digital Academy‚ says his Street Business School turns the education model on its head by giving “students” the chance to learn how to be business owners and get paid for it.
Bannatyne and his team are selecting 10 candidates from 150 applicants for a three-year programme in which they will be handed resources and a business to “take and break”.
“The business needs to be pushed to failure or success. If the performance of the individual does not conform to the fast-moving pace and culture of Street Business School‚ the individual will be exited‚” says the school’s website.
Every year‚ students will have the chance to take a 20% share in the business they run‚ so that by the end of the three years they could own 60%.
“They will be making managerial decisions within the first year‚ so they will be doing the hiring and firing as well‚” said Bannatyne.
The first group of students‚ who start next month‚ will get a stipend of up to R4,000 a month‚ food and accommodation.
Bannatyne said his company‚ Street Capital‚ which helps entrepreneurs to fund and start businesses‚ had accumulated too many business ideas — many of them patented — but had too little time and manpower to build them.
“We have been faced with the challenge of trying to find the right entrepreneurs to head up businesses for us. We provided a test case with one of our staff, where he was able to take an opportunity from us and take it to market to achieve commercial viability.
“We are also in a position where we know what works and what is required. We are at a stage where we are going live with high-potential business concepts that we would otherwise not hand over to anyone.”
Most of the businesses run by the students would be in the technology field‚ though businesses were also available in retail and manufacturing if they were a better fit with successful candidates.