Rural entrepreneurship and transformation: the role of learnerships

07 Feb 2018

Purpose ? The purpose of this paper is to investigate the lessons that could be learnt from the first year of implementing the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority?s Rural Development Programme. Design/methodology/approach ? This exploratory, qualitative study involved unemployed people from a rural location in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. A focus group and in-depth interviews were held with the current learners, the programme manager, the skills training providers, and the royal custodian of the locality. Findings ? While highlighting the factors that enhance success as well as those that impede development, the study found that the learnership contributed significantly to social transformation through rural entrepreneurship. It empowers disadvantaged women and youths to gain access and skills which, if the recommended measures to sustain the programme are implemented, could enable them to grow bigger businesses. Research limitations/implications ? Since this was an exploratory, qualitative study, the limitations of a small, convenience sample need to be overcome by a larger, quantitative study, and a more complete collection of accurate secondary data. Originality/value ? Despite the obvious limitations, this study has contributed to the literature on both rural entrepreneurship and transformation in South Africa. Both are under-researched topics, despite transformation being a socio-political imperative and entrepreneurship, especially in rural areas, being a key to overcoming South Africa?s high unemployment rate.