Profiling successful South African farmers as entrepreneurs

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Profiling successful South African farmers as entrepreneurs

What we wanted to know

The JvR Africa Group wanted to explore the entrepreneurial profile of successful South African farmers. This information can help inform future training and mentoring programmes within the agricultural setting.

How we approached it

This was a preliminary study with a sample that consisted of 7 successful South African farmers, where their success was based on their contributions to the agricultural production sector. In order to investigate the entrepreneurial profile of these farmers, the research team employed a convergent design in which both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analysed separately before drawing meta-inferences from the results. This allowed for broader insight into the farmer’s entrepreneurial profile.

Quantitative data was collected by means of the Measure of Entrepreneurial Tendencies and Abilities Disruptive Talent (META DT) that looks at three broad domains of entrepreneurship (ideation, execution and leadership), along with behavioural derailers that may limit an individual’s entrepreneurial potential.
Qualitative data was collected from three different sources:

  1. Transcribed data from interviews that were held with the farmers prior to this study;
  2. Observations made about the farmers by external observers prior to this study; and
  3. Open-ended questionnaires about the farmers in terms of their entrepreneurial skills. This data was collected concurrently with the META DT assessment.

Data from the qualitative and quantitative methods were analysed separately and only integrated after results from both datasets were reviewed. The integrated results were verified against the original results to ensure that they were an accurate reflection of the combined data.

What we found

The findings suggest that successful South African farmers are open to new ideas and get energised by change or challenges. Identifying new opportunities excites the farmers and they tend to keep up-to-date with new trends or developments. They have the ability to identify opportunities where others may not, and act pro-actively to engage with these opportunities, while being willing to take risks. Successful South African farmers are usually confident and self-assured, with the tendency to stand up for what they believe in. They do what they perceive to be right and will persevere and remain focused on their tasks. They perceive their successes as a result of hard work, effort, and commitment which allows them to be confident and assume leadership roles. They have realistic expectations and are able to balance short- and long-term incentives. These farmers also tend to remain calm and composed under pressure, are resilient in the face of difficulties, and maintain an optimistic outlook. They value strong, open relationships in the workplace and understand the importance of support.

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