The White Tiger and the Rooster Coop

Aravind Adiga in The White Tiger raises important questions and completes an important feat – rendering the complex concepts of poverty traps and the rah-rah around entrepreneurship accessible in a devastating tale.

The-White-Tiger

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Atlantic Books, Published March 2009, 336 pages, ISBN: 978 1 84354 722 8

The entrepreneurial story is often about young men – women rarely feature as protagonists – undertaking the journey from rags to riches.  Through hard work, attending the University of Hard Knocks the protagonists find a route to social mobility and respect. This universal storyline has been criticised so consistently that to equate entrepreneurial success with hard work, dedication and perseverance – without referencing to contextual factors – is to be guilty of the Haratio Alger Myth. The author Haratio Alger, was an extremely popular American author writing in the 19th century, who told stories of industrious young men overcoming their poverty, with hard work, initiative and perseverance, and through that becoming not only wealthy, but virtuous people. There is an importance in not reproducing this myth, for as much as we admire the successful and ethical entrepreneur, it provides little understanding of the reasons for her success.


Can the opposite however be true? In criticising those perpetuating the  Haratio Alger Myth we may overemphasis the contextual factors that have led to entrepreneurial success. Yet, there is a deeper conclusion that we may reach – entrepreneurial success may transform the lives of the person, but it is not powerful and disruptive enough to change the underlying economic system, meaning that the majority of people stay trapped in conditions of exclusion and exploitation. A demanding question that South Africa must face, and the reason The White Tiger – set in India – has relevance to us in South Africa.

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National Planning Commission Goes Facebook, excludes most South Africans

South Africans given first opportunity to input on the development of the National Plan, but only for internet users.
On Zapreneur, I have argued that the national planning process must be made more open for the National Planning Commission to meet its goals. While it is presumptuous to indicate that the article had an influence, The Presidency announced that it will be having NPC Jam Session running for five days starting on the 28 March 2011.

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Enter the entrepreneur? Budget 2011 Proposals for Many Small Businesses not Just White Tigers

 

zapreneur
Zapreneur declares it has an interest in this subject. Photo - Moe and Milsey's Construction Company

We like them. The small business that succeeds against the odds. Minister Gordhan even saluted a couple of success stories on the budget. In the build up to the budget, I choose to read The White Tiger by Indian author Aravind Adiga . The White Tiger provides a devastating description of the poverty traps, and that rare success stories translate to private gain without a wider social impact. The central premise of the book is that successful entrepreneurs are as rare as white tigers. In fact, in South Africa the data provided by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor indicates that job creating, opportunity based businesses are a rarity in South Africa. The book though not set in South Africa provides a useful refrain from the rah-rah usually associated with entrepreneurship. What then does the budget propose for the small business entrepreneur?

Read moreEnter the entrepreneur? Budget 2011 Proposals for Many Small Businesses not Just White Tigers

Youth Subsidy and building consensus

Youth subsidy
KwaZulu-Natal Midlands: Ceramic painters Zama Nqubuku (foreground) and Wiseman Ndlovu at work in the Ardmore Ceramics studio. Photo: Hannelie Coetzee

Minister Pravin Gordhan reintroduction of the proposals around the youth subsidy is a brave political decision, given the overwhelming and justifiable criticism of the proposal. In tabling the new proposal Minister Gordhan has listened to the criticism and opted to tweak the proposal. The first proposal provided a wage subsidy or hiring voucher to lower cost of labour and compensate employers for the perceived risk of hiring inexperienced workers. In tweaking the proposal, government has shifted from this position, so that it is now to be administered as a tax credit. This is significant step as it potentially means that entry-level wages will remain the same.

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What will happen to the R 9 billion job creation fund?

2011 Budget Options

This article previews the budget looking at three options for spending the R 9 billion for job creation activities announced in the State of the Nation Address.
President Jacob Zuma left the details of the R 9 billion for job creation activities vague in his State of the Nation Address, simply saying:

We are pleased to announce the establishment of a jobs fund of 9 billion rand over the next three years to finance new job-creation initiatives.

The announcement on the details of this are eagerly anticipated when Minister Pravin  Gordhan delivers the 2011/12 Budget Speech. There are three major readings about what the details of the proposal will mean. The major options are:

  1. Application based fund
  2. Subsidy to support youth employment
  3. Support small business

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Taxes to support entrepreneurship

Proposals on a major reform for small business taxes have been around for years. In this preview, we explore some of the options that potentially features in Budget 2011.

Photo: Rodger Bosch- Workers processing peppers on the production line of a food processing company near Port Elizabeth. Read more: http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com

Proposal to utilise taxes to support small business and entrepreneurship are a strong possibility to feature in Budget 2011.
Minister Pravin Gordhan, in his 2010 Budget Speech indicated that small business taxation would be an area of focus in government. Work in this area has been undertaken, and government might be ready to offer significant tax incentives to small business and start-ups.The logic is important to understand – more employers = more jobs.  The result is that economic participation and inclusion is supported.

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