As part of our quest to help grow young entrepreneurs Matoyana spoke to Lisa Illingworth, the CEO and Batman of FutureProof South Africa, a business leading the way in activating entrepreneurial thinking and action in children.
Using experienced entrepreneurs as coaches, FutureProof teach the skills needed to start and run a business as well as building strong behavioural competencies in kids. In 2018 alone, FutureProof educated over 500 children in entrepreneurship.
Hi Lisa – many thanks for taking time out to speak to us. Firstly, how do you go about teaching “opportunity awareness” to children?
Reframing problems as opportunities is the key superpower of the entrepreneur. We have a wonderful game that not only teaches this concept, but it does it in a manner that encourages entrepreneurial learning. Students are given cards one with a problem, and the other with the opportunity that arose from that problem. The students then have to find their corresponding card. This involves a fair amount of organized chaos as students negotiate their way to finding their matching cards. Not only does this change the mental framework, it develops social mobility, and a reflective process and it is fun. All the things entrepreneurship education should be harnessing to grow and nurture young entrepreneurs.
Resilience and tenacity are so important in children, youth (and adults) in life today – not only in the entrepreneurial field. What advice would you give to a teacher / parent about instilling tenacity in children?
Model the behaviour that you want to see in the children you are trying to influence. If you give up easily, they will too. Encourage kids to take on complex tasks and when they look like they are getting frustrated, ask leading questions that encourage a different perspective or a new path for exploration.
Tenacity grows with the amount of times a complex task is attempted. A teacher or parent needs to take on the role of support and coach to encourage the next attempt, whilst being the example at the same time.
How important is the “need for achievement” in a young person?
A need to achieve is what becomes the internal motivator to stand out in the world. For an entrepreneur, it is the driving factor that sets the entrepreneur up for success of those who would settle for mediocre.
This is so true for adult entrepreneurs as well… Can you explain a little about what “self efficacy” means and how it will help a child or young adult become “future proof”?
Self-efficacy is the belief in the agency of oneself to achieve a favourable outcome in any task that is attempted. It is an internal sense of agency that encourages the individual to take action and interpret the feedback from their environment rather than waiting for things to happen around them and then formulating a response.
Is “leadership” something we are born with or can it be taught?
Leadership is taught. There is not a single human that is born with the emotional intelligence to lead effectively. Whether the learning process has been conscious or organic is where the confusion comes in. Leaders may have had good mentors and models from which to gain the traits necessary to lead or been through formal training to develop those characteristics, but in either case, they are learnt and not programmed in our genes.
Lastly, you talk about “saving the world, one entrepreneur at a time”?
Yes, we certainly believe that the world (certainly our economy) can be saved by entrepreneurs! The superhero theme is one that helps define the culture of our business. Many of the traits exhibited by entrepreneurs are those of superheroes too, and using this analogy, helps kids and young adults create a framework for entrepreneurship as a choice rather than a backup plan for when their job expectations are not met.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and find FutureProof online here: