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In SA 75 to 90% of businesses fail in the first three to five years of operation, partly due to a lack of experienced mentors and business coaches. Picture: SUPPLIED/WITS BUSINESS SCHOOL
In SA 75 to 90% of businesses fail in the first three to five years of operation, partly due to a lack of experienced mentors and business coaches. Picture: SUPPLIED/WITS BUSINESS SCHOOL

Dr Jabulile Msimango-Galawe is a rare kind of teacher; an entrepreneur who became a business coach to help other entrepreneurs avoid the unnecessary mistakes that she had made. She also pursued a doctorate in the field of entrepreneurship to find answers to the perplexing problem of why so many start-ups fail.  

“I became a business coach because my first business failed after six years of operation. The failure left me with scars and made me go search for answers, which led me to do my PhD. In the process, I decided I want to coach other entrepreneurs, so they don’t make the same mistakes that I made because of a lack of knowledge,” says Dr Msimango-Galawe, director of the Master of Management in Business and Executive Coaching (MM-BEC) at Wits Business School (WBS).

“In SA 75 to 90% (depending on which report you reference) of businesses fail in the first three to five years of operation, partly due to a lack of experienced mentors and business coaches.

"At the time, I was advised by people who were seeing things from a corporate lens, people who did not understand that as a small business you don’t have resources, you don’t have a board, you don’t have a division that looks after marketing, another after sales, another after finance, etc. You have to be all-in-one as an entrepreneur and bootstrap your way up,” she says.

While other business schools in SA offer executive coaching qualifications, the WBS MM-BEC stands out because of the extensive practical component complemented by a rigorous theoretical and research component.

“In the first year of the programme, students focus on theoretical concepts ranging from psychology to leadership to business in general, and have to do their 50 hours of coaching practice,” Dr Msimango-Galawe says. “The second year is all about research. This learning process is very rigorous and produces a whole-rounded person and coach who will be ready to practice and become accredited as a professional coach the minute he or she graduates.”

Studies show that individuals who have been coached become more confident and manage their businesses better
Dr Msimango-Galawe

Executive coaching is still an emerging field and is currently not regulated. There are, however, a number of organisations, or bodies, that are working hard to “professionalise” the industry, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) and Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), among others.

WBS was the first business school in SA to be affiliated to the global Graduate School Alliance for Education in Coaching (GSAEC), a leading body that provides very specific guidelines and standards of practice. This makes the WBS MM-BEC qualification uphold not only high academic standards but also professional standards.

Recognising that executive coaching requires a depth of understanding of both individual and business, the MM-BEC encompasses the psychological theory underpinning coaching, as well as business principles and organisational development.

“Studies show that individuals who have been coached become more confident and manage their businesses better, thus improving the performance of their businesses, whether as entrepreneurs or executives,” says Dr Msimango-Galawe.

Dr Jabulile Msimango-Galawe. Picture: SUPPLIED/WBS
Dr Jabulile Msimango-Galawe. Picture: SUPPLIED/WBS

“The terms coaching and mentoring are used interchangeably, but they are both about support, development and improvement of the individual and by extension, their businesses or careers.”

While still considered an emerging field, business and executive coaching is evolving fast around the world. Most large corporates have recognised that coaching is worth the investment and are willing to pay coaches to ensure that their executives deliver or perform.

As an entrepreneur at heart, however, Dr Msimango-Galawe’s passion is to better understand how coaching can support, develop and improve the performance of small business owners.

“Entrepreneurship is complex and difficult. Having a body of qualified coaches/mentors who have a solid foundation in the practice and theory of coaching is one thing that I believe can make our entrepreneurship ecosystem in SA function better. It may not be the whole answer, but it is definitely one of the ways we can improve the rate of start-up success.”

Applications for the January 2020 intake of the Master of Management in Business and Executive Coaching are open.

For more information, visit www.wbs.ac.za.

This article was paid for by the Wits Business School.