Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal (Print ISSN: 1087-9595; Online ISSN: 1528-2686)

Research Article: 2018 Vol: 24 Issue: 2

Entrepreneurship: Psychological Factors Influencing Youth's Desire For Self-sustenance In Mpumalanga

Oluseyi Emmanuel Sowole, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Muhammad Ehsanul Hogue, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Olufemi Patrick Adeyeye, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban


The importance of entrepreneurship as catalyst for economic growth cannot be over-emphasized. The role it plays in poverty alleviation, wealth distribution and self-sustenance is crucial to attaining community peace and prosperity. High level entrepreneurial activity can cushion the effects of poverty in a community with diverse race where there is a perceived gap between the rich whites and poor blacks (Naudé & Kruell, 2003; Naudé & van der Walt, 2006). As important as entrepreneurship is to economic development, there is low level of participation of youths in the whole process (Burger, Mahadea & O'Neill, 2004; Dockel & Ligthelm, 2005).

Empirical studies and reports confirmed that unemployment and poverty is high among youths in Mpumalanga (Stat SA, 2016). Mpumalanga province is a ‘youth’ province judging from the records of Provincial Treasury of Mpumalanga that put youth population at 58.9% (Provincial Treasury Mpumalanga, 2016). A seven-year analysis of youth’s unemployment in Mpumalanga province from 2008 to 2015 revealed that youth’s employment declined by 5.9% and youth vulnerability is emphasised by its share of unemployment, which stood at 69.9% (Provincial Treasury Mpumalanga, 2016).

In furtherance to this, record showed that, for 2015 alone, Mpumalanga recorded 39% unemployment rate. The unemployment rate increased in Mpumalanga by 4.1% comparing year-on-year change for 2015 and 2016 (Stats SA-QLFS, 2016). Expectedly, black youths in the province are mostly affected by this challenge due to their number in the province as blacks represent up to 80% of the total population (Stat SA, 2015).

Mpumalanga youth unemployment profile shown in Figure 1 is an indication of the differential effectiveness of government strategies in addressing youth unemployment in the province; while unemployment among Indian youths are consistently near zero percentage, unemployment among whites and coloured youths experienced a positive decline, but their black counterparts experienced persistent increase. It is imperative to highlight racial profile of unemployed youths in the province to effectively diagnose the challenges facing this set of youths which could serve as a base for optimum allocation of resources in addressing the anomaly. In order to investigate the influence of psychological factors on desire for self-sustenance; stress was used as a mediating variable, alongside entrepreneurial psychology. Stress is closely related to unemployment and poverty therefore; stress was measured on two fronts which are home stressors and community stressors.

Figure 1:Youths Unemployment By Race In Mpumalanga.

It is important to mention numerous policies, strategies, massive infrastructural development both at national level and provincial level, aimed at facilitating interest in entrepreneurship, reducing cost of doing business, provision of ‘soft’ loans and establishment of various institutions with mandates on youths’ development in the country and provinces. Policies like Youth Enterprise Development Strategy (YEDS), 2013-2023, National Youth Policy (NYP), 2015-2020, The New Growth Path (NGP), 2011, Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), 2014/15-2016/17, Youth Employment Accord (YEA), 2013, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BEE), 2003 and Skill Accord, 2011, are conscious efforts employed by government to address this nagging issues.

Meta-analytic findings have shown the importance of entrepreneurial engagements to poverty alleviation, in that proper development of cognitive capacity to identify business opportunities, commercialised service, development of skills to make profit and proper training to acquire on-demand technical abilities have direct correlation to poverty alleviation (Alvarez & Barney, 2014; Bruton, Ketchen & Ireland, 2013).


The primary objective of this paper is to investigate and determine the psychological factors influencing youths’ desire for self-sustenance. This is with a view of proffering suggestions to assist government in addressing the attendant challenges. Psychological factors influencing youths’ desire for self-sustenance was adopted as the framework of this study whilst exploring the dynamics that influence the achievement of widespread youths’ engagement in entrepreneurial ventures.

Based on the outcome of the research, it was suggested that there should be realignment of resources and efforts towards addressing psychological factors influencing youths’ desires for self-substance, as real economic development can only be achieved when there are multiple business creations, which leads to poverty reduction and sustainable development (Petrakis, 2005; Mkhize, 2010; Kobia & Sikaleh, 2010).

Theoretically, the frame of the study was facilitated by General Efficacy Scale (GES) which was employed as a measuring instrument to explain participants’ self-efficacy in relation to stress tolerance. The justification for adopting GES as a reliable measuring instrument is that it facilitates the assessment of perceived self-efficacy which enables the prediction of the individual’s stress tolerance in coping with daily life hassles and adaptation after experiencing challenging and stressful events. The construct of perceived self-efficacy reflects on self-beliefs and the confidence that one can cope with life difficult situations.

In addition, the construct ‘readiness for entrepreneurship’ was adopted to measure entrepreneurial psychology, it is believed that rather than adopt a particular measuring instrument, it is more scientifically acceptable to adopt some specific constructs in designing an acceptable instrument (Conduras, Saiz-Alvarez & Ruiz, 2016). In view of this, the study identified three important factors necessary in assessing the construct: (a) entrepreneurial education tested with question 2, 4 & 6 (Chen et al., 2015; Jiménez et al., 2015) (b) need for achievement tested with question 1, 3 & 9 (Begley & Boyd, 1987) and (c) balanced entrepreneurial skills tested with question 5, 7, 8 & 10 (Lazear, 2004).

Literature Review

This segment offers the synopsis of related literature on the influence of psychological factors on youths’ desire to self-sustenance in Mpumalanga. To put internal factors into perspective, stress theory and entrepreneurial orientation were used as mediating variables.

Internal Factors

External factors have been discussed to a great extent by several studies (Pretorius & Shaw, 2004; Atieno, 2009; Fatoki & Chindoga, 2011) therefore; the focus of this study is on internal factors influencing youth’s desire for self-sustenance. Internal factors are largely influenced by external factors (Babbie, 2004), which explain why stress theory provides a constructive explanation on how internal factors influence pattern of behaviour. External factors also known as environmental factors-are factors outside the control of social actors while internal factors are factors with relative control of the social actors (Carsrud, & Brännback, 2011; Hazlina et al., 2010).

Stress Theory

This is a social theory used to elucidate a form of conduct through observation (Babbie, 2004). Stress components are used to discover provable response to external and imagined events, which produce certain pattern of behaviour. The positive or negative release of energy, attitude and interest of youths to economic participation, especially regarding entrepreneurship, will be linked to the influence of autonomic nervous system, whose component includes sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system, their level of simulation command alertness or lethargic response.

What is stress? Stress is a medical term for series of outward incitements, both psychological and physiological, which can cause a physiological response called general adaptation syndrome (Sincero, 2012). Stress arises when individuals perceive a discrepancy between the physical or emotional demands of a situation without realistic resources to sufficiently meet these demands (Sarafino, 2011; Sarafino & Smith, 2014). Stress is a constant part of life; it is a response to stimulus aggravated by disequilibrium in emotional or corporeal wellbeing. Stress could arise based on simple discernment or real events but the effort to adjust to the prevalent circumstance is mostly responsible for stress. It is worthy of note that stress is not only a bad incidence rather it has both good and not so good features. Eustress (beneficial stress) and distress (worry) are the main types of stress.

Eustress (beneficial stress) is a good form of stress that preserves positive feelings and increases self-appreciation. Eustress could take many forms, engaging in aerobic exercise, visiting a new country, responsibilities that come with promotions or any optimum exposure to stressors that result in positive feelings. It is a happy-go-feeling employed by individuals or businesses to grow and remain healthy.

Distress (worry) is a manifestation of fear, life-threatening anxiety, grief or pain which results in severe physical or emotional suffering. It is a general feeling of depression, agony and mental state of being in great trouble.

Stressor is an organic or natural cause, natural situation, external impetus or incident that causes stress to an entity. To buttress stress theory and its influence on youths’ interest in entrepreneurship, two models are employed, which are physiological model and psychological model.

Physiological model: Cannon (1945) described the initiation of sympathetic nervous system as a process which discharges adrenaline into the system to cause either positive or negative response to events. This process involves the body system recognising the presence of stressor by conveying signals to the brain and to the specific sympathetic and hormonal reactions to eliminate, condense or manage with the stress. Simply put, physiological response is a bodily response to stress. Introduction of certain level of stressor prompts the brain to issue command to the rest of the body; what mode will be initiated subsequently depends on the message transmitted. Transmission of danger may trigger defence mode which Cannon termed ‘fight or flight response’. Also, flight response can be triggered in response to an imminent danger, violence or risk to survival and once the perceived threat is eliminated the body system goes back to state of normalcy. It is important to note that physical reaction is often times not accurate as it is triggered by perception.

American Psychological Association (2016) suggested that chronic stress is a stress that cannot be managed effectively like everyday stress our bodies have adjusted to through the process of evolution and stress management behaviours. Rather, this type of stress can cause serious health problems such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, insomnia and many more complicated health challenges. The relevance of explaining the physiological model of stress is to give credence to some underlying factors and processes causing youths’ inability to engage in productive endeavours (Pietrangelo, 2014; Holmes & Rahe, 1967 & 2017).

Psychological model: Cox & Mackay (1976) described stress as a conceptual phenomenon which elucidates stress response in relation to burden of expectation and ability to cope. The key factor here is perception of the individual stress tolerance; a feeling of below par performance will increase stress level as described by general adaptation syndrome (GAS).

According to Selye (1976) and Varela, Thompson & Rosch (2017), General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) was designed to quantify a person’s short and long-term stress tolerance. In elucidating this theory properly, it is imperative to mention the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), which gets the body prepared to manage stress. Also, the local adaptation syndrome which refers to the inflammatory response and repair processes at the affected part of the body, such as contact dermatitis which may lead to GAS in case of severe injuries. GAS is divided into stages which are alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

The South African Depression and Anxiety group (SADAG) (2016) examined other prevalent psychological stresses common among youths in South Africa, among which are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, substance use disorders and intermittent explosive disorders (Blazer et al., 1994; Kessler, 1997; Gita, 2016; Murray & Lopez, 1996; Sullivan, Neale & Kendler, 2000). Most of these disorders are activated by life-stress variables, global negative life events, relationship or marital stress, domestic violence or physical partner violence, social strain and early life stress.

It is worthy of note that some of these variables or factors are associated with everyday stress, however, the level of tolerance differs based on genetic factors, health, environmental factors, memories, exposure and faith, which largely influence youths’ desire to self-sustenance.

Entrepreneurial Psychology

The introduction of psychology to entrepreneurship research explained the psychological perspective in relation to individual prospective or established entrepreneurs. Baum & Bird (2010) explained that entrepreneurial psychology is fundamentally individualistic and it is profitable to explore the investigation bearing individuals as major object of research. Meta-analytic findings explained entrepreneurial psychology through personality constructs like self-efficacy, penchant for achievement and entrepreneurial orientation. However, this study intends to explore other aspects of this subject through the following constructs: (a) entrepreneurial watchfulness, (b) entrepreneurial orientation and (c) affective factors. These constructs are used to explain the concept of entrepreneurship through psychological perspective and explain possible reasons why youths are not positively inclined to entrepreneurship in Mpumalanga.

Entrepreneurial watchfulness: This can be explained as the ability to identify business opportunities without effort. The entrepreneur has trained himself in a manner to see opportunity in every situation (Kirzner, 1979). Kaish & Gilad (1991) described entrepreneurial watchfulness as being able to conceptualise and sieve information to dissect relevant data that can be developed into business opportunities. Gaglio & Katz (2001) described entrepreneurial watchfulness as cognitive schemata that make individuals think in an unconventional way to discern business opportunities. The dynamism of the business world and the ever-changing relationship between demand and supply, constantly create vacuum that watchful entrepreneurs capitalise on to make money.

Watchfulness is critical to becoming a successful entrepreneur that leads to self-sustenance; inability to identify business opportunities denies the very essence of entrepreneurship. However, recent studies suggest that watchfulness should be combined with inventiveness to sufficiently explain the concept of entrepreneurship; therefore integrated approach was advocated (Gielnik et al., 2012; Tang, Kacmar & Busenitz, 2012). According to Tang Kacmar & Busenitz (2012), combining entrepreneurial watchfulness and cognitive aspect of inventiveness can be beneficial to business innovation.

Gielnik et al. (2012) conceptualise integrated approach by infusing watchfulness with inventiveness to prove that there is positive correlation between business opportunity identification and innovation. Therefore, we can assume that the business watchfulness construct requires both behavioural (training oneself in a manner to behave in a certain pattern-always on the look-out for business opportunities) and cognitive inventiveness to becoming a successful entrepreneur. These seem to be lacking among youths in the province judging from the high rate of unemployment and low level of entrepreneurial participation in the province.

Entrepreneurial orientation: This is a multidimensional construct categorised by proactivity, autonomy, risk taking, innovativeness and competitiveness aggressiveness (Lumpkin & Dess, 1996). Entrepreneurial orientation has comparable effects both at individual and organisational levels, as both have common denominators. Meta-analysis results showed that entrepreneurial orientation compound has positive correlation with performance both at individual and organisational levels (Rauch et al., 2009; Rosenbusch, Rauch & Bausch, 2013). Having the right orientation is paramount to a successful entrepreneurial venture; this is the reason why new recruits, students or an entrepreneur has to undergo a training-like exposition, which helps to shape the beliefs, attitudes or feelings in relation to a new object, event or a new venture.

There are cognitive factors, which must be harnessed to build the right entrepreneurial orientation, such as knowledge, practical intelligence/astuteness, cognitive bias and optimism, out of which optimism is arguably the most important. Optimism is a crucial factor required to foster a successful entrepreneurial endeavour, because engaging in entrepreneurial venture is inherently risky, largely due to unpredictable future.

Therefore, being optimistic in the face of uncertainty will help the entrepreneur forge ahead despite discouraging results, which are sometimes inevitable (Markman, 2007). Optimism and overconfidence are two factors that make an entrepreneur ‘thick’. McMullen & Shepherd (2006) suggest that nascent entrepreneurial venture is characterised by limited resources and uncertainty, which makes a new entrepreneur avail himself of multiple functions that should be undertaken by experts. This contributes in no small measure to the resilience and chance of survival of the business; therefore, the more skilful the entrepreneur is, the better the chance of a successful venture.

However, after analysing this assumption critically, it was concluded that this might not be possible in real terms for a single person to effectively undertake multiple functions successfully with no obvious consequences. McMullen & Shepherd (2006) understood this and therefore concluded that a nascent entrepreneur needed to pull himself up to the extent of becoming overconfident, else, the obvious lapses which are likely to emerge by one person multitasking will discourage venturing into such business. By implication, entrepreneurs must prepare his mind to ‘water-down’ challenges with optimism and investment in continuous research and development to match-up dynamics of business world.

Other Cognitive Factors

Knowledge-entrepreneurial orientation is built from knowledge acquired during the gestation period. It affords cognitive and psychological leeway necessary to constructively optimise and integrate information to the benefit of the entrepreneur (Fiske & Taylor, 2013). Knowledge acquisition is a function of learning, According to Politis (2005), knowledge is a function of conscious tutorship by a mentor or business owner where new entrepreneur acquires the necessary skills of business opportunities, identification and administration. The acquired knowledge develops intellectual structure, which helps in revelatory and understanding of new information crucial to discerning new business opportunity (Mitchell et al., 2007).

Knowledge is not only garnered through a structure tutorship as posited by Politis (2005), life experiences, age, exposure, travelling and interactions, bring about knowledge, being ‘street wise’ is a crucial part of knowledge needed to succeed in a very competitive business world (Shane, 2000). This position was upheld by (Baron & Ensley, 2006; Unger et al., 2011) that explicit knowledge acquired through life experiences is of more importance than broad knowledge acquired in a formal school.

Practical Intelligence/astuteness- is the aptitude to adjust to, shape and make choices on everyday challenges (Stenberg, 2009). Practical intelligence is best measured by the experiences garnered by the entrepreneur in a bid to survive; some refer to this as ‘street smartness’. Baum, Bird & Singh (2011) posit that it is the ability of an entrepreneur to clearly define a challenge and know the practical ways of sorting out those challenges. They also believe that the timeliness associated with the practical astuteness application to challenges is a major asset and advantage to the entrepreneur which gives him a head-start among his peers.

Psychologically, such entrepreneurs see opportunities not seen by others and sense dangers miles ahead of contemporaries in the industry. Therefore, practical intelligence is thus an important prognosticator of making fast, smart and flexible decisions and taking actions in response to changes in the market to propel resilient growth.

Affective Factors- These are factors that control erudition, which may be positive or negative. They are considered an important factor in entrepreneurial psychology. Researching these factors suggest its antecedent in entrepreneurship action. Entrepreneurial passions, positive and negative affect, were explored to explain their importance in entrepreneurial psychology (Cardon et al., 2012; Frese, 2009; Baron, 2008).

Entrepreneurial passion- can be explained as a compelling enthusiasm or feelings of achieving entrepreneurial feat by embarking on business activities driven by the entrepreneur’s strong desire to calve a niche (Cardon et al., 2009). It is a feeling defying all odds in achieving a goal. It is critical for entrepreneurs to be passionate in pursuant of the identified business interest, as passion builds impetus which results into penchant for entrepreneurial success. The desire to be independent is a common characteristic of entrepreneurs, passion therefore serves as a driving force necessary to push an entrepreneur during challenging times (Baum, Bird & Singh, 2011).


Research Approach

The research methodology was designed to investigate and determine the psychological factors influencing youths’ desire for self-sustenance. The significant inference is the effect the factors have on youths’ total pattern of behaviour. Research objective helps to determine research approach as highly structured and consistent data collection process was used with a closed-ended questionnaire’s structure.

General efficacy scale was applied in developing a ten question table to assess self-belief, entrepreneurial traits, knowledge, skills, stress, fear and other psychological factors. This was considered relevant to measure participants’ responses based on self-efficacy influence on psychological factors and desires for self-sustenance (Reuter et al., 2010).

Readiness for entrepreneurship was employed to measure the specific constructs of entrepreneurial psychology as mentioned in the theoretical framework of the study. While descriptive and inferential statistical tools was used to analyse data.

This facilitated statistical analysis and interpretation of numerical data collected through survey necessitating the adoption of quantitative research methods for this study (Creswell, 2013; Creswell & Creswell, 2017; Szafranski, 2009; Vogt, 2011).

Respondents and Sampling

The study was conducted in the three districts of Mpumalanga province: Ehlanzeni, Gert Sibande and Nkangala. The choice of the coverage is to get feedback from the whole province as Mpumalanga consists of the three districts mentioned above. Employing Krejcie & Morgan (1970) sample size population table, 355 samples of unemployed youths within the age-group of 15 to 34 years was determined and questionnaires were distributed among selected participants using simple random technique. There was an overwhelming response rate from the youths as the whole 355 questionnaires were returned and properly filled representing 100% response rate. This can be attributed to prior presentations made at each district to educate youths on how to properly fill the questionnaires and to express their honest opinions.

Data Analysis

Internal factors were examined by evaluating the effects of psychological factors influence on desire for self-sustenance. General efficacy scale (GES) and Readiness for entrepreneurship (RFE) measuring instruments employed have suitable reliability and internal consistency measured by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient ranges from 0.76 to 0.90, however meta-analysis from considerable studies accepted a coefficient range from 0.65 and above as acceptable (Goforth, 2015; Moss et al. (1998); Lance, Butts & Michels, 2006; Shoukri, 1998; Sekaran & Bougie, 1992).

The validity of the instrument was enhanced by correlation to emotional positive expectation, self-independence, behavioural changes and work satisfaction, while the adverse factors were found in depression, stress, anxiety, exhaustion and stress health related issues (Jerusalem & Schwarzer, 1992; Zhang & Schwarzer, 1995; Reuter et al., 2010; Chen et al., 2015; Jimenéz et al., 2015; Conduras, Saiz-Alvarez & Ruiz, 2016). In view of this, both GES and RFE were considered suitable by this study to assess self-efficacy and stress tolerance influence on desire for self-sustenance among youths in Mpumalanga.

Focusing on stress as mediating variable, the questionnaire was designed to contain 10 questions each with 5-point Likert scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Principal Axis Factoring (PAF) extraction method with Oblimin rotation with Kaiser Normalization was employed to analyse the data. This rotation method is used because it is suspected that there is a correlation between the factors found in the structure of the data (Table 1).

The KMO (measure of sampling adequacy) value of 0.859 indicates that the sample size is large enough to reliably extract the factors. In addition, the significant result of Bartlett’s test of sphericity indicates that there is sufficient correlation present between the items for a successful factor extraction (Cerny & Kaiser, 1977).

Entrepreneurial Psychology

This construct was measured by meta-analytic reviews on measuring readiness for entrepreneurship, which suggests that there is a wide-range of issues needed to be considered to properly measure it. In designing an entrepreneurship related assessment instrument, what should be paramount is ‘readiness for entrepreneurship’ and this construct is explained as union of personal abilities that differentiates a person with inclination for entrepreneurship particularly capable of detecting and evaluating their environment in such a way that they harness their inventive and conscientious potential, so they may deploy their capability to challenge and need for achievement (Conduras, Saiz-Alvarez & Ruiz, 2016).

Results And Discussion

The matter for discussion in this section is based on the results from the appropriate inferential analysis. This discussion is necessary as a scientific contribution to knowledge on the psychological factors influencing youths’ desire for self-sustenance in Mpumalanga province. The correlation matrix among the constructs investigated is shown below:

Internal factors: Principal Axis Factoring was used in analysing psychological factors and the result showed that 2 factors were extracted – using the rule of retaining factors with an Eigen value >1.0. The first factor accounts for 37.116% of the total variance and the second for 10.999%. Together, they account for 48.115% of the variance (Table 1).

Table 1: Kmo And Bartlett’s Test Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure Of Sampling Adequacy
Bartlett's Test of Sphericity Approx. Chi-Square 802.257
Df 45
Sig. 0.000

To further elucidate the extracted factors, Factor 1 comprising five items was named Home Stressors and Factor 2 containing the remaining five items was categorised as Community Stressors, respectively for easy identification. Home stressors focus on anxiety related to family, money, failure (these are all very close to the home); and community stressors is a more general worry – as others are involved (government, community, societal expectations). A Cronbach’s alpha value of .675 on the extracted home stressor is considered acceptable (Tables 2and 3).

Table 2: Pattern Matrixa
1 2
I struggle and worry about responsibilities of my dependants 0.766  
I am afraid to start a business because I think it might fail 0.612  
I do not have business background, nobody close to me is running a business 0.458  
Lack of money stresses me a great deal 0.371  
I have seen people I considered well equipped in running a business fail 0.337  
I sometimes feel I cannot cope with life   -0.899
I feel as if the whole world is against me   -0.630
I blame the Government for lack of jobs   -0.456
I get easily angry when I cannot get what I need   -0.370
I think I am not ready for the stress/ challenges that comes with starting a new business   -0.322
Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring. Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization
a. Rotation converged in 11 iterations

Home Stressors - Analysis

Table 3: One-Sample Statistics
  N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean
Home Stressors 355 3.0451 0.80352 0.04265
Community Stressors 355 2.6632 0.90831 0.04821

The pattern matrix in Table 4 showed a good factor extraction with strong loading for home stressors, as factors are calculated by averaging scores across nth term denoted by one sample-statistics and one-sample test with an average mean score (M=3.0451, SD=0.80352),t (354)=1.057) and Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.675, which is acceptable to show internal consistency.

By implication, this shows that there is an agreement that youths in the province experience stress closely related to family and most significantly, money – a major stressor among all the youths in the province. The inferential analysis of primary data showed a mean score of 3.65 on lack of money which is significantly greater >3 (mean score of >3 is considered significant) this shows the statistical implication of this stressor among youths in the province.

Lack of money is closely linked to unemployment and unstable source of income among the youth population, which is prevalent in the province and this permeates stress in other emotional closely related issues dear to the youths such as worries about the well-being of dependants – aged parents, children and many more.

Community Stressors-Analysis

A further analysis of community related stressors with average mean score of 2.66 (M=2.6632, SD=0.90831), t (354)=-6.986] also showed agreement howbeit less than home stressors to how psychological factors influence youths’ desires to self-sustenance. A Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.744 showed a reliable internal consistency of this factor.

Entrepreneurial Psychology

Analysis of entrepreneurial psychology was done by employing descriptive and inferential statistical analyses to measure entrepreneurial behaviour. Mean score and standard deviation of responses was done on each question, also one-sample t-test was used to test for significant agreement/disagreement to the statement. A mean score >3 indicates significant agreement while a value with a mean score <3 is interpreted as disagreement (Table 5).

Table 5: Entrepreneurial Psychology Measured By Entrepreneurial Behaviour
S/N Item SD (%) D (%) N (%) A (%) SA (%) M SD T
1 ?I am a proud South African 2.3 1.1 2 25.9 68.7 4.58 0.789 37.649
2 I have knowledge about business management 4.2 11 27 44.2 13.5 3.52 0.998 9.785
3 I am excited with the idea of owning a business 2.8 6.5 11.8 47.6 31.3 3.98 0.973 18.990
4 I have basic knowledge on entrepreneurship 3.4 15.8 29 37.5 14.4 3.44 1.027 8.011
5 I can develop a business plan 3.4 11 20 45.6 20 3.68 1.022 12.522
6 I have had opportunity to learn how to run a business 3.4 17.2 15.2 43.9 20.3 3.61 1.093 10.442
7 I have a mentor in the business world 7.9 31 17.7 31.3 12.1 3.09 1.191 1.381
8 I believe apartheid does not affect my decision to become an entrepreneur 3.1 7.3 8.5 41.4 39.7 4.07 1.025 19.724
9 I believe I have what it takes to own a business 2.8 4.2 10.1 47.6 35.2 4.08 0.934 21.827
10 I am self-motivated to produce result 0.8 3.9 7.6 45.6 42 4.24 0.821 28.442

Analysing each question based on the outcome of one-sample statistics and one-sample test showed that there is significant agreement that there is pride in being a South African (M=4.58, SD=0.789), t (354)=37.649, p<0.0005). This is not surprising judging from general observation of an average South African. There is knowledge about business management (M=3.52, SD=0.998), t (354)=9.785, p<0.0005). Youths’ response to this statement can be interpreted more from the angle of enthusiasm. Youths are also excited with the idea of owing a business (M=3.98, SD=0.973),t (354)=18.990, p<0.0005). There is basic knowledge on entrepreneurship (M=3.44, SD=1.027),t (354)=8.011, p<0.0005). The response to this statement confirms that youths in the province are not negatively inclined to engaging in entrepreneurial activities. There is significant agreement also that youths in the province knows how to develop business plan (M=3.68, SD=1.022),t (354)=12.522, p<0.0005). Youths also agreed significantly that they have had opportunity to learn how to run a business development plan (M=3.61, SD=1.093),t (354)=10.442, p<0.0005) and having had opportunity to learn how to run a business is largely relative, reason being, though youths responded positively to this statement, it can be deduced from further analysis that responses skewed to a particular set of respondents. However, there is neither significant agreement nor disagreement regarding youths in the province having a mentor in the business world (M=3.09, SD=1.191),t (354)=1.381, p<0.0005). The survey showed an interesting outcome regarding the psychological effects of apartheid on the ‘born-free’ as there is a significant agreement that apartheid does not affect their decision to become entrepreneurs (M=4.07, SD=1.025),t (354)=19.724, p<0.0005). There is a significant agreement that the youths believed they have what it takes to own a business (M=4.08, SD=0.934),t (354)=21.827, p<0.0005) and lastly, youths agreed significantly they are self-motivated to produce results (M=4.24, SD=0.821),t (354)=28.442, p<0.0005). We can infer from the mean score of nine out of the ten questions asked that youths significantly agreed that they are psychologically prepared to become entrepreneurs.

Analysis by Location

Descriptive analysis of participants’ responses by location shows there is neither significant agreement nor disagreement to home stressors indicating youths from the three districts experience similar home stressors which influences their desires for self-sustenance, while youths from Gert Sibande and Kriel showed more disagreement to the influence of community stressors on their desires to self-sustenance compared to youths from Barberton (Table 6).

Table 6: Descriptive Statistics Of Factors And Constructs By Location
  N Mean Std. Deviation
HOME Gert Sibande 108 2.9833 0.80843
Barberton 92 3.1000 0.63834
Kriel 155 3.0555 0.88583
Total 355 3.0451 0.80352
COMMUNITY Gert Sibande 108 2.5097 0.86685
Barberton 92 2.8304 0.87149
Kriel 155 2.6710 0.94463
Total 355 2.6632 0.90831
Total 355 3.3451 1.05830

Conclusion And Recommendations

Findings from the study showed that there is a statistically significant relationship between home stressors, principally, lack of money/finance and caregiving of dependants and youths’ desire to self-sustenance in Mpumalanga province. It was also established that though there is huge enthusiasm among youths in the province towards self-sustenance, however, lack of entrepreneurial orientation caused by inadequate entrepreneurial education and training have statistically significant influence on entrepreneurial behaviour among youths in the province.

Therefore, the following recommendations should be given due consideration to influence the desire for self-sustenance among youths in the province:

1. Communicate, train and entertain – the first stage is to orientate and prepare youths’ mind towards entrepreneurship. Continuous messages portrayed via success stories of characters in the soaps could subtly but effectively impact the youths and motivate them to emulate and inculcate such happenings in their lives. However, this must be done in a way to reveal the enormous economic potentials and opportunities in the province.

2. Carrot and stick system – it is essential sometimes to try and enforce government policies as people are naturally opposed to change. However, this should be done in a subtle manner to ensure youths see the good intention of such polices. This can be achieved by adjusting the existing monthly grants into monetary and non-monetary forms to cater for youths experiencing high level of home stressors with a condition that continued payment of the monetary part is dependent on the commitment shown on the non-monetary part, which is basically entrepreneurial and business empowerment training programs.

3. Reward young entrepreneurs in a similar fashion in which accolades and respects are accorded beauty pageants, which could motivate the youths to psychologically desire to be recognized in such manner.

4. Teach-back and feedback system – it is imperative to inculcate teach-back mechanism into the training and development system. This will afford the youths the opportunity to undergo requisite trainings, who will, in turn, teach others, their friends, siblings and neighbours thereby spreading entrepreneurial awareness. However, for this teach-back to be effective, it must be monitored through feedback with clear incentives given to youths engaged in the teach-back programmes.

Limitation And Further Studies

The result of this study is limited to the determination of psychological factors influencing youths’ desire for self-sustenance in Mpumalanga province. The findings were based on data collected from the three districts of Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Due to the large size of the province, one location was selected from each of the three districts, adopting simple random sampling method to select participants from each of the chosen locations.

To this end, a longitudinal approach to data collection could be employed in subsequent research, which will enable comparison of outcomes over an extended period of time to monitor the changes in youths’ pattern of behaviour towards entrepreneurship. Future studies could break-down youth population into different categories to investigate how psychological factors impede other social factors like sport, security and professional opportunities.

As this will provide opportunity to compare how psychological factors influence youths’ pattern of behaviours in relation to other social factors. This study offered explanations on the relationship between psychological factors and desire for self-sustenance employing stress factors as mediating variables, further studies may consider other mediating variables not explored by this study to offer further explanations on the relationship between psychological factors and desire to self-sustenance.


This paper is based on a DBA study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Prof. Hoque Mohammed and Dr Olufemi Adeyeye are the supervisors of the study.