The Nelson Mandela Family Business Unit for the first time was part of the African Family Business BarometerEmbracing innovation for a new reality in Africa, which this year was done in collaboration with KPMG and the Africa CEO Forum.

This bi-annual survey conducted by KPMG, was undertaken during the COVID 19 pandemic amongst 122 family businesses across Africa. This year we assess two important topics in the barometer, namely level of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) of African family businesses and the importance they place on socioemotional wealth (SEW). Profs Venter and Farrington were the researchers involved in this research project.

The survey shows that the pandemic has had an impact on the confidence levels of respondents and uncertainty concerning the economic prospects for their family businesses over the next 12 months exists. Despite this uncertainty, they remain optimistic for the future. Family businesses face many challenges and the pandemic has tested their resilience, innovation and leadership during a difficult period. Several of these challenges have remained the same compared to the previous barometer which focused on improving turnover and profitability, accessing finance, as well as dealing with volatile currency and political uncertainties.

Family businesses have traditionally focused on the long term and are risk-averse, but the new reality and way of conducting business, as a result of Covid-19, has resulted in families reassessing their purpose as well as reaffirming their values and the role they play in the wider community. In addition, there is an accelerated focus on succession and the role of the next generation in governance, ownership and leadership. It is therefore critical that a detailed succession plan be put in place to ensure adequate preparation for an uncertain future. This uncertain future is acerbated by the technological and digital explosion and requires that families become more entrepreneurially oriented in their business operations.  Whilst the immediate future is uncertain, African family businesses are focused on the future and are looking to diversify their businesses to continue growing in this rapidly changing global and African business environment. 

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