The Nelson Mandela University, through the Nelson Mandela University Family Business Unit, is the first university from Africa to be an affiliate of the global Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) project. The project involves rigorous qualitative and quantitative research, and an active dissemination of evidence-based knowledge through summits with families and publications. The Nelson Mandela University FBU became a STEP affiliate (the only Unit in Africa) in 2013. 


The STEP Project (established in 2005) is a collaborative research initiative that establishes learning partnerships between academics and business families in order to explore the entrepreneurial process among family businesses. These partnerships generate solutions that have immediate application for family leaders. STEP is a collaborative research initiative that aims to understand how successful long-lived family firms ignite entrepreneurial thought and action across generations. To achieve continued growth and continuity (thus sustainable local economic development), family business leaders must pass on their entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities so that future family members are able to create new streams of wealth and value for many generations to come. This is referred to as transgenerational entrepreneurship and STEP explores the important questions relating to sources that enable this process to occur successfully.


The Nelson Mandela University FBU, under the leadership of Prof Elmarie Venter and Prof Shelley Farrington, conducted the first interviews and case study with the family members of the well-known Tavcor Motor Group. The family manage the Volkswagen, Audi and Suzuki Dealership Group, which operate mainly in Port Elizabeth and George. The business started in 1950 as one of the first VW Dealerships in South Africa and has focused its attention on a narrowly defined area – the Eastern and South-Western Cape. Over the years, the Tavcor Motor Group has been known for its pioneering approaches to how they do their business, and this is coupled with unbeatable value for their customers. This made this family business an ideal candidate for the first case study on family businesses. The deadline for submitting the first case study to the STEP global data base was 30 June 2014.


The second STEP case study interviews were coducted among the family members of the well-known Stucky Motor Group. The family owns and manages the Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Chrysler Franchise Dealerships in Newcastle, Volksrust and Piet Retief in Kwazulu-Natal. Interviews were undertaken among ten family and non-family members and took place during 5-7 June 2017 in Newcastle, KZN.  Prof Venter, Prof Farrington and Mr Matchaba-Hove undertook the interviews. The interviews have all been transcribed and the process of writing up the case is under way. Two masters students have been identified to write up the case during 2018. The one masters project involves comparing the Stucky Motor Group and the Tavcor Motor Group in terms of the familiness resource pools.  The other masters project involves comparing the Taverner and Stucky case with two family businesses in the funeral parlour industry and specifically in terms of the influence of context on entrepreneurial orientation.


Mr Tony-Matchaba-hove has also conducted his doctoral research on indegenous African family businesses by applying the STEP framework in a non-Western context.  Other masters projects have been conducated based on the STEP framework and several research papers generated from these research projects have been presented at national and international academic conferences.


For more information about the STEP project, visit their website: