South Africa has difficulty in addressing unemployment, poverty and shortage of skills in critical areas (Mzagwa, 2016). According to Ferreira and Rossouw (2016) the National Development Plan (NDP): vision 2030 has identified small and medium business sector as key to reducing these challenges. Leboea (2017) posits that in spite of the efforts to support the small business sector, rural entrepreneurship still struggle to make significant contribution to economic development and growth. The purpose of this study was to determine the role entrepreneurship education and training could play in sustaining small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in rural areas.
The study aimed to determine the importance of entrepreneurship education and training; critical focus areas for entrepreneurship education and training; appropriate approaches for implementation of entrepreneurship education and training interventions; role of government in entrepreneurship education and training; as well as the role of commercial banks in entrepreneurship education and training. The study was conducted in rural Sekhukhune District in South Africa. The sample was consisted of 24 participants that included SMEs owner/managers and government support officials selected through purposive sampling. Semi- structured interviews were adopted as data collection tool.
The findings revealed the need for knowledge of the business environment; basic literacy in entrepreneurship skills; differentiated learner-centred approach; review of government support approach; and finally, collaboration between commercial banks and government. The study has successfully established entrepreneurship education and training as critical role player in sustaining SMEs in rural areas. The results are expected to impact on community development programmes, government policy review, commercial banks’ funding approach, as well as contribution to the academic body of knowledge. The findings were limited by the small sample selected from one district. Future studies should consider exploring the phenomenon with larger samples covering more districts, in a wider provincial area.