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Success stories on non-formal adult education and training for self-employment in micro-enterprises in South Africa

Celestin Mayombe (School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 14 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the way the adult non-formal education and training (NFET) centres motivated and empowered graduates to start their own micro-enterprises as individuals or as a group. The specific objectives are as follows: to find out the transforming factors fostering the utilisation of acquired skills into self-employment in micro-enterprises; to investigate challenges encountered in starting and managing micro-enterprises and to investigate short-term impact of the NFET programmes and micro-enterprises on living conditions of graduates.


The research design was multiple case studies. Semi-structured interviews and field observations were used for data collection in the qualitative study. In the context of non-probability sampling, the study used the purposive sampling method to select five out of 20 self-employed graduates for one-on-one interviews. Case studies also comprised some observations of activities in their small businesses.


The main findings reveal that “learning by doing” training approach and forming groups of entrepreneurs while being on the programme were major factors fostering the translation of acquired skills into micro-enterprises.

Practical implications

The adult NFET is a tool to enable poor disadvantaged people to improve their well-being. However, this can be achieved if the livelihood skills training is combined with the creation of conducive environments to allow adult trainees become micro-entrepreneurs and self-reliant.


The study contributes to the knowledge of effective entrepreneurial training programmes by demonstrating the importance of involving stakeholders from the local communities and designing post-training support mechanisms for self-employment prior to the training delivery. The centre managers should also motivate trainees to start micro-enterprises in groups or co-operatives while still on the training programmes.



Mayombe, C. (2017), "Success stories on non-formal adult education and training for self-employment in micro-enterprises in South Africa", Education + Training, Vol. 59 No. 7/8, pp. 871-887.



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