Enterprise Development and Dynamics in the  Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve

Executive Summary 

This study has for the first time in South Africa provided a quantitative picture of enterprise  development and dynamics in a biosphere, i.e. the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR). 

The distribution of town populations, total enterprises, the enterprise numbers in many business  sectors and the distribution of enterprise types follow power laws. It is, possible that entrepreneurial spaces are subject to self-organization and this phenomenon plays a role in the  size distribution of GCBR towns. 

Two broad entrepreneurial types were identified: ‘run-of-the-mill’ and ‘special’ entrepreneurs.  They differ in their importance in the growth or decline of towns of different sizes and a strong  predictive capability with regard to this phenomenon was developed. 

In the GCBR there are extraordinary regularities between economic, demographic and  entrepreneurial characteristics, suggesting an underlying cyclic system in which money is the  principal driver that determines population sizes and enterprise numbers and distributions. The  ‘GCBR system’ will produce its inherent outcomes and ‘strategies of hope’ will not work. For  particular outcomes, the system has to be redesigned to produce the desired outcomes.  

The key to sustainable economic development is to increase the inflow of money from  sustainable external sources. Many business sectors are limited by the extent of their local  markets but some bring money in from outside e.g. the tourism or processing sectors. They  should be targeted for expansion. 

A quantitative picture of the formal enterprise structures and dynamics of the GCBR was also  developed. Clustering techniques based on the enterprise structures identified four clusters of  towns, which will simplify economic planning. The identification of the leading and lagging  business sectors in GCBR towns provides further useful information for evaluating towns’  prospects but also questions the wisdom of lumping towns with different prospects together in a  single local municipality and then producing a single local economic development plan plan.. 

All in all the GCBR is well situated to pursue sustainable economic development, which, at least  partly, can be based on its natural environmental assets.


On the southern edge of Africa is a place all humans can call “home” – where almost 200 000  years ago the earliest modern ancestors began their journey across Africa and the world. This  place is located in the heart of the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR). Registered as a  non-profit company, the GCBR is a citizens’ initiative dedicated to the conservation of the region’s biodiversity and tied to socioeconomic development for the wellbeing of its peoples  (GCBR undated).  

Biosphere Reserves are designated by UNESCO (Georgewright.org, undated,a).  The essence of the biosphere reserve concept is about the combination of three  complementary functions: conservation (of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation), sustainable development (fostering economic development which is  ecologically and culturally sustainable), and logistical support (research, monitoring, education  and training) (Pool-Stanvliet, 2013). UNESCO designated the GCBR in 2015 as a place of major  biodiversity significance for the planet. 

The biosphere reserve concept is very much in line with modern thinking of landscape  management because it seeks to balance ecological requirements with the economic needs of  people living in these particular areas (Pool-Stanvliet, 2013). For this reason it is potentially one  of the greatest instruments to promote collaboration across administrative and political  boundaries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, while demonstrating a practical implementation of  sustainable development. 

Biosphere Reserves fall under the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of  UNESCO, which presently focuses on a set of related scientific research projects: (i) minimizing the loss of biological diversity, (ii) making people aware of how  cultural diversity and biological diversity affect each other; and (iii) promoting environmental sustainability through the World Network of Biosphere Reserves  (Georgewright.org, undated,b). 

In 2000 the Western Cape adopted bioregional planning as a framework that provides guidelines  for all planning documentation. Biosphere reserves were identified as a spatial model for the  implementation of the principles (Pool-Stanvliet, 2013). 

The enterprise dynamics of South African towns are complex but exhibit many regularities (or  proportionalities), i.e. enterprise sectors vary in a similar fashion (when the one is high, so is the  other, and vice versa) (Toerien, 2012, 2014; Toerien & Seaman, 2010, 2011, 2012a,b,c,d, 2014).  Some of these regularities are also linked to economic factors such as value addition,  employment and personal income (Toerien & Seaman, 2012c). Based on the ideas of Kahneman  (2011), the observed regularities should provide predictive capabilities about enterprise  dynamics To promote sustainable development in the communities of the GCBR and to make  people aware of the interactions of the biological and cultural diversities of the area, it is, therefore, necessary to identify and quantify the existing enterprises of the area and to unravel  their dynamics..  

The prime purposes of this project were, therefore, to: (i) identify and quantify the formal  enterprises in the towns of the GCBR and their surrounding areas (Figure 1.1), (ii) to investigate  their dynamics, and, (iii) to interpret these in terms of sustainable development.