Entrepreneurship offers SA youth hope amidst recession

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Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017 has revealed that the youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, with the economy entering a technical recession, businesses are likely to slow expansion and hiring, further hindering the prospect of future employment.

In light of these challenging circumstances, Christo Botes – executive director at South African risk finance firm Business Partners – believes it is now more crucial than ever to equip South Africa’s youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to start and run their own businesses.

“Increased unemployment among the youth is extremely worrying, as the prospect of finding employment tends to deteriorate as the period spent unemployed extends,” Botes said.

“We therefore want to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to take the plunge at creating their own employment, but in order to do this, the necessary resources and required support need to be made readily available.”

To stimulate this process, Business Partners is again running its Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs, providing the opportunity for young and ambitious individuals to try their hand at entrepreneurship by providing free business training. The eight regional winners and one overall winner will receive cash prizes and vouchers for mentorship sessions from leading business experts.

The competition comprises three phases – a full-day workshop, the drafting and submission of business plans, and the selection of winners, which will take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November.

Botes said this competition differs from others in that even participants who do not win will receive support to aid their entrepreneurial journey.

“In previous years, all entrants have found the workshops to be extremely motivating, and the competition has spurred hundreds of young entrepreneurs to put their ideas into action as often it is the lack of this business ‘know how’ that prevents young entrepreneurs from translating their business idea into an actual trading business. During these highly regarded sessions, participants are also able to meet other like-minded young people, exchange ideas and get to start useful business networks,” he said.

Botes encouraged all aspiring entrepreneurs – even those unsure if they were ready to take the leap – to apply and take part in the competition.

“The workshops provide an extensive overview of what starting a business really entails, which allows those who may be doubtful to gain clarity on whether or not this is the right path for them to take. The platform therefore essentially allows participants to take the plunge, without being exposed to the full extent of real-life risks and having access to a variety of recourses and expert support,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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