City of Cape Town to run youth entrepreneurship challenge

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The City of Cape Town has partnered entrepreneurship training organisation Seed Academy to launch the #YouthStartCT Entrepreneurial Challenge, an accelerator programme for startup entrepreneurs who have viable business ideas that will also create jobs.

The partnership between the City of Cape Town’s Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate and Seed Academy is designed to kickstart the businesses of 100 young entrepreneurs with viable startup ideas.

The #YouthStartCT Entrepreneurial Challenge will offer participants business skills development, while also providing mentoring and cash incentives to the top performers as part of a broader strategy to address issues of unemployment, inequality and poverty alleviation.

“We talk often about job creation, but an integral part of that process is empowering potential employers who can contribute to our job creation efforts,” said mayoral committee member for social development and early childhood development, Councillor Suzette Little.

“It’s one thing to create a job opportunity for an individual, but it’s far more beneficial to equip an individual who has a hunger and desire to own their own business with the skills to make that dream a reality and put them in a position to create job opportunities for dozens if not hundreds of others.”

The #YouthStartCT challenge is open to residents of Cape Town aged between 18 to 35. After the closing date for applications, Seed Academy, which is running the challenge on behalf of the City, will assess the submissions and select the top 100 entries.

This group will participate in a 10-week long mentoring and training course, after which it will be whittled down to the top 50, top 10 and, finally, the top three. The overall winner at the end of the competition will receive prizes and support in the implementation of their business idea, with the City of Cape Town also in the process of devising a strategy to help further the ideas of the top 100 participants.

“We’re always talking about making progress possible together. This is an example of how government is helping individuals help themselves. We need to move away from the perception that government alone is meant to solve our socio-economic challenges,” said Little.

“We need people who’ll put their hands up and work with us to make the change. So this really is a call to action to those young people who believe they have an idea that will take off and make a meaningful contribution to our job creation and poverty alleviation efforts. I am very excited about this challenge and have no doubt that we’ll be blown away by the ideas to be presented.”

Seed Academy executive director Lara Rosmarin said the company believed the development of entrepreneurs and nurturing of startups through training and incubation are vital to imparting the right skills and encouraging young South Africans to consider entrepreneurship a viable career option.

“Our programmes have been designed with sustainability in mind – we ensure our entrepreneurs are equipped, personally and professionally, to know what it takes to build, run and scale a business. We look forward to taking this journey with them,” she said.

Telecommunications firm Altech Radio Holdings has come on board as a sponsor and partner in the challenge. Managing director Brett Nash said the company has a “rich history of supporting skills development and job creation programmes”, and welcomed the opportunity to be part of the initiative.

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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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