The three factors needed to unleash youth entrepreneurship
Youth unemployment is a major global and local challenge. It’s been labelled a ‘ticking time bomb’ as ‘generation jobless’ struggle to gain and maintain any employment. Some estimate that upwards of 73 million people worldwide between 15 and 24 are unemployed.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk 2014 report, South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world to those between the ages of 15 to 24. This means that more than 50% of young South Africans in this category are unemployed.
Youth entrepreneurship is the answer
Entrepreneurs are at the heartbeat of new job creation with hiring plans which outpace the rest of the market. Supporting these entrepreneurs to grow their businesses will have some impact on employment rates. But the real secret to massive job creation numbers is to equip and inspire young people to start their own businesses.
The power of youth entrepreneurship could be unleashed by the following three factors:
Factor 1: Visible role models
Entrepreneurship is very attractive to today’s youth who are increasingly jaded regarding the traditional 9 to 5 job opportunity. However, the leap into entrepreneurship is daunting. This is why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate young, successful entrepreneurs.
Some of South Africa’s brightest and boldest young entrepreneurs include:
Nqobile Nkosi was an unemployed and unskilled youth who got a break when he was selected to attend a two-year jewellery manufacturing course at the Soweto Jewellery School. Today Nqobile is the owner of NQ Jewellery Design Services, a Soweto-based start-up with international links. The brand was named as a Hot 100 brand in the UK.
Jonathan Liebmann is the property entrepreneur behind the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg. Owning several buildings with ambitious plans to revive inner city living, Liebmann is dispelling the myth that property entrepreneurs need to be older and more established.
Alex Fourie founded iFix, a company which services and repairs all Apple products and Samsung smartphones. The company employs 40 people and has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Not bad for an entrepreneur who started his business from his university dorm room.
For more inspiration visit digital magazine Nunnovation.com or the blog iamyoungpreneur.com for regular profiles on young, African game-changing entrepreneurs.
Factor 2: Access to information
While the economic climate is tough, there are a number of private, NGO and government initiatives out there that aim to boost youth development. Here, access to information is key to unlocking entrepreneurship at a younger age.
Networking can be a valuable way to make connections and understand what opportunities are available. If you’re still at school, you could consider the High School Entrepreneurs Society. The purpose of the society is to recruit school goers interested in entrepreneurship and participate in events that promote entrepreneurship in schools and communities around the school.
Have a great concept but need to learn more about business fundamentals? If so you may be a candidate for both training and funding through the Awethu Project.
Here is a useful breakdown of the services and initiatives that the South African government provides to support young job seekers. There are various youth employment and funding opportunities made available by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Most people need some work experience before they become entrepreneurs. Organisations like Harambee work to train and place graduates at leading employers.
Factor 3: Mentorship opportunities
Starting a business from scratch is tough, especially if you don’t have much prior working and managerial experience.
Although younger generations may be tech-savvy with a wealth of information at their fingertips, there are many things that can only be learnt by experience. This makes mentorship opportunities invaluable. For many young entrepreneurs, purchasing a franchise allows them to run their own business with the support, commitment and strong brand provided by experienced franchisors.
As US President Franklin Roosevelt commented “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Mentorship is key to preparing our youth for this future.