What more must I do to succeed?

2011-03-05 13:03

Dear Mr President
The Honourable Jacob Zuma,

I write this open letter to you as I am fast running out of options. I hope that after reading it you will heed my request for your personal intervention.

It is an open secret that ours is a country that struggles with poverty borne of unemployment, a point clearly not lost on you as you have noted several times that the vast majority of the poor and unemployed are rural women and young people.

Your administration, trade union confederation Cosatu and others have spoken of the need to create jobs.

Unemployment will be a major issue for quite some time, with official numbers at 25% and unemployment among young people between 18 and 24 at 50%.

It is my considered guess that the vast majority of those 50% of unemployed youths are black. Considering that the majority of our country is black that is a worrying statistic.

I personally champion creating jobs, but therein room must be made for those of us who have absolutely no desire to be employed – those of us who want to be creators of employment.

It is worth noting that entrepreneur­- ship makes up a very small portion in the much touted new growth plan.

It is not very encouraging for an entrepreneur such as myself.

I remember you personally advising youths attending the World Youth Festival to create jobs for themselves and others by starting their own businesses.

It is interesting that again in the ANC’s January 8 statement you spoke about the need to create opportunities for entrepreneur­- ship.

That is all good and well, Sir, but we need capital to start businesses and I submit to you that it is nigh on impossible for you to get even a fraction of that much-needed capital if you are not well off, your family and friends are in no position to loan you the money, and you have no assets of your own and no one to stand surety for you?– which brings me to my next point.

You have spoken of the role of state-owned enterprises and developmental finance institutions being crucial in the drive to achieve the envisaged objectives of the new growth plan.

I am starting my own business – a process that is frustrated by institutions which purport to be mandated to assist entrepreneurs such as myself.

They give the most whimsical reasons for refusing you financing, regardless of whether or not yours is a viable business proposition.

These state-owned financiers (the NYDA, IDC, Mega and all the other acronyms you can think of) claim to operate differently from private financiers, but in my experience their practices are just as bad, if not worse.

I seriously doubt I am the first entrepreneur to be frustrated by these financiers and I will definitely not be the last.

I am starting a particular media venture that will add to the diversity of our media, in more ways than one.

But the banks won’t fund me (no collateral), the IDC won’t fund me (I applied for R10 million, yet they somehow figure that’s less than their stated R1 million minimum and it “falls outside their mandate”), and the NYDA won’t fund me (I need more money than they offer and they are too busy throwing parties with money some us could put to better use).

What is a young man like me supposed to do, Sir?

I would like to believe that this gargantuan mountain we entrepreneurs, especially young black ones, have to fight just to get a little bit of capital is partly to blame for reducing black entrepreneurs to tenderpreneurs and frontmen.

I refuse to be reduced to being either one of those.

I would like to be one success story of your presidency.

I refuse to accept defeat by a system that was never designed to give me a fighting chance.

Bab’ Zuma, pardon me if in any way I have spoken out of turn, but I would like to believe I am not the only one for whom the rhetoric is fast getting old and will not suffice any more.

I need action and finance.

I would like your personal intervention (particularly in my case), ngiyakucela Baba.

Yours faithfully,
Trevor Chalufu

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