Youth Entrepreneurship - A missing link to South Africa's economic growth

2014-11-07 10:25

Genuine entrepreneurs are the engine of sustainable economic growth and innovation in South African as a nation. Under proper governance and encouraging environment, they can make a pivotal contribution to the socio-economic development of the continent. However, entrepreneurs, particularly owning Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), have continued confronting formidable challenges.

With a high number of SMME falling within a period of 5 years, it is time for the economic burden to be lifted off the government and for entrepreneurship, diversification and individual empowerment to carry us forward.

Today the problems South Africa faces seem big, and it seems the only force strong enough to fight them is the government. We say this and yet we ignore the potential we have within us and if we come together, everyone contributing. For this to be achieved mobilization of resources and acting courageously is our only recourse.

The current rate of unemployment in South Africa estimated to be about 24% (CIA World Fact book, 2012) is unacceptable. South Africa currently has one of the highest unemployment rates internationally. Our economy had entered a period of "jobless growth".

More and more of our young graduates are either unemployed or are placed in wrong positions. Research has shown that South Africa is facing structural unemployment and something needs to be done fast and now. South African youth over dependence on government to create jobs must come to an end. Not only are we having high rate of unemployment but always a very low entrepreneurial activity as compared to others developing nations (2009 GEM Report, entrepreneurial activity amongst male South African is about 7% and female about 5%).

The most affected by these rates are young graduates. They lack the necessary skills, inspiration, motivation and acumen to take advantage of their creative and innovative minds. There is lack of entrepreneurial culture and skills among South African Youth.

As a young entrepreneur, I've been late to meetings due to using public transport. I've needed someone to tell that "My project didn't go well, what could have led to that?" I needed fast internet and data bundles not running out every now and then. At times I had to make calls to many companies recharging with different sim cards, comparing rates of various cellphone networks. I've been there.

I've however learned that there are 5 things any young person from a disadvantaged community needs for him/her to become a better entrepreneur:

1. A mentor

2. Access to internet and a telephone

3. Access to efficient transport

4. Healthy and nutritious food

5. Right network of people

With these 5 things firmly in place, you don't need anything more.

Youth entrepreneurship is not something that would be 'nice' to have as a nation; it is a national imperative and the allocation of our national budget must reflect that; our schooling system must reflect that."

Follow Abuti Rams on Twitter (@abutirams) & Facebook (www.fb.com/abutirams)

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