Initiative to help young entrepreneurs

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29 February 2012

South Africa's National Youth Development Agency has launched the Ithubalentsha Micro Enterprise Programme, which will provide young aspirant and established entrepreneurs with training, mentorship, micro-enterprise finance, market linkages and access to business opportunities.

According to the agency, young entrepreneurs face several barriers including lack of finance to start or expand their businesses, inadequate mentorship and business opportunities, and lack of business management and other appropriate skills.

This is especially the case with for young people in rural and peri-urban areas, as well as young people with disabilities.

It says all these factors combined often become entry barriers to business or result in a high failure rate among start-up businesses initiated by young entrepreneurs.

The programme seeks to address this through five key areas: identification and technical training, entrepreneurship training, micro-enterprise finance, business mentorship and business opportunities and market linkages.

"What the programme aims to achieve is to give young entrepreneurs the exposure that they need to succeed by facilitating access to mentors and business opportunities in both public and private sectors, while also empowering them with the relevant skills and start-up loans ranging from R1000 to R100000," explained NYDA chief executive Steven Ngubeni in a statement last week.

According to statistics, an estimated 73% of South Africa's youth, who make up 42% of the country's population, are unemployed - a reality that needs to be addressed if the country is to effectively eradicate poverty, he said.

"We believe that the Ithubalentsha Programme will go a long way in creating direct and sustainable employment for young people thereby alleviating the scourge of youth unemployment, which is a major concern to the NYDA."

While the programme is aimed at young aspirant and established South African entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35, preferences will be given to young people in rural and peri-urban areas and to those living with disabilities.

Call for volunteers

The agency is calling on South Africans experienced in the areas of leadership, management and business to volunteer to be mentors.

"The NYDA recognises that it cannot do this alone. South Africa is what it is today because of the power of partnerships and what they can achieve," said Ngubeni. "We want to partner with the public and private sector and South Africans in general to make the Ithubalentsha Micro Enterprise Programme effective."

Focus is on experienced entrepreneurs, business consultants, middle or senior managers, retired professionals, and life/business coaches.

In addition, an appeal is being made to public and private organisations to avail business opportunities such as procurement, retail and distribution, acquisition of equity stakes and others.

Among those who have come onboard are successful NYDA and Ithubalentsha ambassadors: Rita Zwane, owner of Imbizo Buy & Braai (popularly known as Busy Corner), author and activist for people with disabilities, Nenio Mbazima, and Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, CEO of South African digital marketing agency, KrazyBoyz Digital.

For more information about Ithubalentsha Micro-Enterprise Programme and how to get involved, potential mentors and young entrepreneurs can visit the NYDA website at www.nyda.gov.za or e-mail ithuba@nyda.gov.za.

SAinfo reporter

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