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 Entrepreneurship offers SA youth hope amidst recession

 Opportunity for 900 young aspiring entrepreneurs to jump start their business with national free business training workshops

 Adding to the woes of South Africa’s unemployment rate hitting a 13-year high of 27.7%, Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of 2017 revealed that the youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to 38.6%, and with the economy entering a technical recession, businesses are likely to slow expansion and hiring, further hindering the prospect of future employment.

In light of these challenging circumstances, Christo Botes – executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – says that it is now more crucial than ever before to equip South Africa’s youth with the necessary skills and knowledge to start and run their own micro or small business.

“Increased unemployment among the youth is extremely worrying, as the prospect of finding employment tends to deteriorate as the period spent unemployed extends. We therefore want to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to take the plunge at creating their own employment, but in order to do this, the necessary resources and required support need to be made readily available.”

Having already successfully spring-boarded hundreds of young entrepreneurs over the past seven years, the 2017 SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs will once again provide the opportunity for young and ambitious individuals (18 – 35 years) to try their hand at entrepreneurship by providing free business training, with the eight regional winners and one overall winner receiving cash prizes and vouchers for mentorship sessions from leading business experts.

The competition comprises three phases – the first being a full-day workshop which equips all candidates with the necessary knowledge to compile a business plan. All the essential elements of starting a business will be discussed, including financial management, marketing, legal considerations and employment issues.

During the second phase, participants are required to draft and submit their business plans, which a panel of judges will evaluate. Eight regional winners will then be selected and each will be awarded mentorship sessions worth R 6 000, which will assist them to develop their business plans further and get their businesses started.

The third and final phase of the competition culminates during Global Entrepreneurship Week, 13 – 17 November 2017, where one of the regional winners will be named the overall, national winner. The national prize includes R 25 000 in cash, mentorship voucher worth R 12 000 and a smart tablet or similar.

Botes explains that this competition differs from others in that even participants who don’t win, will receive support to aid their entrepreneurial journey. “In previous years, all entrants have found the workshops to be extremely motivating, and the competition has spurred hundreds of young entrepreneurs to put their ideas into action as often it is the lack of this business ‘know how’ that prevents young entrepreneurs from translating their business idea into an actual trading business. During these highly regarded sessions, participants are also able to meet other like-minded young people, exchange ideas and get to start useful business networks.”

He concludes by encouraging all aspiring entrepreneurs – even those who are not sure if they’re ready to take the leap – to apply and take part in this free competition. “The workshops provide an extensive overview of what starting a business really entails, which allows those who may be doubtful to gain clarity on whether or not this is the right path for them to take. The platform therefore essentially allows participants to take the plunge, without being exposed to the full extent of real-life risks and having access to a variety of recourses and expert support,” concludes Botes.

To enter the SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs, please visit http://southafrica.smetoolkit.org/. The competition launches on 15 June 2017 and the closing date for the first phase of the competition is 17:00 on Monday, 31 July 2017.

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