Youth unemployment is on the rise in South Africa, and yet at the same time youth entrepreneurship is declining. Christo Botes, executive director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), says that the recently released Social Profile of Youth 2009 – 2014 report highlights this trend, and reveals that the number of youth entrepreneurs declined from 609 000 in 2009 to 543 000 in 2014.
He says that in order to reverse this trend, South African youth need to be equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to start and run a micro or small business. “Many youth possess an entrepreneurial mind-set but either simply don’t have the necessary skills or access to resources to take a business idea and turn it into a successful start-up business.”
To bridge the gap between entrepreneurial thinking and actually establishing a start-up business, the 2016 SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs will once again provide the opportunity for young and ambitious entrepreneurs (18 – 35 years) to take the plunge by providing free business training, with the overall winners receiving cash prizes and mentorship sessions from leading business experts.
The SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs enables hundreds of young entrepreneurs to gain valuable training in many aspects that starting a business entails, as well as create a platform that rewards budding entrepreneurs’ ideas and plans.
Botes explains that this competition differs from others in that there is much more on offer than one main prize for the overall winner. “The platform’s real value lies in the guidance and assistance that every participant will receive when compiling their business plan – the starting point for any business.”
The competition comprises of 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.
This year the nationwide competition will extend the number of young South Africans that can attend and participate in the workshop to 900, up from last year’s capacity of 400.
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 the businesses started.
The third and final phase of the competition culminates during Global Entrepreneurship Week, usually the second week in November, where one of the regional winners will be named the overall, national winner. The national prize includes R 25 000 in cash, mentorship worth R 12 000 and a smart tablet or similar.
Regardless of whether entrants are named as winners, Botes says that every participant will benefit from the business workshops, feedback and networking that the programme provides. “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. During these highly regarded sessions, participants are able to meet other like-minded young people, exchange ideas and get to start useful business networks.
He adds that the workshops have also proven invaluable to those participants who are not quite sure whether they are ready to start a business as it provides a thorough and realistic overview of what is required to do so. “After attending, a number of participants each year decide to rather gain a few years’ work experience first before starting out on their own. This does not mean that the platform has failed for those participants. On the contrary, it empowers by giving them the full picture of what it means to start your own business,” concludes Botes.
To enter the SME Toolkit BUSINESS/PARTNERS Business Plan Competition for Aspiring Young Entrepreneurs, please visit http://southafrica.smetoolkit.org/.