Youth Development: Empowering the Next Generation

Updated on 18 July 2014

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Grooming student entrepreneurs

At the launch of the “Step Up 2 A Start Up” programme in Johannesburg on Wednesday, the government and big businesses collaborated to demonstrate their commitment to empowering the youth.

Speaking at the gala dinner, NYDA chairperson Yershen Pillay, said this ambitious programme presented a perfect opportunity for his organisation and other state entities to facilitate youth development. He said it is now the time to shift the focus from developing job-seeking young people to job-creating youths.

“If we are to succeed in fostering entrepreneurship in South Africa, we must present it as a viable option at school level, alongside other career choices”

“Young people cannot become self-sustaining entrepreneurs without the necessary guidance, skills and education which they can now access before even leaving the school,” he said.

Step Up 2 A Start Up is the brainchild of Martin Sweet (pictured above), MD of Primestars and Director at Primedia. Sweet said there has to be a shift in the mindset about entrepreneurship.

“If we are to succeed in fostering entrepreneurship in South Africa, we must present it as a viable option at the school level, alongside other career choices,” said Sweet.

“Whilst the majority of entrepreneurship programmes target post-matric youth, this ground-breaking initiative aims to inspire a culture of entrepreneurship and wealth creation early on in the career development process,” he said.

Primestars has partnered with Regenesys Business School which will provide a globally-recognized educational content.

The idea is to make use of Ster Kinekor cinemas as “centres of learning”  every weekend for many previously disadvantaged secondary school-going learners. Academic career guidance, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and leadership programmes are all presented by guests.

Learners will be transported to these learning centres and begin their journey by watching an inspirational entrepreneurship movie. A step-by-step entrepreneurial toolkit will be provided to guide learners from concept to marketing. All the activities will eventually culminate in a national competition to showcase their ideas, followed by a three-day boot camp for finalists. Prizes go up to R300 000.

Adding the government’s voice was the Department of Trade and Industry director-general, Lionel October, who said the Ministry of Small Businesses will soon open centres of entrepreneurship at FETs and universities.

This initiative enjoys a huge endorsement from banks, state-owned enterprises, telecommunications, and private companies.

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