Youth Entrepreneurial Programmes in South Africa

Updated on 12 June 2024

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Youth entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is not about just starting a business, it is the creative mind of thinking that includes pinpointing opportunities and taking risks to turn ideas into reality. In South Africa, youth entrepreneurship plays a significant role by introducing new products and services, increasing competition and driving our economic growth.
Youth entrepreneurs are important drivers of economic development in South Africa because of their new ideas, creativity, and ability to offer solutions to the country. They are the ones who can reduce unemployment while increasing job creation. Even if they have the potential to do so, they face a number of problems, such as a lack of mentors or direction, access to capital, and funding options.
This is why youth entrepreneurship initiatives are vital for youth entrepreneurs to become involved and access resources and tools to make their business journey go well.
Here are some of the youth entrepreneurial programmes that you can participate in:

Government Initiatives for Youth Entrepreneurs

For youth entrepreneurship to grow and unemployment to go down in South Africa,  the government started a range of policies to support entrepreneurs, including financial incentives, mentorship programmes, and business incubation programmes to help them overcome barriers and keep their businesses growing.
Various government initiatives aimed at fostering youth entrepreneurship. Examples include:

1. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)

The NYDA Grant Programme is designed to provide young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to access both financial and non-financial business development support in order to enable them to establish or grow their businesses.
The services include:
  • Mentorship
  • Business Consultancy Services
  • Market Linkages
  • Business Management Training Programme
  • Youth Co-operative Development Programme

2. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Programs

DTI Programme has a variety of programmes to support youth in the pipeline. These cover topics such as entrepreneurship, mentorship and coaching, business incubation, assistance with access to markets, and business infrastructure support.

3. Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA)

SEDA is an agency of the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD). SEDA provides non-financial support to small enterprises and cooperatives. Its services are accessible through its 54 branches and over 100 incubation centres and hubs nationwide.
The Agency’s services include business information, business training, incubation, access to markets, technology assistance, and marketing support.

4. The Small Enterprise Finance Agency

SEFA  provides development finance to SMMEs and cooperatives that are not able to attract commercial credit. SEFA is committed to providing these entities with the best service and expertise and strives to do so in innovative and creative ways.

Private Sector and NGO Involvement with Youth Entrepreneurship

Private companies and NGOs also support entrepreneurship through various initiatives like incubation hubs, mentorship programmes, and even competitions to help entrepreneurs and be drivers of the economy.

1. Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs

A.Y.E. Organization is the largest entrepreneurship network in Africa. A.Y.E unites and empowers entrepreneurs in Africa, by encouraging them to network socially, intellectually and financially, thereby developing a generation of outstanding African entrepreneurs who will shape the economic landscapes of their home countries.

2. The SAB Foundation

The SAB Foundation provides a continuous journey of support for entrepreneurs to have access to funding, business skills development, tailored mentorship, and assistance with access to markets and finance. Our programmes are designed to help take our entrepreneurs from ideation to growth and beyond.

3.  African Cooperative Desk

ACD Incubation programme is a platform linking youth SMMEs and aspirant youth entrepreneurs with critical resources needed for the development and growth stages of their enterprise’s development cycle.

4. Amstel Entrepreneur

Amstel Entrepreneur is an initiative that partners with community radio stations to identify, upskill and award R 1 million in marketing and business support, mentorship and publicity to township businesses to help them grow.

Challenges and Barriers for Young Entrepreneurs

The research findings in this brief suggest that this proximity issue faced by young entrepreneurs is caused by a lack of critical business skills and experience. Furthermore, isolation further impacts their ability to access important information about available support and opportunities. Isolation affects not only access to information but also the credibility of information. Similarly, this distance impacts the quality of support by inhibiting the ability of business development service providers to engage more directly in townships and better understand the needs of these entrepreneurs. Youth entrepreneurial programmes aim to rectify this.

How Youth Programs Support Young Entrepreneurs

Youth entrepreneurship programmes often provide mentorship and networking opportunities, which can be invaluable for new business owners. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to entrepreneurship training, the goal is to equip youth entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the business world. With the proper training, anyone can become a successful entrepreneur.
Young entrepreneurs need to be involved in youth entrepreneurial programmes to gain access to mentorship, and network opportunities while equipping themselves with the business world. This is what enables them to succeed in their business ventures. By being empowered in this way, the youth can continue to drive economic development in South Africa.

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