Entrepreneurship, the new normal

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The month of June, is better known as Youth Month in South Africa, this month is dedicated to the youth of 1976 who stood up against the apartheid government and laid down their lives fighting for freedom and for the right to equal education. Government is commemorating 2020 Youth Month under the theme: “Youth Power: Growing South Africa together in the period of Covid-19.”  

When June 16 was declared National Youth Day in 1994, it was aimed at remembering the memories of those who died and suffered during this day as well as to carry on with their legacy and principles of selflessness, determination and devotion that is necessary for success and growth for any society or nation. For the first time in or 26-years of democracy, we are commemorating the Youth Month with restrictions, as the country and the rest of the world battle the global outbreak of Covid-19.

The youth of 1976 fought an oppressive regime, therefore it is incumbent upon the youth of 2020 to work together to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to fight unemployment post-Covid-19.

Covid-19 is a new disease for which people don’t have immunity to and is spreading around the world beyond expectations. To-date millions of people have been infected by Covid-19 and millions more are expected to be infected. However, this crisis shouldn’t be a call to panic regardless of how tough it might be under the circumstances.

Young people represent a valuable resource during the Covid-19 crisis. With the right training on the disease and its transmission, young people can work jointly with the health authorities to help break the chain of infection, spreading accurate information in the social medial, and speaking against discrimination, stigma and reminding all youth to be considerate to one another.

Many young people live in conditions that put them at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 and these include in particular vulnerable youth such as young women, youth with disabilities, homeless youth, those in detention, youth from very poor households, and young people living in crowded areas such as townships or slums. Vulnerable young people also have limited access to technology and alternative forms of education and information, including on how to mitigate exposure to Covid-19. 
 
Entrepreneurship should become the new normal!

Pre-Covid-19 we already had high levels of youth unemployment, which will only be worsened by Covid-19. Although entrepreneurship is often put forward as a solution to a country’s rising youth unemployment rate, data usually indicates that youth participation in entrepreneurship remains very low. 

Entrepreneurs should be thought of as national assets to be cultivated and motivated to the greatest possible extent. Great entrepreneurs have the ability to change the way we live and work. If successful, their innovations may improve standards of living, and in addition they also create jobs and contribute to a growing economy.

Entrepreneurship is thus important for a number of reasons, from promoting social change to driving innovation. Entrepreneurs also spur economic growth, which will be much needed post Covid-19, as new products and services created by entrepreneurs can produce a cascading effect, where it stimulates related businesses or sectors that need to support the new venture, furthering economic development.

Additionally, increased employment and higher earnings, through entrepreneurship, contribute to a better national income in the form of higher tax revenue. This revenue can be used by the government to invest in other, struggling sectors and human capital. Government must create an enabling environment in which young entrepreneurs can be developed. The relationship between entrepreneurship and economic development is important to understand for government and policymakers.

The call on government during Youth Month is to facilitate more opportunities to create more Entrepreneurs

• Government must create more and value entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs will become the backbone of any growing economy and the government should do everything in its power to help them succeed. If we help create one entrepreneur, we can effectively be creating numerous additional jobs.

• Everyone should be an entrepreneur. Our policy position should be that everyone: the farmer, the domestic worker, the student, the unemployed, the disabled, should all be potential entrepreneurs. Opportunities and support for potential entrepreneurs should be made available for everyone – but especially for our young people.  

• Big investments in small businesses. We must be prepared to make big investment in small businesses, like SMMEs, because small businesses have the potential to create the majority of the new jobs post Covid-19. Government therefore must and continue to provide venture capital to create new businesses. 

• Educate youth in entrepreneurship. It must be obvious that our schools must educate young people in how to become more entrepreneurial. Training and development opportunities should be made available on all platforms for entrepreneurial development. 

As we commemorate youth month, young people should aspire to move from being job-seekers to becoming job-providers! We must stand together in these uncertain times presented by Covid-19 and high levels of unemployment. Regardless of what lies in store for us, we must remain certain that it includes a bright future, and that young people is the key to a brighter future. Entrepreneurship is the key in the fight against youth unemployment!

Long live the spirit of 1976, long live!