Entrepreneurs in South Africa have been encouraged to look for business opportunities for 2010 and beyond.
Malose Kekana, chief executive officer of Umsobomvu Youth Fund (UYF) said entrepreneurs need to be educated and informed about businesses they venture into. Kekana was speaking at the 5th Annual Entrepreneurship Development Conference (EDC) and Business Development Exhibition held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week.
This year's theme: "Youth Entrepreneurship for 2010 and beyond: Unlocking, unleashing and Empowerment" is an active campaign to promote entrepreneurship among the youth. He said last year's conference was aimed at identifying opportunities created by the 2010 FIFA World Cup platform's programmes and projects.
"The 2010 World Cup is the place to be at for entrepreneurs particularly in the catering, information technology and transportation sectors," said Kekana. Kekana said the conference was both a learning experience and platform to exchange ideas.
He said UYF exists to assist with funding and urged entrepreneurs and young people who want to start their own businesses to focus on finding solutions and innovative ideas that will bring in money.
"Entrepreneurs should focus on sustainable and long-term goals for their businesses and not just focus on what 2010 has to offer," said Kekana.
According to Kekana, previous conferences have found that entrepreneurs where they exist are not publicly profiled thus resulting in negative perceptions of youth entrepreneurship.
It was at the 2004 conference that the group decided to address challenges faced by youth and how they can use opportunities created by the world cup to start their own businesses.
The EDC also gives the UYF the opportunity to review the relevance of its programmes and engage other business sectors which may be of help to entrepreneurs. Kekana said young people at the conference expressed concerns about access to funding, property development and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). Because many young people did not have knowledge of UYF and its partners, the conference was a guideline on where to go, when and how to start a business.
Asked how the theme will translate into practical terms, Kekana said South Africa has a lot of potential for economic growth and if it is to occur young people will have to play an essential role. He said this year and leading up to 2010, UYF is seeking to identify young people with a dream that can be turned into a reality. Apart from funding, which is always a concern, EDC seeks to make available, knowledge, business tools, systems and processes to young entrepreneurs.
The sharing of ideas and information at conferences that various sectors can have an equal opportunity to engage with young people and find more on how they can best assist them start their businesses. Workshops on different subjects such as how to tender for a business successfully and matters of franchising were some of the outcomes and on-going programmes offered by young people. UYF was established in 2001 and to date has funded more than 50 000 entrepreneurs with 121 youth advisory centres across the country.
UYF's business consultancy services voucher programme is the first world electronic voucher programme that help fund entrepreneurs acquire business support.