Johannesburg - South African youth are not as enthusiastic
about entrepreneurship as their counterparts abroad and could be short-changing
themselves, an expert said on Tuesday.
Kobus Engelbrecht, of the Sanlam/Business Partners
Entrepreneur of the Year competition, said the 2011 Global Entrepreneurship
Monitor (GEM) SA report found that only a small number of young South Africans
Only 6.8% of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24
were entrepreneurs and 10.2% between 25 and 34.
"In comparison to other Brics [Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa) countries, members of Generation Y [those born between
1980 and 1995] in Brazil and China are approximately two to three times more
likely to be entrepreneurs when compared to South Africa," Engelbrecht
said in a statement.
He argues this lack of entrepreneurship is causing the
country to miss out on opportunities and cites entrepreneurship as a factor in
the economic growth of the United States.
Forty years ago, 90% of Americans were self-employed
entrepreneurs who ran their own companies.
"Today many of those companies are global leaders and
drivers of economic growth. It is hence of utmost importance that
entrepreneurship is encouraged amongst the youth in order to encourage
sustainable economic growth in the future," Engelbrecht said.
The GEM report said the US' youth unemployment rate, 48.2%,
was almost triple that of Brazil, at 17.8%.
"In poor economic conditions young people are generally
the first to lose their jobs and last to be hired," Engelbrecht said.
"With limited jobs available and a soaring youth
unemployment rate, one would expect the unemployed youth of South Africa to
seek alternative forms of employment."
However, this was not the case, as the GEM report said only
14.3% of South Africans were interested in starting their own business.
"The study indicated that South Africa has the fifth
lowest entrepreneurial intent amongst all efficiency-driven economies in the
world," Engelbrecht said.
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