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Doing good business with the youth

Oct 13 2015 17:13

Cape Town - Indira Tsengiwe is the founder of Youngpreneur Media. She wrote to Fin24 to say that after reading a recent World Economic Freedom she was inspired to share her thoughts. She writes:

It is exciting to live on a continent with the potential and appetite for economic freedom. Gone are the days where “entrepreneurship” was nothing more than an elaborate French term to describe a street vendor. It is understood as, and celebrated for, the freedoms that it affords – even to the one who would under normal circumstances, not be able to dream of providing food on the table, let alone jobs.
 
At the epicentre of this dynamic energy are the youth of the continent. The 18 year old Ugandan self-starter is not an alien idea to the 25 year old Egyptian tech enthusiast. A perfect picture you might call it.

The common feature that connects them lies not within their youth, neither in their entrepreneurial pursuits, but rather in the political history of the economies: the failure of their governments to create a system of opportunity has forced them to put matters into their own hands. Becoming financially independent, even at a youthful age, is an absolute necessity on the youthful continent.

What is scary, however, is that in the African ideal - home of opportunity - South Africa, where the environment beckons the call of entrepreneurship we see a slipping away of economic freedoms. This is beyond the complexities of politics, legislation and economics (although it is founded by them), but boils down to something as simple and practical as doing good business with the youth.
 
Youth in South Africa (15 to 34 years old) comprises 55% of the working-age population. With the burgeoning scene of youth enterprises, more young South Africans are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. It is the reason why incubators exist. But what is hindering business growth amongst youth enterprises is the very term, or rather, its association with charity.
 
In South Africa, doing business with the youth can mean “giving back". This places new challenges on a start-up. Business (private or public) scrutinises invoices as if to expect a discount from the industry average, while owners are constantly taken advantage of in relation to all things legal. This includes (but is not limited to) a delay in payment and intellectual property theft, in the hopes that young entrepreneurs cannot afford legal services.
 
How does South Africa plan to grow as an economy if it refuses to acknowledge the value of services from its youth? Nigeria is Nigeria because it does business with everyone. I believe that once we begin to seriously consider doing business with all relevant participants in the economy, then we can begin earnestly building the economy of what has the potential to be Africa’s leading state again.

South Africa has the infrastructure, environment and ideas to truly innovate. It has better political structures and processes than many other countries: Our constitution alone is the “yellow brick road” to breed equal opportunity for economic freedom. What is, however, lacking, but has the potential to be changed, is the willingness to treat young entrepreneurs like all other entrepreneurs, and all other professionals.

Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. 24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

africa  |  entrepreneurs  |  youth  |  myfin24  |  small business
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