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Entrepreneurship:SA youth doing it for themselves

Jun 15 2016 06:30
*Indira Tsengiwe

Cape Town - South Africa's youth are active. Even though (increasingly) more is being done to harness and cultivate the burgeoning entrepreneurial potentials of this demographic, it is evident, by the constant opening up of business doors, that the country's youth are stepping up to resolve the socio-economic issues of this time. It is barely a new thing to discover the inventiveness of a 15-year-old school boy or girl.

What's more is that young people are finding themselves in pivotal rooms of conversation, to be heard. We no longer live by the notion that "a child is to be seen" - only! The world; the continent; South Africa is coming to embrace the opinions and ideas of the youth that fan the flames of economic development. It is a first time in a long time that we feel included in the argument, and not considered as an afterthought to show face on world development stages. So we celebrate!

I thought to shine the spotlight on a few young visionaries who keep tongues wagging in the central streets of Cape Town's CBD. The journey of youth month has progressed from overcoming the inhumanity of our past to exulting the potentials of our future. Young people, everywhere, are increasingly becoming bold - daring to believe in their ideas, and in the idea that there is a place for them. We have finally started to build this economy - by taking advantage of one of its key resources - it's youth.

Inside & You're Out Burgers

This is a burger bar that is somewhat an enigma to me. I have never tasted their food, because I have always stood last in a snaked queue leading downstairs from their upstairs based quaint burger joint in Cape Town's Bree Street. They offer "ethical eating" in the form of gourmet food. The growing business started by two flat mates is impressive - truly capturing the primary purpose in which youth entrepreneurship is to serve: young people employing young people.

On the opposite side of the "employing scale", sitting with one permanent employee (herself) is Terry Mullins of Glitterati Vintage Clothing & Accessories. She is the owner of an antiques store buried in the archives of Long Street's Antique Arcade. It is a gem in the city. Birthed out of the romance of a vintage fairy tale for young women, the store is proof of the conducive nature of the market.

"There are so many opportunities for me as a young person," notes Mullins. The ability to economise on a passion indicates that the market is willing and able to try new things.

Pushing the boundaries of innovation, down the lower ends of Loop Street is Yoco, the payment solution founded by a team of young men. Employing tens of young people, Yoco is one of the fastest growing tech based companies in the centre of Cape Town. With services that include an offensive customer care strategy (they call you before you call them, as their system picks up a fault or error in your transactions) Yoco's payment solutions are seen everywhere on the countertops of small business shops.

One of its users is The Velvetcake Co. This Loop Street based bakery is every child's dream wonderland. Founded by two sisters Jandri and Carla van Zyl the company has expanded since its inception in the kitchens of Cape Town's Northern Suburbs, to becoming one of the most talked about enterprises in the city.

So there we have it - progress. From food to technology, young people are grabbing South African opportunities by the horns, and turning them into enterprises of success.

* Indira Tsengiwe is the founder of YoungPreneur Media, a production brand and media network that creates content for and about young entrepreneurs across the continent through television and digital media. She is also a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.   

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