Project promotes a culture of entrepreneurship
the Teacher reporter
According to the recent statistics, youths constitute the majority of the unemployed in South Africa at 54.5%. Curiously, most of them are college or university graduates. Observers blame this on the country’s education system, which they argue is not designed to produce graduates trained to create jobs. Instead, they contend, education institutions churn out thousands of graduates every year who look to the industry or government for employment. Sadly though, the argument goes, their skills set do not match what the country needs, rendering them unemployable.
To mitigate the situation, some private sector organisations have launched various initiatives aimed at producing a breed of young entrepreneurs. Although commercial subjects such as economic management and accounting — to mention but two — form part of the university curriculum, it is felt they fall short of promoting the culture of entrepreneurship required to create long-term, sustainable jobs.
Curro Holdings, a JSE-listed outfit that operates private schools across the country, is among several companies that launched a project to create a pool of innovative and creative business-savvy youths. It has introduced an Interschool Entrepreneurship Competition to “instil its learners with an understanding of business as well as spark a desire to start their own venture”.
Last month, as part of the competition, seven grade 11 finalists pitched their business plans before a panel of respected external judges in Kempton Park. The carefully handpicked judges boasted vast entrepreneurial knowledge and each was selected according to their specific industry experience ranging from property and publishing, to finance and SMMEs. After a tough session of impressive presentations, the project that received their unanimous nod was the Grassroots Ikhusi Project.
A brainchild of four Curro Aurora Independent School learners, the project is about creating sleeping bags made from recycled material that will be distributed to the homeless and poor as part of a local business’s corporate
social responsibility programme. According to Alta Greeff of Curro Holdings, the competition also seeks to inculcate a spirit of caring and giving back, and more importantly, “to look past the profit margin and strive to make one’s community stronger”.
Entrepreneurs, she said, most of whom run successful business empires in the country, [were] not “discovered overnight, but
[were] forged like diamonds over time”. Said Greeff: “It is therefore important to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit among the youth especially if one hopes to create the next generation of our country’s top business people.” The competition also aims to “spark [the youth’s] desire to start their own new venture”, she added.
A team of learners from Curro Mossel Bay in the Western Cape came second with Invest in Me, a digital concept to create a local crowdfunding site for South African business. The finals were preceded by preliminary regional rounds in September hosted in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Seven teams were shortlisted from across the country and a 164 learners from 19 different Curro schools took part in the competition.