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Jobs, jobs, jobs: Solopreneurship could be the answer for unemployed youth

If we want more young people to go from being unemployed to entrepreneur, more work needs to be done to increase their confidence in their ability to execute their own plans. Picture: Supplied

If we want more young people to go from being unemployed to entrepreneur, more work needs to be done to increase their confidence in their ability to execute their own plans. Picture: Supplied

Published May 26, 2022

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Durban - With current youth unemployment at 65.5% in South Africa, it is clear most young people will not get a formal job.

Michelle Matthews, a director at Viridian, said, “Realistically, only a small proportion of them could potentially develop into high-growth entrepreneurs”.

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People who have practical skills, a flexible and opportunistic approach to making things work as well as the ability to bounce back from setbacks are far more effective. These individuals could become confident operating as a business of one – a solopreneur.

More people are managing themselves as small businesses and participating in the global economy, however, the regular Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reports relatively low entrepreneurial activity among South Africans.

“Decades of systematic disempowerment have likely led to a general erosion of self-efficacy. Young South Africans struggle to believe they can take control of their circumstances and influence the world around them,” Matthews said.

If we want more young people to go from being unemployed to entrepreneur, more work needs to be done to increase their confidence in their ability to execute their own plans.

Tips to foster entrepreneurship skills among young South Africans:

1. Safe spaces

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Create safe spaces within the education framework, entrepreneurial hubs, families, or community groups where young people can try out things and get feedback. Mentors can support these safe space by giving young people feedback and encouragement, and helping them draw lessons from what they are doing.

2. Provide skills and knowledge

We have to give young people skills so they feel more competent to give opportunities a try. Young people should be taught technical skills like writing code and self-management skills such as time and money management. Business skills like costing to make a profit or negotiating are all useful for the youth who are running their own careers.

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3. Encourage the creation of peer-to-peer support networks

Create platforms, spaces and events for young people and offer them incentives for connecting with like-minded peers. Young people who meet in productive places like entrepreneurial hubs tend to positively challenge and motivate each other. These connection could also lead to partnerships for securing contracts.

4. Sharing success stories

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The sharing stories of people who have turned their entrepreneurial venture into a success makes the route in entrepreneurship for young people both aspirational and attainable. Young people need to know somebody like them become successful and that they can do it too.

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