Neville Matjie, CEO at Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal Picture: SIYA MEYIWA
DURBAN -  High hopes are being placed on the Youth Indaba in future boosting entrepreneurship in the region.

Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal (TIKZN)  recently held the inaugural Youth Indaba that was intended to link up entrepreneurial youth with financial institutions and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). 

TIKZN chief executive Neville Matjie said considering the projects they had in their pipeline, youth participation was only at  between 35percent  to 40 percent.

“There are only three projects that are wholly owned by the youth. That low number in fully youth-owned projects means that we need to engage the youth and expose them to the opportunities that we have packaged for them and get them to participate,” said Matjie.  

There was apathy from youth in being entrepreneurial due to the fact that while youth was being acknowledged, they were not being consulted, he said 

They hoped the  Youth Indaba would solve this problem, he said,

TIKZN offered capacity building training to entrepreneurs in the international trade space. 

“The first training is related to the 'Language of International Trade'. If you want to trade what do you need to know, we give the beginners guide to exporting. The next phase is called the' Masterclass', which is intended to refine the entrepreneurs knowledge on export trade. Once seasoned, they are moved to the next level of Mentorship where they are hand-held by a global player. These are run at two levels by the Netherlands and German government acting as mentors,” said Matjie.  

Matjie said TIKZN was  currently verifying project proposals from youth that had approached the agency and once they had qualified those leads the agency would facilitate the proposals. 

"Where they need investors, we will take them abroad and showcase them to potential investors, and handhold them until their projects are realised.”

Matjie said the general challenge they experienced was that entrepreneurs expected the agency to do everything for them. “Everyone who wants to go into business must put in the time, effort and energy to realise their dream. We will support them by responding by how they respond to their projects.”  

The second challenge the agency faced was youth "wanting to do anything and everything under the sky". 

“We encourage them to do one thing and at most two. They should put their energy on that project and see it right to the end. The fill project life cycle is between three to fiveyears. So putting your energy into three or four projects demands multiplied efforts.” 

TIKZN also encourages the youth that has conceptualised project ideas. they would would like them to be incubated and then taken further through the value chain. 

Meanwhile, TIKZN said some of commitments from last year’s Investment Summit, were being realised. 

"Within the next few months we will see one of those new opportunities that found a home in the Dube TradePort,” said Matjie.  

Mara Group has signed a lease agreement and are proceeding with its plans to invest R1.5 billion into Africa’s first fully-fledged smartphone factory.  

The ‘Maraphone’ factories are to open at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone

Matjie said from the time there was the commitment till now, they have realised a project worth more than R1 billion in a few months.

BUSINESS REPORT