The #YouthStartCT Top 100 finalists at a ceremony in the Civic Centre this week. Photo: CoCT
Cape Town – The youth want opportunities to prove themselves and help uplift themselves, their families, and their communities and do not want handouts, says City of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille. 

"As part of our organisational development and transformation plan our youth development strategy has always been transversal in nature. Across our directorates we have multiple programmes which serve to capacitate the youth," she told the #YouthStartCT top 100 finalists ceremony in the Civic Centre this week. 

These ranged from youth at risk programmes, learnerships and apprenticeships to internships. In the city's proposed 2017/18 budget, funds had been set aside within the corporate services directorate to the value of R5.5-million for external bursaries; R6.7-million for learnerships; and R9.9-million for apprenticeships, De Lille said. 

The city's approach to youth development was multifaceted, taking into account the many problems facing the youth. These included projects focusing on providing life skills to young people, providing work and employment readiness skills to young people, building the capacity and of youth formations, and raising awareness on topical issues that affected the youth. #YouthStart was an additional programme put in place to help stimulate entrepreneurship among young people. 

"We know that the youth want opportunities to prove themselves and help uplift themselves, their families, and their communities. They do not want handouts. So we found a way to give their creative business ideas a platform. We also wanted to help them to help other young people ridding themselves from the shackles of unemployment and hopelessness," De Lille said. 

This entrepreneurial challenge was officially launched on Monday, March 6. Young people between the ages of 18 and 35 were encouraged to submit their existing businesses which currently created employment opportunities for youth, or a business idea which planned to include employment opportunities for young people. 

The competition was an accelerator programme for start-up entrepreneurs and the overarching aim was to contribute to skills development, innovation, and the development of entrepreneurship in the city. "This is not something that we, as government, can do alone. We are grateful to our partners from the private sector and institutions that are assisting us to change the odds and transform the lives of young people in Cape Town," she said. The top 100 finalists would all receive business and entrepreneurial training. 

ABSA was offering access to their "ready to work" programme to all top 100 youth as well as business development support training over five days. The Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) had offered support to all of the youths who entered the competition and made it to the top 100. 

Appointments would be set up to meet them. The Seda would provide customised non-financial services in line with its mandate to the selected youth entrepreneurs on, among others, business diagnosis analysis, management system implementation, joint venture and business-to-business facilitation, facilitate registration of new business entities, co-operative facilitation, drafting business plans, facilitate access to finance mentorship, franchising, and export development and promotion programmes. 

ABSA would include the top 10 in their financial literacy programme and would also donate computer notebooks to the 10 finalists. To the top three winners, ABSA was offering bespoke entrepreneurship training and seed capital to the value of about R65 000 to kick-start their business idea. The top three winners would also be given targeted business support from Seda and Seda would pay 90 percent of what the business advisors and the entrepreneurs agreed on to pursue in terms of their respective projects. 

"Our tertiary institutions have been bold in their contributions as well. The University of the Western Cape will provide two places for winners in the top 10 in UWC’s eTools Kit for Entrepreneurs accredited training programme. Through the University of Cape Town’s MTN solution space in Philippi Village, they will provide four ‘hot desk + internet’ prizes to run for a period of six months. 

"The Raymond Ackerman Academy, also associated with UCT, is making three spots available in their July 2017 class for idea stage entrants in #YouthStartCT. This is valued at approximately R100 000," De Lille said. 

For the top five businesses, False Bay College would provide structured GrowthWheel Assessment by certified GrowthWheel advisors; innovative and practical learning programme to accelerate the growth of their businesses; access to physical incubation which included the use of machinery and equipment and technical support for wood and engineering businesses; access to their innovation hub which included boardroom facilities, internet, and workspace/office desk space; allocation of a seasoned and experienced mentor for six months; and assistance to market linkages based on the product or service development. The value of this prize was estimated at R50,000 per beneficiary amounting to a total of R250 000.

"We are extremely proud of these partners for stepping up to the plate and assisting the youth through this corporate social investment. And we call it an investment because when we give to the youth it is society at large that benefits. It is the key to unlocking the potential within them, allowing them to become citizens who can contribute to the greater good," De Lille said.

African News Agency