As global youth unemployment continues to worsen in the face of the economic slowdown, young people across the world are wondering how in heaven’s name they are going to get out of this mess, and build a promising future.
Although economic realities depend from one country to another, there seems to be a way to go to counteract this social crisis: becoming an entrepreneur.
Johannesburg-based Christo Botes, an expert and spokesperson for the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, used the South African study case to contextualise this philosophy.
Although South Africa’s youth unemployment stands at 48%, recent research shows that few South African youths really want to become entrepreneurs.
Approximately 20% of South Africa’s youth population are potential entrepreneurs, and only 15% possess entrepreneurial intensions, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012.
However, Botes insists that the rising levels of youth unemployment can be effectively curbed through the promotion of entrepreneurship, which he describes as a ‘viable career’ choice for South Africa’s youth.
He said a committed change in South Africa’s public perception and culture was needed, as many youth are being driven to entrepreneurship through necessity, which he said was not necessarily appealing.
“Many of today’s youth view informal, survivalist businesses as undesirable, and therefore do not choose to possess entrepreneurial intensions and often find entrepreneurship undesirable,” Botes said.
By uplifting local entrepreneurial role models, communities will be able build a society that appreciates entrepreneurial activity, he said.
“Entrepreneurs which employ a handful of people are effectively assisting to combat the unemployment crisis and should therefore be celebrated.
“A method of instilling a system which celebrates entrepreneurial success could inspire the youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career.”
The manner in which a country supports and recognises its entrepreneurs determines the culture of entrepreneurship and ultimately moulds the future of the country’s economy, Botes said.
“A positive entrepreneurial culture is not something that can be simply put in place. It begins at the roots of society and needs to be carefully nurtured.