Open businesses, open doors

NABEELAH MOHEDEEN

A non-profit organisation, which shows young people how to be their own bosses and survive the prophets of doom who tell them they have no hope of earning a living after leaving matric, launched an entrepreneurial programme at Spes Bona High School in Athlone last week.

The South African Teen Entrepreneur Foundation came up with the SA Teen Entrepreneur Programme as a way to nurture entrepreneurial skills in high schools.

The programmes are presented in the form of seminars, workshops, conferences and exhibitions at various high schools in the Western Cape. High school pupils are the core audience, but the programme is also available to universities, churches, community groups and youth centres.

Janap Arendse teaches Grades 11 and 12 business studies and Grades 8 and 9 economics and management sciences at Spes Bona, and she’s excited about the programme. “It is a good opportunity for the pupils to develop their creative skills. It will give them a chance to contribute solutions to the problems in their communities. The pupils are very excited about the programme”

Programme director Lydia Zingoni said the objective was to teach high school pupils how to start businesses – a valuable skill in a country where, with an unemployment rate of 24.9 percent, employers aren’t exactly lining up at the school gates to hand out jobs.

“The SA Teen Entrepreneur Programme aims to instil a culture of enterprise development among our youth, and will equip participating pupils with the necessary knowledge and skills to start up and manage successful and sustainable businesses into the future,” said Ms Zingoni.

So far, the programme has launched entrepreneur and debating societies at eight schools in the province, forming part of their extra-mural activities.

“Pupils will not only be exposed to the theory of entrepreneurship,” said Ms Zingoni. “The structure of the programme allows for robust debate in a group environment which results in an exchange of ideas that are profitable, and which can practically be implemented to solve a challenge at their school or in their communities.”

Xavier Jaftha, a Grade 9 Spes Bona pupil, said: “This is a good opportunity for youngsters to become entrepreneurs of the country. It will allow us to help the economic growth of our country.

“Most of the children in the group have nothing to do with their spare time so this will help to keep us busy and out of trouble. It will help us to help other youth and to see problems not as problems but as opportunities for create solutions.”

The foundation hopes to expand the programme to at least 100 schools in each province by 2017.

The programme is sponsored by a large national retailer and a German software company.

“We are breaking new ground in raising awareness that small business is a driving force for economic growth and job creation among our future business leaders and commercial pioneers of tomorrow,” said Ms Zingoni.