By: Tebogo Mokwena
National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) CEO Waseem Carrim has called on the country to adopt a different outlook on entrepreneurship to encourage young people to enter the entrepreneurial space. He has warned that the current view on entrepreneurship was restrictive and did not encourage the youth to opt for entrepreneurship.
Carrim was speaking at the National Presidential SMMEs and Cooperatives Summit in Johannesburg this week. It formed part of the Annual Global Entrepreneurship Week and featured panel discussions involving the state and the private sector to discuss collaborations and efforts that were in line with the National Integrated Small Enterprise Development Masterplan (NISED). According to Carrim, there must be a greater urge to encourage young people to start businesses.
“Part of the problem is that when we say to young people to become entrepreneurs, we do so as if entrepreneurship is a fallback on not being able to find a job,” he said. “The message we sell to young people is that if they want to be entrepreneurs, they have to be like Elon Musk.” Carrim said that the consequence of this approach was that it created a strong divide between the youth and entrepreneurship.
“(In this regard) we make entrepreneurship to be this thing that is far away from young people,” he said during a panel discussion. “In reality, every business was started with one person having an idea.” Carrim also said that entrepreneurship amongst the youth was not only hampered by access to capital. He said there was a need to see employment and entrepreneurship as complementary instead of two separate entities.
“The challenge is developing the skills and mindsets to get young people started in entrepreneurship and allowing them to succeed,” Carrim said. “While there is no silver bullet for unemployment, we also need to start looking at employment and entrepreneurship programmes as not necessarily being separate from one another. “There are other spaces where we can encourage existing entrepreneurship because it means that we can increase the intake in employment programmes.”
Carrim also said that assisting young people who already had businesses in overcoming compliance and accreditation hurdles, could assist them in scaling their businesses. “A huge gap we have seen in the (entrepreneurial space) is the issue of accreditation and compliance,” he said. “What we introduced as the NYDA with the South African Bureau of Standards is the compliance and accreditation voucher because we realised that people are being held back by compliance and accreditation costs.” Entrepreneurship and innovation have been identified as key to addressing the country’s youth unemployment.