In 2017, The Innovator Trust and Vodacom established the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP) to equip local youth with the requisite set of skills to become cutting-edge entrepreneurs. The selection process was rigorous and 10 Gauteng-based graduates were chosen to partake in the programme to receive business training from experienced facilitators and gain insight into business acumen.
The tailor-made programme aims to drive innovation and create job opportunities that could bring significant changes to the local economy. While the business ideas of the young entrepreneurs vary from media and marketing to furniture manufacturing and education, they share several similarities in the challenges they face.
Biggest challenges faced as a young entrepreneur
- Capital funding;
- Product pricing and research.
These are among the most common challenges facing young entrepreneurs today. YEP student, Ntokozo Ndukula, says that: “Starting out, you’re the only one and you have to do all the work. You might miss out on opportunities because you don’t have the funds to hire someone to help.”
Ntokozo, added that the biggest challenge he faces is deciding on what to charge the client. “It’s challenging as they may not agree with your pricing and you don’t want to be too expensive.”
Solutions to common challenges
By supporting YEP students with developing their business ideas, models, plans and other business development areas, facilitators are enabling graduates to increase their potential to grow their business and become successful entrepreneurs.
For Mpho Ramalepe, who is aiming to grow his business, the programme has highlighted the need for extensive research. Facilitators agree: “They encourage us to see what your competitors are charging for their services. Get to know the market, knock on doors and ask for mentorship opportunities,” says Mpho.
Except for the programme modules, the YEP students are given tools to equip themselves each month, it’s essential that participants receive support.
“It’s not easy to get funding for a business,” says Ndukula. “The stipends definitely helps to buy the necessary equipment.”
Words of wisdom
For young entrepreneurs thinking of starting their own business, the YEP students share some hard-earned advice.
“Always work hard and never give up,” says Ndukula. “There are moments where you feel like you just want to give up. Don’t be afraid to explore, or take chances, or even to fail. Keep persisting.”