Senior Private and Public sector stakeholders, and young entrepreneurs from across South Africa gathered at a glittering celebration of the 2018 Step Up 2 A Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards, held last night at the Southern Sun Arcadia in Pretoria. The Awards evening was the culmination of a five-month entrepreneurship development programme and competition targeted at 12,000 secondary school learners and made possible by key sponsors Standard Bank, Sasol, the MTN Foundation, Tsogo Sun with the support of SEDA and the Department of Small Business Development.
Following the recent announcement of the increase in South Africa’s unemployment rate, society, big business and government are faced with a threatening crisis. Considering the country’s contrasting resource endowment and high unemployed workforce population, economic growth has become the buzz term to address this increasing national emergency.
As a part of the continent with the highest population of young people on the planet, South Africa must have a viable and sustainable solution to propel youth into job creation as opposed to adopting a job seeking mindset. Now in its 5th successful year, Step Up 2 A Start Up, a leading national youth entrepreneurship initiative run by Primestars, has been identified as one such solution.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, technology-based businesses will provide solutions to many of these problems, creating unprecedented opportunities on which the youth can capitalise. As such, the theme selected for the 2018 Step Up 2 A Start Up programme was “Think Tech. Do Business.”, and encouraged learners to embrace technology as a platform for small business creation.
The journey into the world of tech entrepreneurship
Grade 9-11 learners began their journey into tech entrepreneurship, through the Step Up 2 A Start Up programme, at Ster Kinekor cinemas nationwide in August. This year, the programme was activated through national screenings of the film titled, Ikusasa Lethu (Our Future), a story of a young lady who discovers technology, creates a business, adapts her business as she learns what works and, as a result, changes her future and the future of her community.
“Our Step Up 2 A Start Up programme teaches vital lessons in entrepreneurship to thousands of South African learners through edutainment. Each year the programme focuses on global trends in entrepreneurship, seeking to inspire participants to explore these in the context of their surroundings – looking for business solutions to real problems in their communities,” said Martin Sweet, Managing Director, Primestars.
At the cinema, learners received a toolkit which reinforced the lessons communicated throughout the movie. The toolkit assists learners in implementing the skills learned to develop their own business ideas and model canvasses and enter the Step Up 2 A Start Up Tech Entrepreneurship Competition.
With input from industry leaders and experts, the top nine entrepreneurial teams in South Africa that demonstrated the most innovative tech-enabled business models were identified to take up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The teams were then brought to Johannesburg for an intensive four-day Entrepreneurship Boot Camp which lead up to the teams presenting their business models to judges in hopes of winning some of the amazing prizes up for grabs and, of course, officially becoming the 2018 Step Up Young Entrepreneurs of the Year.
The top three winning teams for 2018 announced on the night were:
FIND MY KGONTSHE (Charlotte Maxeke Secondary School, Gauteng)
Accommodation booking app for the lower income market
Nobuhle Motlounu – Grade 9
Babongile Maqutha – Grade 9
ON THE GO (Sir Pierre van Ryneveld School, Gauteng)
App for booking hospital appointments and avoiding queues
Tshegofatso Mathabe – Grade 11
Anele Mahasela – Grade 11
Tsholofelo Moetji – Grade 11
M & C (Secunda High School – Mpumalanga)
App connecting companies/people looking to donate resources with deserving charities
Mmamokgele Mphokane – Grade 11
Caitlin Murray – Grade 11
All finalists were awarded prizes valued at over R2.5 million, comprised of bursaries, business incubation, cash and gadgets, amongst others. The ceremony also included the awarding of the 2018 Step Up Trailblazer of the Year – Mr Jacko Maree, who is a game changer, an entrepreneur of note, an innovator, a deep thinker and a passionate South African. Furthermore, Primestars recognised Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi with the Spirit of Service Award for his selfless commitment to sustaining youth education programmes.
“Primestars believes that given the right assistance from passionate individuals and organisations, our youth will be able to create and develop new businesses which, in turn, will have a positive impact on the economy and reduce the rate of youth unemployment in South Africa. We need to help our young people realise that there are infinite possibilities available to them. We would like to wish all the winning teams the best of luck in their journey to becoming successful entrepreneurs,” concluded Sweet.