News / Africa

Entrepreneurship Seen as Solution to S. Africa’s Unemployment Crisis

FILE - Youths stand outside a makeshift shop near murals of former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
FILE - Youths stand outside a makeshift shop near murals of former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
— Unemployment remains stubbornly high in South Africa and is one of the greatest socio-economic problems currently facing the country’s youth.

Many are turning to entrepreneurship to make ends meet. But some have found it easier than others.

Job-creation was a leading goal of government policy during the first decade of democracy in South Africa following the end of apartheid in 1994. However, little success has been achieved in the struggle to create sufficient jobs.

South Africa’s unemployment rate stands at 25.2 percent, creeping up by 1.1 percent from last year. There are now more than five million people without work. However, the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who have stopped looking for work, is at 35.1 percent.

'I can't wait'

Twenty-four year old Sibusiso Ngcobr said he can no longer wait for the government to create a job for him.

“It is hard to find a job. You cannot sit because your brains would blast out of your mind, you cannot sit and do nothing," he said. "I can’t wait. I have to eat, I have brothers to support, I have a family to feed.”

He, and other South Africans like him, are finding ways to create their own opportunities.   

Ngcobr started up his own retail company in the Orlando West area of Johannesburg last year.

But he complains that the government’s attempts to help small-business owners like him, with a basic education, are bound in red tape and bureaucracy.

"Coming from a previously disadvantaged background, you don't have security, your house is just a small house, then you go to the bank - you have a great brilliant idea, they say they want surety they want collateral - what do you have? You have nothing," Ngcobr  said. "You can’t say, I have my high school diploma here - you can’t say that. You have to begin from grassroots.”

Beginning from grassroots is exactly what Ludwick Marishane did.

Marishane started businesses as a teenager in rural Limpopo, a northern province in South Africa with stark levels of poverty.

The waterless shower

Some of his ideas failed, but Marishane's life-changing engineering inspiration came during a lazy day of sunbathing.

His friend did not want to take a bath and wondered why no one had invented a product to substitute for showering. A few years later Marishane had created the Dry Bath Gel, a waterless shower alternative that could save time for some, but also help those with no access to water.

“I scraped together whatever resources I had available. I didn’t have computers or resources like that so I would have to use the local computer café, where it cost about $2 an hour to use the Internet. My allowance was $5 - that was my pocket money and lunch money,” Marishane said.

Drafting an 8,000-word business plan on a simple phone in his last year of high school, Marishane sent it to 80 venture capitalists.

But none were willing to take a risk on a young inventor with a product that they considered mostly helped the poor, he said.

“I looked at different sources. The different banking loans and the different development loans that government had made available in South Africa for small businesses and I was unsuccessful - part of it was the red tape and the amount of bureaucracy involved in trying to access those types of funds and at the same time my business - it wasn’t a bankable idea," Marishane said.

Entering the product into competitions, he slowly gained some capital to develop his business.

Marishane is now the youngest patent holder in South Africa. The company claims to have provided 445,590 baths, saving over 35.6 million liters of water, crucial for a country facing a water crisis.

Marishane cites education as one of the biggest advantages in starting a business.

Education is key

That is a sentiment echoed by Jason Basel, founder and president of Àkro Organization, which aims to bring young entrepreneurs together and equip them with practical, action-orientated knowledge to help kick-start their businesses.

“Entrepreneurship and education - that’s how you solve unemployment. Full stop, there are no two ways about it,” Basel said.

He also said that the lack of practical business education is hindering people from realizing their potential business ideas.

While there is plenty of business potential among South Africa’s youth, the country lacks the services to enable its young entrepreneurs.

What Marishane and others have shown is that you can overcome the odds with one great idea.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid