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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid