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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More