The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is establishing a Youth Directorate that will deal specifically with entrepreneurship issues affecting young businesspeople and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The directorate is an outcome of a youth economic empowerment strategy developed by the department. This was revealed by Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe in response to participants’ views during a youth economic empowerment seminar with the theme ‘Young Women’s Action for Economic Freedom in our Lifetime’. It was hosted jointly by the DTI, the Ugu district municipality and the Umzumbe local municipality, in KwaZulu-Natal.
The seminar’s objective was to give young female entrepreneurs from villages in the Ugu district’s six local municipalities an opportunity to speak to Thabethe about the challenges they encounter in establishing, growing or sustaining their businesses, as well as proposals on interventions that government should consider to assist them to overcome the barriers.
Participants recommended the development of women-specific programmes and services to promote women’s entrepreneurship, improve access to business development services, such as enterprise education, training, information and mentorship, as well as improve access to local, national and global markets, besides others.
The vision of the department’s Youth Directo- rate was a South Africa with a dynamic youth entrepreneurship culture and well-developed and successful youth-owned enterprises, Thabethe added.
A variety of programmes to support youth entrepreneurship programmes are in the pipeline, including entrepreneurship mentorship and coaching, business incubation, assistance with access to markets and business infrastructure support. She said these programmes and interventions specifically targeted young women and men as the department recognised the critical role young people could play in improving their lives and the lives of those around them by creating job opportunities.
Access to finance and markets, formalisation of businesses, lack of business skills, nonfinancial support and access to information were some of the constraints identified by young businesswomen as greatly inhibiting their attempts to participate meaningfully in the country’s economic activities.