President Cyril Ramaphosa has applauded South Africa’s entrepreneurial youth for using the Covid-19 pandemic to create good business ideas and he is calling on more young South Africans, particularly in townships, to take advantage of economic opportunities during this time.
In his weekly address to the nation, President Ramaphosa said he was pleased at the combination of foresight, creativity and business acumen displayed by a number of young South Africans and said it was encouraging that small businesses were creating home-grown solutions to the current challenges.
“It is our duty as government, business and society as a whole to lend our full support to them on their journey towards self-sufficiency and financial sustainability – both to protect the jobs we have and to replace those we have lost. At the same time, this is a rallying cry to other young people out there to take the great leap of faith into self-employment. The best businesses come from good ideas that respond to a community need,” said Ramaphosa.
He said while conditions may not be ideal, it was a good time to jump into entrepreneurship, and assured that government would give its support.
Government committed, in February, to provide finance to 1 000 youth-owned businesses and will reach this target by August 12, Ramaphosa says, despite delays caused by the national lockdown.
Government has also provided loans, grants and debt restructuring for small, medium-sized and microenterprises, while the Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme has, so far, paid out R26-million to more than 6-million workers.
Ramaphosa added that the R200-billion loan guarantee scheme is being adjusted to make it easier for applicants to receive funding quickly.
TOWNSHIP & RURAL ECONOMY
As part of government’s reconstruction effort, the township and rural economy will feature prominently.
Government plans to launch the Township Entrepreneurship Fund, which will support businesses with skills development and market and infrastructure access.
Ramaphosa said investment in small businesses would be South Africa’s growth path to stimulate the economy and create more opportunities.
“Whether it is a vendor selling their wares at a taxi rank, a small Internet cafe providing vital services like connectivity and printing, or home industries and mobile wagons selling food, these businesses are a lifeline to both urban and rural communities. They are a means of livelihood for their owners and more often than not employ others from the same community,” he said.
Access to high-speed Internet and new technologies will link small businesses to demand, he added, and said this also called for backing areas of opportunity in early childhood development, the food economy and the green economy.
Ramaphosa said the country’s economic recovery could not wait until the pandemic had passed.