Youth entrepreneurs in KZN are set to benefit from government funding of R50 million to set up businesses. Premier of KZN, Sihle Zikalala, announced this funding opportunity aptly during youth month at a media briefing on Sunday 6 June 2021.

“As part of Youth Month, we are taking this opportunity to announce that as the Government of KwaZulu-Natal, we are rolling out the second phase of the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Fund. For this purpose, we have set aside an amount to the tune of R50 million,” said Zikalala

The Youth Development Fund was set up to help fund talented youth entrepreneurs set up businesses and curb unemployment. Beneficiaries of the fund generally don’t qualify for regular funding opportunities that other businesses benefit from.

Youth unemployment is an issue that has concerned many role-players over the years. Youth converting their entrepreneurial ideas into viable businesses was one recommendation made to circumvent unemployment.

He said the funds would have a positive impact on youth entrepreneurship in the province. Zikalala urged the youth to take advantage of this opportunity and forward their business proposals to the relevant structures when further details are provided in the coming weeks.

YOUTH BUSINESS: FUNDING TO GENERATE AN INCOME FOR THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE

Latest stats by Statistics SA indicates that 63,3% of the 20.4 million youth – aged 15-34 years – was unemployed in the first quarter of 2020 in South Africa. Youth within the 15–24-year age group were considered “most vulnerable” with an unemployment rate of 59%.

CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Commerce, Melanie Vanness, said with the youth unemployment level and current state of the economy, there was a need to stimulate entrepreneurship amongst the youth.

“Grants alone, however, will not lead to the establishment of sustainable businesses. This requires a solid business plan, knowledge, a broad base of skills acquired via training or experience, business support from an established network and mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs,” said Vanness.

Vanness believes that for youth to become successful business-owners through government funding, partnerships with the private sector, must be factored into the equation.

Zikalala announced that another significant achievement for KZN during youth month was that commemoration festivities for Youth Day, on 16 June, will be held in Pietermaritzburg.

“This is a day of profound socio-political significance, as it reminds us of the long and painful journey that we have travelled as a country, and as a people.  It also gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we are, and where we need to go, in pursuit of true and complete emancipation – especially for the young people who are the future of our country,” added Zikalala.

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Presh JM Reporter

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