As the world commemorated International Youth Day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa, Raizcorp and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) recognized the efforts of eight entrepreneurs who participated in a Youth Challenge Fund initiative launched by the country office in February of this year. The Youth Challenge Fund is part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Action Hub (YEAH) programme which contributes towards the achievement of the objectives of the Youth Enterprise Development Strategy. “We want to encourage innovation and support entrepreneurs with enterprising ideas that generate employment. At the center of our approach is to give young people the freedom to design and develop solutions to their problems on a small-scale with the view of scaling the efforts for larger impact” said Dr Odusola during his keynote address at the award ceremony.
Aimed at youth entrepreneurs, the pre-incubation programme is implemented through Raizcorp and assists those whose business idea is already conceived and formulated but needs to be presented in a way potential funders and investors can understand and support. At the end of the three-month programme, entrepreneurs are expected to pitch for their share of the Challenge Fund; which will help improve the service offer of their business. As a result, UNDP handed out cheques worth over R966,000 to the entrepreneurs. The businesses supported through this initiative include e-waste management, IT, production of biodiesel, installation of wi-fi in townships, personal financing platforms; easy-to-use Apps and innovation for persons with disabilities. “Entrepreneurship is like playing a game of snakes and ladders and your ability to get up again and again irrespective of difficulties such as COVID-19 is what makes you a success. This ability is what we refer to as the blue heart at Raizcorp” said Allon Raiz, CEO of Raizcorp during his address at the ceremony.
In addition to the cheques handed out, entrepreneurs were awarded with the blue heart award which went to Odwa Ndyaluvane of Development Hub, recognizing his resilience and drive, and Thabo Mokgotho of Kasi Wifi Connect collected both the spirit of Raizcorp and best entrepreneur awards recognizing empathy and exceptional hard work.
“Pitching our businesses was a huge challenge to us and that is the biggest learning that we take from this programme. We connected well as a team and felt the welcome of the team leading the programme. We have learnt a lot and look forward to the future from which we shall benefit” said Thuli Hlongwane of Prim-U, during her entrepreneurs’ reflections during the ceremony,
The award ceremony coincided with the United Nations International Youth Day which aims to draw attention to issues affecting young people globally including increasing poverty, inequality and unemployment.
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