Incubating jobs for South African youth

13 November 2013

The Department of Trade and Industry opened a new ICT business incubator in Johannesburg on Monday as part of a “bold, imaginative and effective” government strategy to put South Africa’s young people to work and pull them into the economy.

The Micro Enterprise Development Organisation (MEDO) Youth ICT Incubator was officially launched in the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, along with the government’s Youth Enterprise Development Strategy.

Speaking at the launch, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said “a package of measures” was needed to tackle unemployment, which is estimated to be around 25% of the economically active population between the ages of 15 and 60.

He said about one-third of businesses in South Africa were owned by people aged 35 or under, with about two-thirds of young entrepreneurs being self-taught.

Davies said that through the Youth Enterprise Development Strategy his department hoped to increase the percentage of youth-managed start-up businesses in South Africa from 5% to 50%.

A youth entrepreneurship collateral fund is to be established to provide a non-refundable one-off grant to enable young entrepreneurs to start a business.

“We are trying to bring a major change in how business is being done in South Africa,” Davies said. “We want to create an environment where local small suppliers can be so well capacitated that they would be able to supply our private sector, doing away with their dependence on imported goods.

“The ultimate goal is to see our entrepreneurs producing value-added products that would compete with the import influx.”

The incubator is one of 30 supported by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Incubation Support Programme, which aims to encourage the growth of youth enterprises and provide the required skills to entrepreneurs.

According to a report in The Times, 10 entrepreneurs from the ICT industry are housed at the facility, with another 180 being assisted by it. Along with a studio that produces internet advertising, there is an IT help desk as well as bookkeeping and legal services and human resources management.

Another incubator will be opened in Mpumpalanga province’s mining district early next year, with a further 18 to be established across the country, Judi Sandrock, MEDO’s chief executive, said.

Department of Trade and Industry and SAinfo reporter