The limited voice of young entrepreneurs in South Africa is a key theme that has emerged from research conducted by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs in the context of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention (PYEI) and is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
This is a critical insight in that it clearly demonstrates that young people do not have a mandated body to represent challenges and interests. This supports other findings that indicate that entrepreneur support organisations (ESOs) are disconnected from young entrepreneurs as target beneficiaries; often offering irrelevant programmes that do not properly understand the real challenges and lived complexity of young entrepreneurs in South Africa, more especially those living in townships.
Discussions initiated through ANDE’s Learning Labs, presented an opportunity for different ecosystem actors to collectively discuss and build on draft recommendations formulated through the research to date, and share insights & key information to support potential solutions at this stage.
The ultimate goals for the Learning Labs were:
✔To support an increased collective understanding of how-to better support youth entrepreneurs in townships
✔To discuss informed solutions on how to increase market access for youth entrepreneurs within the township economies
✔To create a platform for engagement of solutions and sharing of best practices that will result in targeted actions of support
✔ To share resources that can be used to develop different programmes across the stakeholder groups that would increase their support to youth entrepreneurs.
In the third and final learning lab themed “Strengthening South Africa’s Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem” the Youth Development Collaboration Lab (YD Co-lab) launched their latest report on Youth Development Organisations (YDOs) and the support that they offer.
One of the key highlights from the report is the importance of collaboration among organizations that serve youth. The report found that there is often a lack of communication and coordination between different groups, which can lead to gaps in services and resources. By working together, organizations can better identify the needs of youth and provide more comprehensive support.
Another important finding from the research is the need for impact-focus program design. This means addressing not only academic and career goals, but also the social and emotional well-being of youth. The report emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs to build relationships, develop leadership skills, and engage in meaningful activities.
Overall, the Youth Development Ecosystem Mapping project report provides valuable insights into how we can better support the youth in our communities. By working together, taking a holistic approach, being culturally responsive, and using data to inform our decisions, we can create a more supportive and inclusive environment for youth to thrive. As ecosystem members, it is our responsibility to use this information to inform our policies and investments in youth development.