The City of Cape Town’s Social Services Directorate is once again giving young people an opportunity to realise their entrepreneurial potential, with its #YouthStart Challenge.
The competition is open to South African citizens aged 18 – 35 who reside in Cape Town and have existing businesses or start-up ideas that have the potential to create sustainable job opportunities or are already creating jobs. This year the competition will also include a digital solutions category to cater for entrepreneurs dabbling in technology.
‘The rationale behind the competition is quite simple. Unemployment, poverty and inequality are some of the biggest challenges in South Africa and young people in particular are bearing the brunt. Entrepreneurship has been identified as one of the ways to tackle it. So, in the spirit of making Cape Town an opportunity city for all, we’re providing an opportunity to access resources and skills that will help young people to develop their business ideas and provide services and products to consumers, while at the same time growing the economy and aiding job creation efforts,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
#YouthStartCT was born from research around the challenges young entrepreneurs face, including:
- Access to capital, equipment/tools and space (many work from home)
- Lack of experience and mentorship/guidance
- Lack of confidence and contacts to promote their business
The competition is an accelerator programme for start-up entrepreneurs and supports youth capacity development and job creation. It provides a further benefit by offering support to the entrepreneurs in commercialising, expanding and monetising their solutions/businesses. The level of support will vary, but will be focused on developing both the entrepreneur and the idea through a robust training and mentorship programme.
To be considered for #YouthStartCT, entrepreneurs will be required to complete an online application form and upload a short video to pitch their proposal and why they think it has the potential to succeed. The top 100 entries will be offered 10 weeks of after-hours mentoring and training to help them assess whether there is a place in the market for their products and services, after which 20 finalists will be selected for the play-offs. This group will be offered further mentoring and then 10 will be selected at a hackathon to participate in a ‘demo day’. During June 2017, the top three will be announced at a gala event. Various prizes as well as business support will be on offer, including access to a network of partners that will provide the winners with business support and mentoring.
‘A successful business needs more than just a capital injection. Development through training and mentoring is crucial for anyone starting out. Having access to those who have gone before and using their experience as a sounding board or cautionary tale is priceless. It is for this reason that we are putting so much emphasis on mentoring opportunities for the entrants. This competition is like an internship of sorts that can provide invaluable experience and set our young entrepreneurs apart. So I urge them to enter and blow us away with their ideas. We had some very interesting ideas last year and I for one am very excited to see what the class of 2017 comes up with,’ added Alderman Smith.
Entries can be submitted via the following link: www.capetown.gov.za/youthstart