The world is full of successful entrepreneurs – people who created their own jobs and made it – and Nelson Mandela Bay is home to many.
On Friday (6 April), many of them will come together to share their stories, at a unique Future Business Leaders network event for teens who dream of running their own businesses and becoming business leaders one day.
“Most South Africans don’t view ‘entrepreneurship’ as a career option. I want to help change that view,” said organiser Ansulene Prinsloo, a qualified accountant and former academic, who introduced the national franchise Young Entrepreneurs to Port Elizabeth last year.
In South Africa – a country where more than 26% of the working-age population is unemployed, which adds up to nearly six-million job-seekers, many of them university graduates – entrepreneurial skills are becoming even more important.
“All of the entrepreneurs who will be speaking on Friday ‘started somewhere’. I want teenagers to know how they started. The youth often think you need millions to start a business, but this is not necessarily the case.”
Friday’s speakers include a broad range of entrepreneurs in a variety of fields from advertising and public relations, to energy and water solutions, to videography, fashion design, IT – and more.
One of the speakers is Simon Le Gras, founder and owner of Simon Says Advertising Agency, who advises youngsters to develop an entrepreneurial mindset to be “self-sufficient”.
“There is an inherent need to build an entrepreneurial culture in our country, where business and financial literacy are explained [and instilled] from a young age … We are all born with a natural talent and once enhanced, this can be transferred into a career of a sort. If we [have] an entrepreneurial mindset, we further enhance this talent by [creating new businesses and] employing people, thereby alleviating the country’s growing unemployment rate.”
“An entrepreneurial mindset is linked to creativity,” said another speaker, Thapelo Kuze. “Youngsters should be given platforms to tap into this creativity, so they can create jobs, create new innovative products/services and create a better world.” Kuze is the founder and Group CEO of NuWays Solutions Group, which supports entrepreneurs with the tools and support structures to facilitate access to finance and create sustainable enterprises which will create sustainable jobs for their communities.
Jonty Wattrus, who is involved in several businesses including Watelec, a supplier of prepaid water and electricity meters, along with water and energy saving products and services, said youngsters needed to think like entrepreneurs “to craft their own path in world”.
He said even if they don’t become entrepreneurs themselves, employers are looking for people with an entrepreneurial mindset as they are “solution finders”.
Prinsloo said: “The world needs people to be creative. The school system teaches kids to think for tests – not to come up with new ideas or new businesses. Even if you find a job, you have to think differently as the world is changing so fast.”
Prinsloo became interested in developing future entrepreneurs when her son, Berno Potgieter, completed his chemical engineering degree and could not find work after graduation – and took the risk of starting his own successful business.
“As a mom, I initially hated it. I wanted him to get a job but saw the light very quickly.
“Youth unemployment should be every parent’s worry.”
The Future Business Leaders network event on April 6 is open to teens aged 13 to 19 and costs R50. It takes place from 2pm to 4pm at St George’s College, 112 Park Drive. Contact Lumka on email@example.com or 041 101 1059 for more information.
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