Cornerstone College commemorated Youth Month and the 40th commemoration of the student uprising on June 16 1976 with a dialogue on entrepreneurship, held at the college’s Salt River campus.
The event was officially opened by Thulani Dube, a business programme developer and lecturer at the college.
“Five weeks ago this event was just an idea in my head, (but) I decided to push it,” said Mr Dube.
The dialogue was facilitated by young entrepreneur Irven Hope, who told the gathering that at the core of entrepreneurship are people who look at the world and say “it’s not the way things should be”.
“The general perception among the youth is the past we don’t understand, the present is confusing and the future is uncertain,” said Mr Hope.
Panellists included Pick n Pay executive director, Suzanne Ackerman-Berman; Chris Louw of the National Empowerment Fund; Bernie Berkowitz of Absa’s enterprise development unit; Mzwandile Simelane from Citizens ZA, which promotes active citizenship, Aphindiwe Nofuya of the Industrial Development Corporation and Xolani Bodlo of the National Youth Development Agency.
Talking about the challenges facing young entrepreneurs, Mr Bodlo said it is very difficult to start a business without cash capital, but he encouraged the youth to seize business opportunities, and Mr Louw warned that no one should start a business blindly and that planning was essential.
In response to a question about “quick-fix” solutions to address cash needs, Mr Berkowitz said business takes time to shape and hard work, time and mentoring are very important in business, while Mr Simelane warned that there is no instant success in business. He said you have to pursue your business full-time in order to be successful.
One of the guests, Bulelwa Base, said while words like transformation have been “thrown around” for a long time, now was the time for practical solutions.
Another guest, Yolanda Magida, asked the panellists what the corporate world was doing to assist with youth development.
Pick * Pay, said Ms Ackerman, offers a six-month entrepreneurship course, mentorship and skills training, while Mr Berkowitz said Absa helps create opportunities for entrepreneurship by making loans available to start-ups.
In response to Mr Hope’s question about what they would do if their companies were to be closed, Mr Bodlo said if the NYDA were to be shut down, there would still be a need for youth mentoring, while Mr Berkowitz said if Absa closed tomorrow, it would send shockwaves through the South African economy.