Image: 123RF/ langstrup

Believing that a multi-pronged approach is required to increase the levels of employment, and support inclusion and social cohesion, a Gauteng-based entrepreneur has launched a boot camp to encourage the youth to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice instead of looking to be absorbed into the already constricted job market.

Through Project Jala, Lebona Moleli, founder of the Marketing Kraal and Lesaka Marketing Consulting, hopes to encourage the youth to be entrepreneurs so that they can create wealth and in turn employment.

Jala is a Sotho word meaning plant a seed. In the first phase of the project, 60 grade 11 pupils from Rabasotho High School in Diepsloot were assessed for their capability to participate in a week-long entrepreneurship boot camp during the school holidays.

Moleli spent 17 years in the corporate sector before venturing into entrepreneurship 11 years ago.

With Statistics SA putting the unemployment rate at 26.4%, half of that number consisting of people under the age of 35, Moleli believes one of the solutions is to encourage high school pupils to consider entrepreneurship as a career after their tertiary education studies.

From the 60 applicants, the top 10 pupils attended the camp last week where they were taught the basics of entrepreneurship, including business planning, marketing, branding, financial management and operations management. It included site visits to businesses and factories to expose the group to real business.

The pupils were then given an assignment to develop an innovative business idea and present the business to a panel of judges.

They were judged on their innovative business idea as well as the implementation and scalability of the business. The top three pupils won educational prizes to assist them with their grade 12 studies next year.

Entrepreneurship helps grow the economy and gets more young people into jobs, especially given the slow job expansion in both the private and public sectors.

Moleli hopes to make the entrepreneurship boot camp an annual event.

For this to happen, it is important for young people to first understand that they too can also play an equally important part in tackling the challenge of unemployment.

Indeed, promoting youth entrepreneurship cannot just be left to the government. It is everybody’s responsibility, including young people, to contribute to effectively curbing the rising levels of unemployment.

This is an approach that will help the country to deal with the high unemployment it is facing.

The country needs more business-minded people like Moleli, who have the determination to ensure that young people do not seek employment when they finish their studies but become employers and creators of wealth.

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