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What we can learn about SA's future entrepreneurs

Today’s learners, tomorrow’s entrepreneurs, writes Rick Ed


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If you want to see what exciting prospects tomorrow holds, take a closer look at today’s bright young minds.

I recently had the privilege of being the bootcamp facilitator, overseeing 28 amazing high school learners whose proposals were selected for the intensive Step Up 2 A Start Up bootcamp by PrimeStars Marketing at Gold Reef City.

PrimeStars Marketing used 15 Ster Kinekor cinemas as "Educational Theatres of Learning" to put 90,000 under-privileged learners through Career Guidance, Financial Literacy, Matric Math & Science Revision, Leadership Development and Entrepreneurship courses nationwide last year.

Sixteen thousand learners also received the Step Up 2 A Start Up entrepreneurship toolkit as part of their programme.

Using this toolkit and with support from their educators, four hundred of the learners conceptualised innovative solutions to pressing social or environmental issues and then developed business model canvasses to realise their solutions.

The learners fine-tuned their model canvasses and perfected their presentations under the guidance of business experts* who volunteered their time and expertise. 

The adjudicators representing the sponsors were tough in applying the criteria: learners had to demonstrate that their solution would be both viable and profitable.

What was astounding was that 16 to 18 year olds clearly understood the magnitude of problems that face the world today and were imaginative yet realistic enough to be able to develop solutions that work.

They had solutions for a myriad of solutions including: converting discarded metal containers into hi-tech audio equipment, schoolgirls’ recyclable sanitary pads made from organic material, crime preventing personal home alarm system, repurposing waste plastic as eco-friendly clothing, noise-pollution-cancelling headphones, customised irrigation system from discarded plastic bottles, water-saving electronic water meter, controlled irrigation system, solar-charging and storing peak cap, backpack with built-in navigating and tracking system.

The initiative and effort demonstrated by the 28 finalists was recognised and rewarded at the awards gala evening at Crown Reef Convention Centre where prizes worth over R 1.6 million in value reflected the commitment of the various sponsors* to developing young South African entrepreneurs.

At the ceremony celebrating their achievement, PrimeStars’ Martin Sweet encouraged the finalists to stay hungry, to take risks and to do good.

Have you considered helping a young aspiring entrepreneur by offering your services as a business mentor?

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