Amidst economic challenges and a staggering unemployment rate of 33% in 2021, where 6 in 10 young people find themselves without a job, particularly among South Africa’s youth, a glimmer of hope emerges through the avenue of youth entrepreneurship. Given the persistently high unemployment rates, the need for innovative solutions has never been more urgent. But there’s some hope: numerous opportunities have arisen to give South Africans, particularly young people, a chance to get a foothold in the economy. As we navigate these challenges, small businesses emerge as beacons of hope, providing platforms for young minds to turn creative concepts into profitable ventures, ultimately contributing to job creation and fostering a more inclusive and prosperous economy.

Youth entrepreneurship in South Africa is not just a response to unemployment; it’s a catalyst for positive change. The country’s dynamic young minds are turning creative concepts into profitable small business ventures, contributing significantly to job creation, community building, financial inclusion, and innovation.

4% of young individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 had their businesses in 2022, making up 15% of all young persons in employment. Alongside this, small businesses account for 30% of all jobs in the country.

So, how do these small businesses make a difference?

1. Job Creation:
Small enterprises are vital in generating employment opportunities addressing the historically high unemployment rates. As these businesses expand, they provide jobs for their owners and contribute to developing a more inclusive job market.

2. Community Building:
Locally owned small businesses become the heart of their communities, offering essential services and fostering a sense of connection. Their presence helps attract and retain consumers in local towns and cities, positively impacting the economic condition of the entire country.

3. Financial Inclusion:
By increasing the number of participants in the economy, small businesses contribute to financial inclusion. This not only expands the tax base but also encourages skill development, ensuring a more secure financial future for a broader section of the population.

4. Innovation Institutes:
Small businesses in South Africa are at the forefront of innovation. Their collective efforts are crucial for the country’s competitiveness in the global creative economy, driving progress and pushing boundaries.

To illustrate the impact of small businesses, I spoke with Sarah, a 24-year-old entrepreneur and former student from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She runs a successful nail business, Nails by K, which emphasises small businesses’ significance in creating community employment opportunities.

She started her business because of the need for more job opportunities after she finished her studies in administration. After graduating, she spent six months looking for jobs. She attended a few interviews with prospective employers in the second half of the year. However, this was to no luck of any response, leaving her vulnerable to unemployment. Her day-to-day was filled with a routine of waking up, watching series, and sleeping, which she no longer enjoyed.

She soon learned securing employment in South Africa was challenging; therefore, she took it upon herself to create an opportunity and income.

Sarah stressed the importance of support, not only through purchasing products and services but also through word of mouth.

Sarah envisions her nail business evolving into an academy, a testament to the transformative power of small businesses. She shared, “I’d love to teach people as I’ve seen what the business has done for me.”

In supporting small businesses, we contribute to the growth and prosperity of our communities. Let’s celebrate the silent heroes of our economy—small businesses—and recognise them as opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand their visions.

Please share with us: Which small businesses do you endorse, and what are the reasons behind your support?