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N. Cape youth shine in youth start-up contest

EOH: The team from Gariep High School in Prieska was a finalist at the Step Up 2A Green Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
The team from Gariep High School in Prieska was a finalist at the Step Up 2A Green Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

A business proposal for an “e-slip” app secured a Northern Cape high-school trio a top 5 spot in a national green entrepreneurship competition and backing from IT giant EOH – along with prizes that include bursaries, tablets and vouchers.

The team from Gariep High School in Prieska was a finalist at the Step Up 2A Green Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards, which culminated in a prestigious ceremony held at Nedbank in Sandton last week. The first prize went to a team of three from KwaZulu-Natal for their concept of using Marula nuts as a fuel source.

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Gariep High grade 11 learners Olwam Ngesi, Colin Van Schalk Wyk and Loyiso Monakali proposed an “e-slip” app that would enable retail stores and informal businesses to send receipt slips to their customers, reducing unnecessary paper usage while making it easier for consumers to keep track of their spending.

“We are very excited about how well we did. We put in so much effort and now we have been rewarded for our hard work and determination. During this process I learnt that if you want success, it takes hard work and sacrifices. We had to stay up until 4am preparing this pitch, which was hard, but it taught me that I have to be so hungry for success and that perseverance is key,” said team leader Lyosio Monakali.

The Northern Cape team captured EOH’s interest, with the group’s transformation manager Venetia Van Wyk stepping on stage to announce its commitment to building the full application for the team’s business as well as sponsoring the maintenance of the application for 12 months as they work to get established.

“We really appreciate the help from EOH and we know it will help open doors for us. The next step will be to bring this app to life with EOH’s help, and then go out and market it to make a real success of it,” added Monakali.

The team also each received a degree bursary from Richfield to the value of R112,000; a bursary to the Johannesburg Business School’s Entrepreneurship Programme to the value of R50,000; Tablets sponsored by Sizwe IT Africa Group and a R3 000 voucher from Markhams TFG.

The Step Up 2 A Green Start Up National Youth Green Entrepreneurship Programme, run by youth development agency Primestars, has over the last eight years shown nearly 100 000 youngsters how they hold the power to be a positive force for both the planet and job-hungry South Africans, by harnessing environmental challenges as new business opportunities.

“To create entrepreneurs and reduce our high unemployment rate, our youth will need to learn skills and develop competencies that will enable them to create businesses and become gainful employers in a circular, restorative, inclusive and clean economy,” said Primestars MD Martin Sweet at the event.

To demonstrate practical inspiration for the journeys that the bright young entrepreneurs are about to embark on, two business excellence categories were put forward to recognise distinguished South African entrepreneurs. The prestigious Trailblazer of The Year Award was accepted by Mr Alan Fainman, CEO of Bidvest Services International; and Mr Mandla Mpofu on behalf of Omnia Holdings walked away with the coveted Innovator of the Year award for their ground-breaking Nutriology brand in the agricultural space.

The award ceremony marks the last stage of the 2022 instalment of the Step Up 2A Start Up programme. In the days running up to the event, learners and teachers had also participated in a business boot camp in Johannesburg, with workshops led by representatives from a few of the programme partners, including Nedbank, Richfield, Sizwe Africa IT Group, Johannesburg Business School, Uber, Allan Gray Entrepreneurship Challenge, Raizcorp and Clicks.

“As young people, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you must enter the journey to leave a legacy”, said Seriti Resources’ CEO Mike Teke, who delivered a candid but inspirational keynote address. Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu said, “We all know that start-up entrepreneurs need a multiplicity of support.” This support came through from the programme’s sponsors with prizes valued over R5 million.

Each participating learner received bursaries from Richfield to the value of R112 000, bursaries to The Johannesburg Business School Entrepreneurship Programme to the value of R50 000, and tablets from Sizwe Africa IT Group. Other prizes for learners include a trip to Silicon Valley sponsored by Sage/EGL Institute; access to business incubator Razicorp’s P3 programme and Seed Academy’s internship programme; seed funding of R20 000; vouchers from Markhams and Clicks. Prizes for teachers also include tablets, as well as an invitation to attend Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Circle of Excellence Conference. Additional prizes were pledged on the spot by EOH, Proudly South African and the Signa Group.

The Step Up 2A Green Start Up programme consists of four stages:

  • The Edutainment Feature Film (Karabo’s Kitchen), which tackles the potential of social and environmental entrepreneurship, using a network of cinemas to reach thousands of young people.
  • The Entrepreneurs Tool Kit, that provides a practical step-by-step guide based on the Lean Start-up methodology.
  • The STEP UP 2A START UP National Youth Entrepreneurship Competition, where the ideas of school teams are heard, tested, and supported.
  • The Boot Camp and National Youth Entrepreneurship Awards.

“Primestars is extremely passionate about this programme, and we are honoured to have sponsors on board that share the same passion for the programme and the potential it holds in offering young South Africans a better future.” concludes Martin Sweet.

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