Saudah Birungi, a 22-year old girl from Uganda, lost her brother from cholera because of drinking dirty water, and to assist her mother with providing for the family she had to drop out of school. From this tragedy, she was determined to see that no other child should die from drinking dirty water and today children in her area have access to affordable, clean water. This is how Tusafishe, one of the Top 20 young entrepreneurs of 2019 Anzisha Prize Forum, was established. Tusafishe was birthed from realising that “you can use your pain to create an opportunity”. Listen to Saudah’s pitch here. https://youtu.be/_oocmZADo40.
Although her business was birthed from a tragedy, her story should inspire those not employed to venture out into the unknown and use what they must to make a difference in their communities. The thought may be daunting; however, you don’t have to do it on your own. To get out of the unemployment cycle you need grit, the can-do attitude, access to information, a network of like-minded people, sponsors, and seasoned entrepreneurs.
In this difficult economical challenge that we are facing, more conversations and more strategies need to be put in place to address the twin problem of unemployment and job creation. Forums such as Anzisha and the Youth Development in South Africa Summit are a starting to point to changing the status quo of entrepreneurship. The Experience Factory believes that as a society, conversations need to be had by, and with, parents, educators, policymakers, young entrepreneurs, mature entrepreneurs, investors who make up our ecosystem so we can end the vicious cycle of unemployment.
Lebo, a Grade 11 pupil, recently shared his thoughts on his entrepreneurship aspirations. He does agriculture at school as a subject however he is using this skill to feed children at an orphanage close to him. As entrepreneurial as he may be, he chooses to be anonymous in his activities because “having a business means having power, and power breeds corruption”. All he wants is to quietly do his “thing” without being in the public eye. It is quite striking that a young man who probably has a great and innovative idea that could grow into something big believes that being with power automatically leads to corruption. However, that is what he is exposed to.
When told that as his own business owner, he has the power to dictate how business should be run and what he doesn’t like can be thrown away, he was genuinely surprised. Furthermore, he was alerted to the fact that if you are anonymous, it might be very difficult to pitch your idea to get access to resources to grow your business. This young man is now left with much to think about. What is encouraging, though, is that he now has a new network of people who can provide access to information and guidance to assist him in his entrepreneurial journey. This conversation revealed the much-needed conversation on entrepreneurship and how crucial it is to begin to introduce this in schools.
The call for greater efforts to be placed on entrepreneurship has become more urgent now than ever before. TEF’s role to bridge the gap between unemployed graduates and the professional environment has become more relevant and necessary. TEF provides the Talent with holistic approach to realising their full potential, through skills development, mentorship, and personal development, over and above the hard skills, they have obtained. Entrepreneurial thinking not only provides opportunities to start your own business but also in a challenging environment like South Africa, companies are looking for Talent that has an entrepreneurial mind, problem-solving skills and innovative thinking to ensure sustainability of the company thus creating employment for the youth and unemployed graduates.
TEF is committed to engaging with all stakeholders in changing the narrative about entrepreneurship, which will take a collective and collaborative effort to change the status quo by altering our views and engaging more intentionally.