Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has urged South African youth to make the most of the state's Black Industrialists Programme, and come up with innovative business ideas instead of chasing tenders and shareholdings at established companies.
Gigaba was speaking to the SABC on the sidelines of the Progressive Youth in Business breakfast in the Eastern Cape on Thursday, ahead of the African National Congress’s birthday celebrations to be held this weekend in East London.
He also highlighted government’s role in helping SA youth access markets. SA has one of the world's highest rates of youth unemployment.
According to StatsSA's quarterly labour force survey for the third quarter of 2017, youth unemployment stands at 38.6%.
“We want young people to become innovators and entrepreneurs, to come up with fresh ideas and take advantage of the Black Industrialists Programme,” he said.
The Black Industrialists Programme was launched in 2016 and is driven by the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to promote a more inclusive economy by increasing black ownership of industrial enterprises.
Government has been making an effort to remove barriers to entry for the youth, but they have to “organise” themselves and identify sectors they want to be involved in, said the finance minister.
“[They should] not only focus on seeking tenders in government and seeking shareholding in existing companies,” he added.
“Young people are the group in society which can provide more long term and sustainable entrepreneurial activity than you can get from older people close to retirement, trying to make a retirement package as quickly as possible and least likely to embark on more long-term sustainable endeavours,” said Gigaba.
Some initiatives by Treasury to support SMMEs include undertaking public procurement legislation reform and ringfencing sectors in the economy for participation by black people, he explained.
Further, the dti also provides funding for SMMEs through the Black Industrialists Programme, and the private sector, particularly the CEO Initiative, has established a R1.5-billion SME fund to support growth and development of small businesses.