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22 on Sloane proud to provide its third year of youth empowerment programmes

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | JUNE 24, 2019

Photo: Youth taking part in the Youth Weekend Programme at 22 On Sloane.

As Youth Month comes to an end, we must ask ourselves, what have we done differently to make our communities, cities, countries and continent better?

Last week, President Ramaphosa delivered his State of Nations Address (SONA). It was praised by some, but also criticized by some because of its dream-lined fantasies and undertone. Most argued that concrete steps about turning these dreams into reality should have been provided. My guess is that these concrete steps have to be provided by each individual Departments led by the Ministers that he’s appointed.

One cannot also blame these reality-seekers. We are swamped in a code-red youth unemployment crisis, which needs rapid, laser-sharp solutions. Yet we can’t place the blame solely on the President because, as a leader and former businessman, his key focus is on attracting direct foreign investment to create these jobs – and investors need a dream, a vision, to believe in – and assurance that the future is indeed investable.

We’re also not alone here. This is a global problem, although, it seems some countries are better prepared to tackle this problem than others. Recently, Multichoice announced it’s about to cut up to 2000 jobs because of the rise of new technologies. One cannot ignore the fact that competition in this industry has increased dramatically over the past few years with entrants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Black and others joining in.

Yet job cuts are quietly becoming a swift reality in all industries, as the need for human resources continues to decline. Take Standard Bank for example, which has begun cutting down on brick and mortar branches, preferring to offer a more streamlined and digitized experience. Many more are soon to follow and I believe the emphasis will be on those linked heavily to connectivity, such as financial services, where fintech start-ups are now disrupting the market. Facebook has also just announced its plans to launch Libra, which is a Cryptocurrency that processes payments via its WhatsApp platform. Other industries include insurance and retail, which employ most of the low-skilled workers, especially in call centres and customer services.

On the flip-side, in the public sector, Eskom is expertly-deemed to be a whopping 66% overstaffed with a massive wage bill. Cutting those jobs (mostly redundant, middle-management ones and not those tech-threatened) could actually help save Eskom financially in the long term.

For South Africa, speed is of the essence. It’s feeling the pressure because it has the advanced infrastructure to embrace and exploit digital solutions to compete globally, yet hasn’t really done so, whereas a lot of African countries still don’t even have the capacity yet.

Thankfully, in 2017, we foresaw many of these challenges, prompting us to launch the Youth Weekend Programme that targets young people aged from 13 to 17.

The programme aims to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and groom the next generation of founders and game-changers, who seek to improve the communities where they live and also advance disruption in various other industries.

The programme usually runs for six months on selected Saturdays and covers the following modules: Introduction to design thinking and entrepreneurship; Concept development and testing; The consumer value proposition; Disruption and future industries; Designing a winning pitch; Coding and drone technology.

After completing the modules, participants have the opportunity to enter the Youth Innovative Business Competition, which drives innovative thinking and the creation of youth-owned business ideas that are presented to a panel. Cash prizes are up for grabs and the chance to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Week, hosted by GEN Africa at 22 on Sloane in November 2019.

Last year, we had ten participants from the suburbs and we judiciously matched them with another ten participants from the Diepsloot community, which we subsidized with the payments made from the suburban kids’ parents. The programme also boosts community interaction with idea exchanges, all of which help build a brighter future for the youth.

This year, we hope to do the same and the first programme will start on Saturday 6th July. For more information, please visit www.22onsloane.co/youth-weekend-programme/

Today, there are many youth development programmes and we are proud to be a significant part of the mix as key stakeholders, working together to empower the next generation of young, aspiring entrepreneurs.

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.

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