Business expo aims to empower youth

Those who attended listened attentively and asked the speakers some tough questions.

In an effort to encourage ambitious small business owners and entrepreneurs to keep their doors open despite endless challenges they might be facing, Sakha Ikamva Youth organisation held a career and business expo at Lookout Hill on Friday May 6.

The organisation says it hosted the event to bring hope after a number of businesses closed their doors in the last two years due to the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The City of Cape Town, Department of Labour, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and Networking HIV and AIDS Community of Southern Africa (NACOSA) were some of the stakeholders who attended the event.

Sakha Ikamva Youth founder and chairperson, Phumeza Sidukwana, said the expo aimed to create a platform for small businesses to learn ways of accessing opportunities and funding and ensure that their ventures remain operational.

Ms Sidukwana said there are many entrepreneurs who have the potential to run successful businesses but they are frustrated due to limited resources.

However, she said it was critical that they stepped up and brought such services to their doorstep, especially departments that could inform the youth about bursary and learning opportunities.

“Unemployment is very high and there is a greater need to encourage young people to be job creators rather than being job seekers.

“I want to empower young people with knowledge and skills so that they could change their lives and make informed career and business choices.

‘’I want to use this platform to empower young people from Khayelitsha. We need to become agents of change in our communities and we must start inculcating a culture of extending a helping hand.

“If you are doing well in life, you must always try to help someone else to be at your level and not only care about your own wellbeing,” she said.

Asked about the organisation, Ms Sidukwana said she established the organisation in 2020 after she realised that a number of young people were losing their jobs.

She said she splits her salary in half in order to fund the organisation and cover some costs and she does this out of passion and love and in the hope that her little efforts could change someone else’s life.

Enterprise development specialist from the City of Cape Town, Andile Magadla, shared information about capacity building and ways of building string businesses.

Mr Magadla said many entrepreneurs were battling to deal with costing and pricing and it was essential that they share that knowledge and skill with them.

Among many negative perceptions from small businesses, he said, many argue that they are neglected and can’t do business with the City.

But he said it was crucial that their businesses are compliant and have all the necessary documents.

Emerging entrepreneur, Sisipho Betana, said the workshop has opened her eyes about other factors of the business which she did not really give much thought to.

The 24-year-old who resides in Qandu-Qandu informal settlements sells paraffin and had always had ambitions of having her own business.

Ms Betana said such platforms were critical as they give them an opportunity to network and learn various ways that could impact their businesses positively.

SEDA representative, Makuliwe Somdaka said it was essential that they encourage young people to open their own businesses.

He said another challenge they discovered is access to the market and they have created a pop-up markets programme so that small businesses could advertise their products.

Small Enterprise Development Agency representative, Makuliwe Somdaka takes questions from the young people who gathered at Look Out Hill to attend the business expo.