The Innovator Trust hosted their 2020 Young Entrepreneurial Programme Graduation in a distinguished digital and livestreamed event, shining the spotlight on some of South Africa’s bright, young ICT entrepreneurs who have performed exceptionally well within the YEP programme, achieving incredible outcomes for their businesses despite a dismal economic climate and a global pandemic.
The virtual experience was held on Tuesday, 8th September to a closed audience which was streamed live to industry peers, colleagues and other beneficiaries of the programme. As MC of the event, actress and media entrepreneur, Ayanda Thabethe sharing from her personal journey, offered words of motivation which resonated with the young entrepreneurs, “Don’t despise small beginnings – my journey began as a personal assistant,” shared Thabethe.
The event also saw the people’s hustler DJ Sbu take to the virtual stage to deliver a raw and inspiring keynote address highlighting the importance of staying focused on the journey and looking after the mental aspect of running a business. “You must be so firm in your journey, knowing, understanding, and loving yourself that you do not need any outside validation. Know what you are doing and know where you are going,” were some of the words from DJ Sbu
For the Top 6 YEP Graduates Senzeni Dladla from Ermelo, Mpumalanga, Thembekile Duze from Soweto and Constance Mokgabudi from Tembisa, both in the Gauteng province, and from the Western Cape, Emihle Sokatsha representing Khayalitsha, Shakeel Sadan from Worcester and Thato Mangena from Mitchell’s Plain, who were all recognised for their efforts, this was a bittersweet moment celebrating success and growth of their business ventures while at the same time coming to the end of the road of a year-long partnership with the Innovator Trust. “I am out of words, thank you Innovator Trust, 8th September 2020 marks a year of greatness for me, said Constance founder of Tubatse Dreamers Youth Academy. Another YEP Graduate and owner of the Duze Institute, Thembekile Duze, was even more elated at the occasion as she celebrated both graduation and birthday all in one. “Thank you to the Innovator Trust for everything, and to have the graduation on my birthday, what a wonderful day, remarked Thembekile,
Taking stock of the year in review, the YEP programme which focuses on ICT SMME’s specifically, has succeeded for the third consecutive year now, in its aim to be a Youth programme with a difference by not only providing skills training, funding support and mentorship, all vital elements for a young, small business, but by doing that extra bit more to drive sustainable growth, helping young business owners identify their pain points and (guiding them through/sticking it out with them) to meet those needs.
“In working with young entrepreneurs across the country over the last couple of years, we’ve realised that most entrepreneurs start businesses to meet their immediate needs to survive. What most struggle with when they start out is not the lack of ideas, or marketing, or a plan to make money, it is in fact some of the most basic requirements one needs to go about doing that, and that is access to bare minimum resources in order to just get things like some data and a laptop to get going,” shares Tashline Jooste, CEO for the Innovator Trust. In addressing the crucial element of data connectivity and accessibility to technology, the YEP programme ensures that all data costs are covered and that each beneficiary receives a laptop as a tool to be used (which belongs to them), with insurance, for the full year of participation on the programme.
A key differentiator of the YEP programme is its strong focus on addressing the lack of practical experience and recognising that start-up entrepreneurs don’t always have or know how to apply textbook business administration to the real-life scenario. Taking a holistic approach to learning and skills exchange, the YEP programme makes it compulsory for business participants to complete an internship with SMME’s from the Enterprise Development programme who are a bit further along on the entrepreneurial journey. Beneficiaries have found this experience to be tremendously valuable in providing them with an in-depth look at where key challenges in a business arise and cultivating solutionist thinking by constantly being challenged to come up with creative solutions for day-to-day difficulties.
Where statistics sets the scene at 50% of all young start-ups failing in the first year, ICT entrepreneurs on Innovator Trust’s YEP Programme certainly have an opportunity to beat those odds and are proving that sometimes a little help when you’re starting out, goes a long way to ensuring longevity and character to stay the entrepreneurial course.
Are you a young entrepreneur with a business idea in the ICT sector? Register NOW to apply to the Youth Entrepreneurial Programme (YEP) for 2021. Applications are currently open. Head over to the Innovator Trust’s website, www.innovatortrust.co.za or make contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.