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The world is burning, the hour is late, and the time is now for the current and future generations to chart a greener path, harness their power and become job creators rather than job seekers. Enter the 2023 edition of South Africa’s groundbreaking youth entrepreneurship initiative, ‘Step Up 2 A Green Start-Up.’ This programme aims to empower young individuals by teaching them to seize opportunities in the green economy and craft community-based business solutions.
The Green Economy’s Promise
Primestars MD, Martin Sweet, underscores the potential of the green economy. He quotes the International Labour Organisation’s estimate that the green economy will generate 60 million new jobs globally by 2030. This figure includes up to 1.8 million jobs in South Africa according to data from C40 Cities. To tap into this potential and combat the country’s high unemployment rate, youth must be equipped with the tools, skills, and inspiration to become successful entrepreneurs in a circular, restorative, inclusive, and clean economy.
A Legacy of Empowerment
Since its inception in 2014, the ‘Step Up 2 A Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship programme has been using a unique edutainment model. It has successfully cultivated an entrepreneurial culture and mindset in over 90,000 high school learners and 3,000 teachers from more than 1,500 under-resourced high schools across South Africa.
Expanding the Reach
The programme, targeting high school learners across the country, embraces urban, peri-urban, township, and rural areas. The journey begins in August with learners being transported to cinemas to watch ‘Karabo’s Kitchen,’ an edutainment film produced by Primestars and key partners. This film is complemented by a practical handbook providing students with the essential tools for success as social entrepreneurs.
The programme then transitions into the “competition phase,” featuring a national entrepreneurship boot camp and the prestigious National Youth Awards ceremony held in December, with prizes valued at over 4 million rand.
Educating for Change
The programme educates young people on sustainability’s importance and how the green economy plays a crucial role in achieving it. It shares success stories of individuals, role models, businesses, and communities thriving in the green economy. Moreover, it highlights green industries as a viable career path and encourages innovation in this field.
A Year of Milestones
2023 marks nine years of ‘Step Up 2 A Start Up,’ and it brings exciting additions:
The launch of the #StepUpAlumni network fostered lasting connections with previous beneficiaries.
Expansion of the programme to new areas, particularly rural communities.
Strategic collaborations with partner organisations advocating for entrepreneurship in schools.
Supporting the Vision
Stakeholders, including Nedbank, Sappi, EOH, Omnia, Allan and Gill Gray Philanthropies, SEDA, AECI, 3M, SAFRIPOL, BTE, Richfield, Johannesburg Business School, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Seed Academy, WDB Investment Holdings, Zutari, Sizwe, BCW Africa, Proudly South African, Mulilo, Uber, JSE, Tourvest Travel Services, Protea Hotels, Versapak, Afrika Tikkun, Buhle Waste, Airlink, Raizcorp, Entrepreneurship Employability Education, provide invaluable support.
Paving the Way to Prosperity
While many entrepreneurship programmes target post-matric youth, the ‘Step Up 2 A Green Start Up’ initiative aims to instil a culture of entrepreneurship and wealth creation early in the career development process. As Martin Sweet notes, “We look forward to working with our sponsors to transform every school in South Africa into a thriving and sustainable entrepreneurship hub, paving the way to employment, equality, and prosperity for our youth.”