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Serious about youth business in South Africa

Our youth entrepreneurship development programme in South Africa, SAB KickStart, turns 20 this year, a significant milestone for a scheme that has helped thousands of young entrepreneurs to build sustainable private enterprises

SAB KickStart works as an annual competition, with hundreds of entries shortlisted to just 60 of the best potential candidates. These successful candidates participate in an intensive two-week business training programme and develop a business plan, which they present to a panel of independent judges. Those entrepreneurs deemed to have the best business plans qualify for the regional phase of the programme, from which the 18 national finalists emerge.

The names of the national finalists in the 2014/2015 SAB KickStart competition were recently revealed. Each of their businesses has undergone a needs-analysis used to design a customised business development strategy. This strategy determines how much grant funding their business requires and the content of a 12-month long business development support programme, including personalised mentorship. During Global Entrepreneurship Week (16 - 22 November 2015) the top five of the group will be announced, with each receiving additional grant funding of between R100,000 and R500,000 (US$8,200 and US$41,000).

Meanwhile, the class of 2013 have been talking about their SAB KickStart experience. They include Earl Muller, founder of biodiesel manufacturer NAM Petroleum. He explained: “I left the corporate industry because I wanted to start my own business, to be an entrepreneur and to do something for my community by employing people. For me, SAB KickStart is one of the best programmes in the country – I got so much exposure from being on it.”

Leeko Nkala, owner of condiment producer Chilladiddo, started making relish as a hobby in 2009 and it wasn’t until 2012 that her company was formally registered. She said: “I entered this programme to take my business to another level; the grant money we’ve received has allowed us to ensure we cook in a decent facility… It’s important to have the solid foundation that programmes like SAB KickStart afford you.”

It’s not just the businesses supported which are growing. The SAB KickStart programme itself embarks upon its third decade of existence this year with a new and much broader remit. From 2015 onwards, the SAB KickStart brand becomes an umbrella for three related initiatives:

  • SAB KickStart Boost will retain the established competition format of the original programme, providing grant funding, business training, business development support and loan funding;
  • SAB KickStart Ignite is a new competition aimed at promoting industrial innovation among young people.  Working in partnership with FET (further education and training) colleges, SAB KickStart Ignite will offer training, mentorship and seed funding;
  • SAB KickStart Elevate will offer mentoring and loan funding to help high growth youth businesses achieve the necessary scale to deliver within large supply chains.

Mpho Sadiki, SAB’s Head of Sustainability and Transformation, said of the initiative: “SAB KickStart is indicative of SAB’s commitment to developing and supporting high impact youth entrepreneurs, whose businesses can then become sustainable and make a meaningful contribution to society and the economy through the creation of many jobs.”

To hear more from Earl Muller, Leeko Nkala and the rest of the SAB KickStart Class of 2013, visit SAB KickStart’s dedicated YouTube channel.

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