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.”