Entrepreneurship seen as solution to youth unemployment in Eastern Cape

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The Eastern Cape has a youth unemployment rate of more than 60%. Becoming an entrepreneur is encouraged as one of the solutions to the problem, something many young people are turning to.

But competition is tough and due to the lack of access to capital, some budding young entrepreneurs start their business on a small scale, with low input costs.

And the weak economy means people have even less to spend but success is possible, it is all about finding a niche in the market.

A typical township scene, a hive of activity, young people vying to capture a share of a saturated market.

Video: Youth unemployment in Eastern Cape

Most rely on informal businesses to survive.

A tough task when everyone is pushing the same idea, selling the same food.

This was the case for Lungisa Valeni. But he changed his offering, going for traditionally baked pot and steamed bread, as well as free-range chicken, known as “umleqwa”.

He is now known as uBae woMbhako, which has become his brand. “People said we love pot bread but we can’t make it and love steamed bread but can’t get the dough right. Since you know how to make it and have the time we will support you because we need you.”

People expect value for their money, as they have less to spend.

Xabiso Goniwe has found a way to add value to his business. He restores faded and worn-out clothes and shoes.

“You don’t have to take your last cent to eat at home because you are going to an occasion. You can take a small amount and tell me which colour you would like your item because it’s cheaper. You can use your clothes over and over again.”

These young entrepreneurs are building on the knowledge gained from the youth of the past. You don’t really need a conducive environment to succeed.

Lungisa Baleni says, “We can use that courage and power the youth of 1976 had to work hard. The way they protested, we can draw inspiration to change our lives and the economy of today can change automatically.”