28 February 2013

Zambia: Private Sector Must Back Youth Projects

In last week's article, the column mentioned that it is unwise to encourage youths to become more entrepreneurial without telling them how, in the same vein, I feel it is unwise to encourage the private sector to support youth projects without telling them how they can do that without losing their business focus.

There are many ways in which the private sector can contribute to the empowerment of the youth in ways that they can also benefit from. Ways that can create a more sustainable future for their businesses and for their communities.

Today in Zambia, the private sector can assume some influence in society. Private businesses can become key sources of economic growth, employment and investment which can benefit local communities and the country.

Some of these companies in the private sector are entities with a background of global presence, which makes them more than able to support the growth of local youth projects.

A few days ago, it was pleasing to see a young boy aged only 10 winning Talent Yapa Zed, a show that attracted contestants to battle for KR100,000 (K100 million).

After looking at the time, the resources and the talents showcased, I was thrilled except for the fact that I felt it would have been better if there were more winners picked. I have nothing against little ones contesting in such events but I strongly believe that if that contest was won by an adult, the cash prize money would have been invested in projects or ways that could have benefitted other youths like creation of businesses. Anyway every game has got its own rules!

The private sector needs to support or continue coming up with ways that will encourage constructive youth participation in this country which will eventually help to ensure growth of youth entrepreneurship.

Since young people bring new and dynamic ideas to the table, promoting their entrepreneurship skills would not just help them, but will bring new dimensions to the private sector world.

Last year Finance Deputy Minister Miles Sampa said after attending the opening session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2012 Annual Ministerial Review meeting focusing on "Promoting Productive Capacity and Decent Work to Eradicate Poverty in the Context of Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth At All Levels for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals".

"What we observed from the meeting today is that the solutions are not only in providing jobs to the youths from Government and companies. The youth should become innovative and come up with bankable ideas that can be financed either by the Government or the private sector," the Deputy Minister said.

He urged the youths to start thinking of becoming employers and not depending on being employed.

The millennium development goal number eight: Developing a global partnership for development should also mean developing local partnerships for development.

The private sector should form local partnerships with youths in their communities by supporting their projects or their education through schools, youth cooperatives and skills training centres. This idea would leave a win-win situation because the sector would be dealing with people who have a mutual understanding with them.

While the Government is primarily responsible for creating an enabling environment for youth employment, improving employment opportunities for young people requires a broad and concerted effort from all stakeholders. The private sector needs to come in as they have an important role to play in the empowerment process. .

The following are some of the ways that the private sector can adopt to support youth entrepreneurship;

• Incorporate the national youth policy in their company social responsibility programmes as a way of responding to the needs and aspirations of the youth.

• Promote youth cooperatives and youth-led organisations by financing and strengthening their entrepreneurial projects.

• Provide opportunities for promoting youth employment through investments in entrepreneurship, development and apprenticeship opportunities and innovative funding schemes.

Participate in Government youth programmes and incentives to create new jobs for young people

Offer mentoring of young entrepreneurs and business start-up assistance.

Establishment of young entrepreneurs' networks or support to ease access to enterprise networks.

If youth entrepreneurship grows, the private sector will also grow. Jobs would be in abundance and on a sustainable basis.

Having said that I thought I should start showcasing youth projects that I feel would make a difference if given that financial or material urge.

A Ndola youth entrepreneurship media project is looking for either funding or investment; the business is looking for venture capitalists who can inject some funds as shareholders. The media project which is not only unique has a clear and bankable business plan that needs a cash injection for its start-up.

The following are the highlights of the project;

Educative media project that will employ five youths during its first year on the market and about 12 youths in its third year. The business has three professional staff (youths) with a strong media background experience.

It is offering a 20 per cent on all the total monthly profits of the product to the potential capital investor.

For potential funders who prefer offering funding in terms of a grant, the business intends to help market their businesses extensively during its public events and in its media product.

The business has all the necessary equipment to execute the work needed but it is the funds for coming up with the final product that is needed.

The project has a detailed, bankable business plan and sample of the product that can be availed to any potential funder at any time.

This is an opportunity for the private sector to invest in something educative that will also open doors for youth employment.

For more details contact: moseskabaila@gmail.com/0950636454

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