Conference opens doors for youth | Feature | Small Business Connect

Charles Tshwane, owner of custom-made clothing label Zebediela Gae Ga Mhlako, attended the Youth Entrepreneurs Connect Conference.

The recent Youth Entrepreneurs Connect Conference could be the breakthrough many young business owners need to gain a foothold in their respective industries, says entrepreneur Luvuyo Rani.

Rani, owner of IT firm Silulo Ulutho Technologies and this year’s top 10 Junior Chamber International finalist, was speaking at the event held in Cape Town last month.

The event – hosted by business support organisation Youth Entrepreneur Connect and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) – aims to expose youth to entrepreneurship using face-to-face business advice, networking and information-sharing sessions.

Some 300 young entrepreneurs attended last month’s inaugural Youth Entrepreneurship Conference.

Speaking at the event Joshua Wolmarans, the department’s director of enterprise development said that young people are generally taught to find a job instead of becoming the creators of employment.

“This conference provides the youth with a platform to showcase the possibilities of becoming an entrepreneur and potentially being part of a group of individuals that is able to create the entrepreneurial breakthrough that will create jobs and increase economic growth,” says Wolmarans.

Charles Tshwane, an attendee at the event was buzzing with excitement at linking up with some of the other young entrepreneurs who attended the event when Small Business Connect spoke to him at the conference.

Tshwane is the founder and manager of custom-made clothing label Zebediela Gae Ga Mhlako.

He also trains and employs youth from poor communities to design, make and sell t-shirts, caps and shorts.

“The ideas that came from young people about their own money-making ventures was something not to be taken for granted. I was left very satisfied because the set-up also allowed for a lot of networking,” says Tshwane.

He says he was very impressed by the developing culture of entrepreneurship he witnessed at the conference.

Existing start-up and established young entrepreneurs listened attentively to successful business owners such as Rani.

Mike Herrington, executive director of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) also provided attendees with insight into the GEM report during a workshop.

These include students from the University of the Western Cape and also the University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) as well as Stellenbosch University.

Rani regularly supports young entrepreneurs in both the Western Cape and Eastern Cape with advice and business support.

“All you need is to be responsive to opportunities. I was supported greatly by government institutions such as the department, whose events I regularly used for networking.

Thanks to that intervention, I was able to live up to my business goals I enjoy today,” he says.

Nolitha Qhuma is a CPUT fashion graduate who runs clothing design business Rea Nubia Designs in Khayelitsha.

She says it is events like these that can help expand young people’s knowledge of business opportunities.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Charles Tshwane, feature, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Joshua Wolmarans, Luvuyo Rani, Mike Herrington, Nolitha Qhuma, Rea Nubia Designs, Silulo Ulutho Technologies, Stellenbosch University (SU), University of Cape Town (UCT), University of the Western Cape (UWC), Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT)