As is reflected in South Africa’s alarming level of youth unemployment, one of the biggest challenges facing Millennials is finding a job. With the need to create more new employers and more opportunities for others, should Millennials be following the path to entrepreneurship?
ACCORDING to the 2014 GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP MONITOR (GEM) SOUTH AFRICA REPORT, 7.0% of the adult population in South Africa is engaged in entrepreneurship, while 2.7% already own or manage an established business. It also reveals that for every 10 adult males engaged in entrepreneurship there are eight females.
From this report we also learn that the typical South African entrepreneur is male, between the ages of 25 and 44, lives in an urban area, is involved in the retail and wholesale sector, and has a secondary or tertiary level of education.
Based on the report’s findings, it is safe to say that South Africa needs more male and female Millennials (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) to consider starting businesses. The reason for this is that the biggest challenge this group faces is finding jobs and/or opportunities, hence the alarming level of youth unemployment.
Education plays a significant role in starting a new business and Millennials, unlike generations before, have more access to education. Moreover, Millennials are tech savvy and possess IT skills that are a must have for any business start-up. Currently, 28% of South Africans start businesses because they do not have another option for work – they are known as ‘necessity entrepreneurs’.
In this day and age, we need to create more new employers that will create more job opportunities for others. The challenge begins after graduation when the majority of graduates opt to seek employment instead of starting a business. Some graduates even settle for career paths different from their field of academic study, while others eventually give up and end up sitting at home. Our society is in dire need of ‘opportunity entrepreneurs’ who can identify an opportunity to start a growing business that, in return, will create employment for others.
The majority of Millennials are risk takers and dream chasers, willing to make mistakes and learn from them. A generation that has been constantly overcoming obstacles and has gained tremendous amounts of bravery, boldness and confidence growing up. This generation is distinctive and open minded. Millennials believe in lifelong self-development and growth. A wealth of information is available at the Entrepreneurs Growth Centre (0861 SMEFIN) for this purpose.
Millennials are also entering into what THE FUTURE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP: MILLENNIALS AND BOOMERS CHART THE COURSE FOR 2020 REPORT refers to as the traditional ‘peak age’ bracket – around 40 – for entrepreneurship.
Millennials are resilient, assertive go-getters and fall into the 35.5% of adults in South Africa who identify good opportunities to start businesses. This compared to 25.4% of adults who are prevented from starting businesses because of fear of failure.
A prosperous future for Millennials in entrepreneurship begins with establishing a locally desirable idea, ensuring it is clear and simple for people to understand, it is relevant and provides a needed service or product, and that they identify mentorship from knowledgeable and supportive people. It is of utmost importance to maintain focus on acquiring and maintaining customers by fulfilling on a promise to provide a quality product at a value proposition. Following this mantra will allow the entrepreneur to do good for the community in which they operate while doing well (making financial, social and emotional profit) for themselves.