Ithala Development Finance Corporation’s 2016 Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business competition recently drew to a close after the evaluation of all business concepts that were submitted.
Out of a total of 131 entries, 20 finalists were shortlisted and two winners were selected.
Ithala congratulates this year’s winners: Martin Ngcobo from Pietermaritzburg who has developed a way of making instant firewood that once burnt is converted into charcoal and Nkululeko Khumalo from Glenwood, Durban, who has invented a local delivery and transportation bicycle called the “Take Bike”, which has three wheels and is powered by a battery which is charged by kinetic or solar energy.
Inkunz’isematholeni is a flagship project launched by Ithala in 2014 in an effort to tackle unemployment by encouraging the country’s youth to consider self-employment as a job option.
The initiative attracts youth with innovative and sustainable business concepts and provides incubation and start-up in their journey to becoming seasoned entrepreneurs.
“According to Statistics South Africa, the youth unemployment rate in South Africa decreased to 53.70 percent in the second quarter of 2016 from 54.50 percent in the first quarter of 2016’” said Yvonne Zwane, Ithala Development Finance Corporation Group CEO.
“These statistics indicate that unemployment remains a major challenge for our youth and it is against this backdrop that Ithala’s Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition was established to address innovative business thinking among unemployed youth in terms of focusing on, and identifying, new concepts in the knowledge and green economies,” added Zwane.
“Think Innovation, Think Green” was the theme for this year’s competition and the submissions varied within the engineering, IT and science sectors.
The finalists were marked on the following criteria:
- Novelty of their business idea
- Viability of the technology to be implemented
- Team composition
- Commercialisation of the business idea
- National benefits (job creation).
The top 20 finalists in this year’s competition attended a five-day business development workshop facilitated by Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), one of the strategic partners of the initiative.
Thereafter, they had to resubmit their business plans from which six finalists were shortlisted for interviews and two were chosen as winners.
The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) partnered with Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business Competition to catalyse innovative and green thinking amongst youth in South Africa. The ultimate outcome of the competition is green technology businesses.
“In the months leading to the competition, we have seen a change in mind set and attitude amongst the participants which augurs well for the youth in this country. We have also seen a marked improvement in the quality of applications submitted at the semi-final stage.
“Through our partnership with Ithala, we hope to provide the winners with exposure to more advanced business training and a weeklong boot camp to Canada,” said Anitha Ramsuran, Stakeholder Relations and Communications Manager at TIA.
Nonhlanhla Khanyile, InvoTech Business Development Manager said: “Potential business ideas have been realised and identified from this competition. With full business support and mentorship from Ithala and strategic partners, the ideas will evolve into successful businesses.
“Ithala have been very professional throughout the duration of this competition and have successfully achieved the goal of the project.”
Ithala will assist the winners to turn their creative concepts into fully operational businesses by providing start-up capital and the necessary business support to help them launch, manage and run their businesses successfully.
The two lucky winners will each receive a business support package of up to R250 000 which will include:
- Aftercare programme by Technology Innovation Agency
- Aftercare programme by InvoTech
- Business Mentorship
- Product development
- Business skills development programmes
- Patenting of inventions.
For 57 years, Ithala has been spearheading initiatives aimed at enterprise development and mentorship with a focus on advancing youth and women.
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Through the Inkunz’isematholeni Youth in Business programme, Ithala is well positioned to serve emerging markets in outlying areas where a dire need for a better quality of life exists.
Over the past five years, 12 425 jobs have been created through lending activities, 873 enterprises have been assisted and loans totalling R1, 45 billion have been advanced.
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