KEETMANSHOOP - //Kharas Region has set aside an amount of N$64 000 in prize money to encourage youth to innovate and develop business ideas or to upscale their businesses.
Entries for the golden chance for young entrepreneurs to innovate and develop business ideas closed last Saturday.
Young //Kharas business owners will now have a chance to pitch their business ideas for the ultimate prize of N$15 000 for each overall winner in the start-up and expanding business categories, while the third runners-up will also receive an amount between N$7000 and N$2000, in addition to free business mentoring for ten best pitches for a year.
//Kharas Youth Entrepreneurship Development Program (KYEDP) spokesperson MacDonald Christiaan said the response from the youth in the region has been amazing, as over 50 entries were received from Lüderitz, Keetmanshoop, Tses, Karasburg, Oranjemund and Bethanie.
He said while the closing date for entries already lapsed, his phone has been abuzz with calls from many people wanting to enter the competition, and this, he said, was testimony that young people have ideas to do things if presented with opportunities to do so.
“We hope to see others inspired by their fellow peers to start doing something for themselves,” he said, adding that the entries received also varied in terms of businesses the youth do or want to do, with some wanting to go into chicken farming, arts academy, property development and tour guiding.
Christiaan explained that the program is different from other initiatives that are aimed at assisting young entrepreneurs in a sense that it provides training, funds, as well as mentorship to ensure that the youth know how and what to do with the funds received.
He said many of the initiatives do not have a mentoring aspect and therefore many business ideas fail. He noted that unlike other programs where funds are allocated on a loan basis, young people will not need to pay back the money but only need to work and deserve it through the pitch competition.
“What makes this unique is we do not have a loan element, which usually just put young people in unnecessary debt, and we train and mentor them, with the most important element being financial literacy. You cannot give me money and not teach me how to handle it,” he said.
The young entrepreneurs will battle it out in a pitch competition from 8 to 12 October, while the next round which will be bigger with about 150 participants, is also on the cards already.