Primestars celebrates nine years of youth entrepreneurship

Step Up 2A Start Up, the Primestars youth entrepreneurship initiative, celebrated its ninth year of operation at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on Tuesday 5, September.

Primestars celebrates nine years of youth entrepreneurship
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The milestone event united industry leaders, educators and aspiring young entrepreneurs and signified a crucial moment in the organisation’s mission to nurture sustainability and entrepreneurship among South Africa’s youth in pursuit of a green economy.

Step Up 2A Start Up is a national entrepreneurship programme focused on preparing young entrepreneurs for a changing climate through job creation, equipping high-school learners nationwide to shift from being job seekers to becoming job creators. This year’s theme, #GreenLeads2Green, is focused on using the green economy to empower and create opportunities for the youth.

The programme has reached 90 000 high school learners, involving 3 000 teachers from 1 500 under-resourced high schools across South Africa. Since its inception in 2014, the programme has harnessed an edutainment model to engage learners and teach them about entrepreneurship. After training, each learner receives a practical handbook to aid them in applying the skills that they have learned.

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The programme then transitions to the national entrepreneurship boot camp and National Youth Awards ceremony, where school teams submit and present their business solutions. This year’s event is set to take place in December, and schools stand a chance to win prizes valued at over R4 million.

In his opening remarks, Primestars founder and managing director Martin Sweet said: “The programme we are celebrating today, Step Up 2A Start Up, focuses on raising young entrepreneurs for a changing climate, dealing with both the E and the S in ESG.”

As part of the celebrations, Primestars launched the Step Up Alumni Network. Connecting previous Alumni to continuous support and offering them access to a wealth of entrepreneurial resources.

A panel discussion moderated by SAfm presenter Stephen Grootes included Anna Machaka, the CEO of Coiggy, a fin-tech start-up dedicated to enhancing financial literacy among South African youth; Brain Mlambo, managing director of BM Marketing, helping 5 000 businesses establish a digital presence; and Gontse Selaocoe, founder and CEO of All Day Jam, a thriving organic fruit jam company that is on the rise. The alumni shared their insights and experiences with fellow young entrepreneurs who attended.

Their advice was a powerful source of inspiration, said the chief marketing officer of Proudly South African, Happy Ngidi, who added: “The economy and entrepreneurship of South Africa is in good hands.”

The panellists, who started their entrepreneurial journeys as early as grade 10, oppose delaying entrepreneurship education.

In a compelling video message, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga issued a call to action to today’s youth, often referred to as ‘ama2000s’, urging them to take up the mantle in the battle against global warming. Stressing the invaluable role of the green economy, dubbing it the “new gold, oil, and platinum” and underscoring its significance for the youth of tomorrow. She emphasised the need to nurture environmental responsibility among learners, pointing out that a failure to consider the well-being of future generations exacerbates the challenges posed by global warming.

Primestars also received a membership certificate from Proudly South African. When presenting the certificate, Ngidi emphasised the importance of affiliation and collaboration, stating: “Affiliation and association are vital aspects of conducting business in this country. Many job seekers have grown disheartened due to the challenging employment landscape. Therefore, entrepreneurship must thrive and young people must be aware that it is not only possible but essential.”