The rise in unemployment has made it critical for young people to consider starting up their businesses. This was the gist of Dr Oluyomi Ajayi, Chief Executive Officer of Siyacanda Energy, when he made a presented to a virtual audience that attended the inaugural International Week, which ran from 22-26 November 2021.
Dr Ajayi said that studies indicated that many young people are in favour of starting their own businesses. This is very true at MUT. MUT students have identified gaps in the market, and started their different businesses based on these facts. Nombulelo Ncube, Advanced Diploma in Human Resources student, said whilst employed at a Human Resources (HR) firm, she felt that she could do more than what she was doing there, and decided to start her own business. Nombulelo is the owner of an HR consulting business. She is one of six MUT students that took part in the International Week. The students introduced their businesses to the virtual audience. These students heeded a call from the University management, particularly Professor Marcus Ramogale, the Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal, to seriously consider starting their businesses, and become job creators. No one was born to be an employee; Professor Ramogale is known to have said.
The students are doing well under the tutelage of Ntombifuthi Mthembu, a Lecturer in the Department of Human Resources at the University. They took part in the annual EDHE (Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education) competition. Wandile Sihiya went as far as the national level of the competition. He has a business that cleans house roofs.
Emphasizing the need for students to start their businesses sooner rather than later, Dr Ajayi said all that was required was “to have a business mind-set, and not wait until you have a PhD”. He said the now powerful businesses like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc, were started by students while they were still in college. In South Africa, Keaton Harris started InforMED. This became a global winning venture. Dr Ajayi told the students not to be afraid to fail.
“Time and age are on your side”, he said. “Learn from your mistakes.”
He advised them to network with other people.
“Also, talk to your mentor, to your teacher. Just start,” he said. “There are many types of business you can start while you are still on campus.”
Mthembu said that the students needed to be given more time to look after their businesses.
Xolile Ngubane, Acting Director of the Technology Station in Chemicals at MUT, pointed out that self-employment was critical. “Entrepreneurship transforms economies. Innovation is the backbone of the modern business,” Ngubane said.
All speakers agreed that growth entrepreneurship will reduce unemployment, particularly that of unemployed graduates. They advised the South African youth to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts in Africa and the rest of the world. Dr Ajayi, a serious world traveller, said South African youth are less likely to go into business, compared to the rest of the continent’s youth.