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Incubators offer hope for budding entrepreneurs

Incubators offer hope for budding entrepreneurs

Six years ago Themba Khumalo dropped out of high school and started making hand-pressed bricks on an empty municipal lot. He heard about the Awethu Project on the radio, joined the incubator and was selected for its investment fund for small businesses.

At the age of 23, Khumalo now employs 22 people and produces 13,000 bricks a day.

With the unemployment rate increasing to 26.4% in the first quarter of this year from 24.3% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Statistics SA’s quarterly labour force survey, and a staggering 42% of people under the age of 30 unemployed, SA needs many more entrepreneurs like Khumalo.

“We want to make sure that these stories are not so rare. They are real and possible with our model,” says Gareth Taylor, who runs Awethu incubator, speaking on a panel at the recent Trialogue CSI Conference 2015.

Creating jobs via an incubator is a costly process, and the selection of the entrepreneurs to work with is crucial.

“It takes the same resources to invest in someone who will create 10 jobs as someone who will create one job,” says Taylor. “For social impact, it is important to identify those individuals who are going to go on to create a sustainable business that can employ 20 or 30 people.”

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