25 students have won prizes worth R6M at the Primestars Annual Youth Ceremony held this week in Johannesburg. The winning team called Green World, developed a concept of turning mine waste into building material.
This year, 11 513 scholars were challenged to find opportunities in the green economy, through the provision of practical processes that young entrepreneurs can follow to start their green businesses. Participants, who come from under-resourced schools across the country, were tasked with producing business ideas serving local needs and solving environmental problems. Ten teams (25 learners in total) were selected as finalists and pitched their ideas to sponsors after spending three days on a business bootcamp in early December.
Some of the ideas presented at the Dragon’s Den-style event included an app that helps community members buy and sell clothes, and an environmentally friendly chemical to dissolve sanitary pads and pampers. Nakampe Molewa, UberEats’ regional GM of sub-Saharan Africa, joined other sponsors in praising the learners’ concepts.
“What I particularly like about these submissions is the teams’ social cause; their conscientious effort to do something about a problem that they see in their community,” he said. “It just shows that for this age group it’s not just about TikTok and Instagram just being used for entertainment. I find it fascinating that you get a young group of people like this who are actively looking at tech to solve big problems like recycling.”
With COVID protocols followed, the finalists and their teachers (nine in total) gathered at The Houghton Hotel for the awards.
Prizes for learners included three Bachelor of Business Administration bursaries from Regenesys Business School; Higher Certificate programme bursaries from Regent Business School; bursaries from the Johannesburg Business School and from Richfield, access to business incubator Razicorp’s P3 programme; and access to Seed Academy’s internship programme. Prizes for teachers included an invitation to attend Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Ignite Africa Summit.
Other prizes included a bursary at Richfielld worth R112 600 for all 10 shortlisted teams and students and teachers all received tablets courtesy of Sizwe IT. In total the list of bursaries and prizes received by participants total a stunning R6 million.
At the event Martin Sweet, MD of Primestars, said that a combination of a green economy transition and entrepreneurship support can pave the way to unlock economic value, fight climate change and improve human wellbeing.
“South African youth must take advantage of the many opportunities that the Green economy provides. To reduce our high unemployment rate, they will need to learn the skills and develop the competencies that will enable them to create businesses and become gainful employers in a circular, restorative, inclusive and clean economy. Our initiative, Step Up 2 A Green Start Up, talks to these goals,” said Sweet.
“As we reach yet another incredible milestone in our Step Up 2 A Start-Up journey, I would again like to thank our wonderful sponsors. You truly are heroes who helped start the fires of enterprise, igniting new businesses, glowing with entrepreneurial passion and purpose, resulting in a low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive planet,” he concluded .