The 2019 Step Up 2 A Start Up and Smartbucks National Youth Awards were celebrated during a prestigious lunch ceremony held on Wednesday at the Silverstar Casino in Muldersdrift.
Private and public sector stakeholders gathered to celebrate the achievements of young South Africans who are determined to make a difference in their communities through technologically aligned businesses which are anchored by sound financial decisions.
Now in its 6th year The National Youth Awards have proven to be one of the leading youth entrepreneurship and financial literacy initiatives impacting the lives of young people.
The Awards ceremony was a culmination of a five-month entrepreneurship development programme and competition targeted at 12 000 high school learners made possible by key sponsors including Sasol, the MTN Foundation, Tsogo Sun, Liberty and Omnia with the support of SEDA.
The theme for the 2019 Step Up 2 A Start Up and Smartbucks programmes was “Think Tech. Do Business” and it encouraged learners to embrace technology as a platform for small business creation.
The journey began in August when thousands of Grade 9-11 learners attended screenings at Ster Kinekor Cinemas nationwide to learn about tech entrepreneurship and financial literacy, through the Step Up 2 A Start Up & Smartbucks programmes.
This year, the financial literacy and entrepreneurship programmes were combined to help learners understand that mastering one’s personal finance is a foundational step towards handling a successful business.
The lessons were activated through nationwide screenings of two films. The financial literacy movie takes us on the journey of a varsity student who ends up in debt because she made bad financial decisions.
By following basic financial principles such as saving, budgeting and investing which are taught in the movie, the main protagonist can achieve financial freedom. The entrepreneurship movie tells a story of a group of friends who start a lucrative business by using resources available to them.
“This year’s theme “Think Tech, Do Business” aligns with government’s goal of technological advancement in education and aims to help South African youth harness technology to develop solutions and business models that help accelerate development, improve living standards and foster inclusive growth,” said Martin Sweet, Managing Director at Primestars.
At the cinema, learners received toolkits which reinforced the lessons communicated throughout the movie. The toolkit assisted learners in implementing the skills learned to develop their own business ideas and model canvasses to enter the Step Up 2 A Start Up Tech Entrepreneurship Competition.
With input from industry leaders and experts, the top nine entrepreneurial teams in South Africa that demonstrated the most innovative tech-enabled business models were identified to take up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend an intensive three-day Entrepreneurship Boot Camp hosted at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg.
This led to the teams presenting their business models to a panel of judges in hopes of winning some of the amazing prizes and, of course, officially becoming the 2019 Step Up Young Entrepreneurs of the Year.
All finalists were awarded prizes comprising of bursaries, business incubation, cash and gadgets, amongst others.
The ceremony also included the awarding of the 2019 Primestars Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi. We recognized him, for his selfless contribution towards sustaining educational programmes in South Africa.
“The impact that Smartbucks and Step Up 2 A Start Up is making in the lives of our youth is made possible by our wonderful corporate sponsors who, through their participation, are building our youth, changing futures and ensuring that in this disruptive digital age, no-one is left behind,” said Sweet.
Also present at the event was Abey Tau from Sasol who said “Sasol has a keen interest in instilling an entrepreneurial mind set in scholars because we see that the country needs small businesses in various communities to boost the economy, and the best way to do so is to create a pool of small businesses able to absorb a large population of unemployed youth.”
Echoing these sentiments, General Manager of MTN SA Foundation, Kusile Mtundzi-Hairwadzi said, “We are pleased to be part of this initiative that cultivates and nurtures entrepreneurship. At MTN, we believe in harnessing the power of our brand and technologies to foster entrepreneurship, particularly among young people.”
Tracey Unser, Group Executive for Corporate Citizenship at Liberty expressed her gratitude for what the Smartbucks programme has managed to achieve over the years. “A lack of proper financial literacy is still a huge concern in South Africa. Consumers young and old still struggle to demonstrate a strong grasp of basic financial management principle; As a result, they are unable to manage their finances properly to avoid being over indebted. The Smartbucks programme seems to have found a formula that delivers financial literacy in an effective manner that appeals perfectly to the youth.”