In a world continually bedevilled by a myriad of crises, learners need empowerment to transform theoretical knowledge into innovative and practical solutions, organizers of a High School entrepreneurship competition have said.
Emergination Africa, a non-profit organization that supports young entrepreneurs with mentorship and seed capital amounting to US$5 000, is set to host the fourth edition of its National Business Case Competition on September 28.
The event, set to be held in Bulawayo, is a culmination of a 6 to 12 month venture development program, which will see 10 school teams each from the country’s provinces pitch their solutions to various social and economic challenges facing the country.
“We have moved from an era where education was simply meant to give you a job, we are now looking at a model where we are expecting learners, through their education, to actually create employment for themselves and their communities,” the organization’s programs officer Tendai Dzinoreva said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
Since its inception four years ago, Emergination Africa and its partners have assisted 13 business ventures, born from students’ ideas, come into fruition.
“We as Emergination Africa are taking a risk of investing in these young entrepreneurs and what we are also doing is helping them start up their businesses,” Emergination country coordinator Farai Mushawasha said.
“We are giving them US$5 000 (and) it may be a lot of money if you are looking at them being high school students but when it comes to setting up a business it is really a small drop, the goal is to prepare them to be investor ready.”
The competition comes at a time the country’s unemployment rate is ranked among the highest across the world albeit with varied statistics.
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According to macrotrends.net, unemployment refers to “the share of the labour force that is without work but available for and seeking employment”.
A first quarter labour force survey released by the Zimbabwe national statistics agency (ZimStat) in April this year revealed that more than 2,8 million people of working age are unemployed.
“Africa is suffering from a huge employment deficit, so the best way is to be able to really develop learners who are able to think beyond getting employed,” said Dzinoreva, adding:
“A lot of problems that we are facing globally need solutions, the only way to do it is to critically think around turning those solutions into actual businesses and as Emergination Africa we have realized that it works with high school students.”
The National Business Case Competition is also in line with the government’s Education 5.0 model, which aims to transform the education system from being theory-based to being practice-oriented.
The model, adopted half a decade ago, has five missions including teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation.
“What I have learnt from Emergination Africa’s model is it has improved my entrepreneurial education, I have managed to get the reality of how entrepreneurship should be run in schools through training,” says Manhanga, a local teacher, who has led two teams to the final stages of the competition so far.
While the most exceptional from this edition will now go before a highly qualified panel in a bid to secure US$5 000 seed capital, Emergination Africa has set its eyes on an ultimate goal to support and nurture 360 ventures across Africa by 2027.
“That is the vision, quite ambitious, but we believe in the collaboration that we are having with partners finding this space to be important. We want to nurture young entrepreneurs and we believe that we can achieve this milestone,” says Mushawasha.