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SMMES our hope for job creation – Meeko

By Masilo Malakwane

QWAQWA – Acting Free State Premier Ketso Makume has launched Youth Month with youth business pitch ahead of the celebration of the day on June16 2023.

Makume was accompanied by Destea MEC Thabo Meeko.

He also witnessed young entrepreneurs being given a chance to showcase their business ideas whereby they demonstrated their business models and feasibility to attract potential investors.

He encouraged them to utilize the stones that were thrown by the students of the 1976 uprising to build the future.

“Your responsibility is to execute the innovative ideas the same way as the group of 1976, to tackle the modern day challenges, and we will support them,” Makume said.

At the same occasion, Meeko said with current high youth unemployment in Free State, it is clear most young people will not get a formal job.

“Realistically, only a small proportion of you could potentially develop into high-growth entrepreneurs. The pitching programme is intended to instill personal and entrepreneurship excellence within Thabo Mofutsanyana district,” he said

This programme is aimed at giving young entrepreneurs in the eastern Free State an opportunity to realise their full potential in business, innovative ideas and offer opportunities for unemployed youth.

Addressing about 100 youth who attended the programme, Meeko said the youth business pitching was an inclusive resolution of the Exco aimed at instilling self-development in young entrepreneurs in a competitive world.

“We should seek to emulate the youth of 1976 who revolted against the system that sought to dehumanize them, and unite to defeat poverty today,” Meeko said.

He added that the programme should be intended to produce jobs for young Free Staters across all the districts.

“We should empower the youth with the skills to be able to build, start, and scale commercial enterprises and also to be adequately prepared as individuals to survive the challenges of building a business.”

Meeko noted that national youth unemployment rate currently stands at about 49%, and the provincial rate at 34.4%.

The youth business pitching will be rolled out to all five districts with each district having two winners: the 1st prize of R200 000 and the 2nd prize of R120 000. The two winners will go on to compete at the provincial pitching competition where a final winner will walk away with funding worth R500 000 towards their business.