Green entrepreneurship programme gives learners a ‘Step Up’

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The world is burning, the hour is late, the time is now for the current and future generation to chart a greener path, to harness their power and become job creators rather than job seekers. The 2023 edition of one of South Africa’s most innovative youth entrepreneurship programmes ‘Step Up 2 A Green Start Up‘ aims to empower the youth by teaching them to utilize opportunities in the green economy and create community-based business solutions.
Primestars MD Martin Sweet says: “The International Labour Organisation estimates that the green economy will create 60 million new jobs in the world by 2030, which according to data from C40 Cities includes up to 1.8 million jobs in South Africa. To develop these entrepreneurs and reduce the countrys high unemployment rate, the youth must be provided with the right tools, skills, and inspiration that will enable them to create businesses, and become gainful employers in a circular, restorative, inclusive, and clean economy.”

Since inception in 2014, the Step Up 2 A Start Up National Youth Entrepreneurship programme has successfully utilized a unique edutainment model to activate the culture and mindset of entrepreneurship in over 90 000 high school learners, 3 000 teachers, participating from over 1 500 under-resourced high schools across South Africa. .

This ground-breaking initiative targets thousands of high school learners across the country from urban, peri-urban, township and rural areas.
• The programme kicked off in August with learners being transported to various cinemas to watch an edutainment film, produced by Primestars and other key partners, called Karabo’s Kitchen. This is supplemented with a practical handbook that gives students the tools needed to succeed as social entrepreneurs. The programme then moves into its “competition phase”, featuring a national entrepreneurship boot camp and the coveted National Youth Awards ceremony which will be held in December with prizes valued at over 4-million rand.

The programme educates young people on amongst others: the importance of sustainability and how the green economy is instrumental in achieving it. The success stories of individuals, role models, businesses, and communities that are thriving in the green economy. Green industries as a career path and encourages their innovation in this regard.

2023 marks 9 years of Step Up 2 A Start Up and will see a variety of new additions such as:
• The much-anticipated launch of the #StepUpAlumni network. Our vision is to facilitate a greater and ongoing connection with new and previous beneficiaries, offer free access to valuable entrepreneurial content and support, strengthen long term tracking and facilitate engagement through mentorship, live and online connections, peer-to-peer learning, and free masterclasses.
• Secondly, the expansion of the programme to new areas particularly rural communities in outlying areas, leveraging our sought-after mobile cinema model.
• And thirdly, new strategic collaborations with partner organisations to advocate for Entrepreneurship in all schools as we continue our mission to have Entrepreneurship integrated into the South African CAPS curriculum.
• Expansion support from stakeholders including Nedbank, Sappi, EOH, Omnia, Allan and Gill Gray Philanthropies, SEDA, AECI, 3M, SAFRIPOL, BTE, Richfield, JBS, Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Seed Academy, WDB Investment Holdings, Zutari, Sizwe, BCW, Proudly South African, Mulilo, Uber, JSE, TTS, Protea Hotels, Versapak, Afrika Tikkun, Buhle Waste, Airlink, Raizcorp, Entrepreneurship Employability Education.

While the majority of entrepreneurship programmes target post-matric youth, Step Up 2 A Green Start Up initiative aims to inspire a culture of entrepreneurship and wealth creation early on in the career development process.
“We look forward to working with our sponsors as we take this spectacular programme to new heights, by transforming every school in South Africa into a thriving and sustainable entrepreneurship hub, and in so doing, pave the way to employment, equality, and prosperity for our youth,” adds Sweet.