Entrepreneurship vs youth unemployment
A wake-up call on the high levels of unemployment in the country, was sounded when youths in large numbers converged for the limited vacancies that were offered in the selection of trainee soldiers to be recruited in the Zambia Army in Lusaka.
In Mpulungu, the situation was led bare when a company in fishing industries attempted to recruit some women which resulted into a stampede.
These incidents and others give an insight of the magnitude of the problem at hand and this is a challenge to Government to fight unemployment especially among the youth.
However it is gratifying to note that, the Zambian Government has swiftly responded to these challenges in a number of ways which cannot go without being noticed.
The Government has responded by ensuring that small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) and those who want to venture into small businesses are availed with capital as part of the solutions to unemployment level.
Last year, more than KR11 million was released for the youth business projects countrywide and this was in an effort to promote entrepreneurship among the youth.
The hope of Government is that while it is doing so, at the same time those businesses would be creating employment for others and improving the economy.
This year the Government through the Ministry of Youth has increased this allocation to the tune of more than KR19 million for the same purpose.
The Government through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) this year has come up with plans to create clusters in each province to redirect the value addition industries to create employment and encourage secondary industries to promote export-oriented products.
It is worthwhile to mention that people who have travelled outside the country have witnessed how those countries which they visited have turned around their economies through entrepreneurship.
The visit by Vice-President Guy Scott and the recent one by President Michael Sata to China have given them an insight of the entrepreneurial spirit in as far as improving the economy is concerned.
It is encouraging to note that part of the proceeds of the first Eurobond which the Government issued on the international capital markets was directed towards the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) to lend SMEs.
This funding would be used to provide credit facilities to SMEs.
The US$20 million which is equivalent to KR104,511,200 would be provided to more than 100 SMEs whose annual turnover range from KR50,000 to KR5 million according to the Press statement released by the bank.
However these funds could only be accessed by the SMEs after meeting the bank’s lending criteria.
Women entrepreneurs in the country have also called on the Government to be recognised in the area of financing so that the efforts being imputed into entrepreneurship can be noticed.
Apart from business ideas that are indentified in the businesses that are earmarked for funding especially by the governments, the other important ingredient is training in business management.
Many small businesses are failing today because of this component of business.
The Ministry of Youth and Sport, CEEC and DBZ should ensure that the strong points on which releasing of funds to recipients should have proper understanding of business procedures and management.
Business procedures range from how to form and register a business, how to adhere to Government statutory obligations, how to keep financial records, how to understand and read a balance sheet and how to interpret financial reports.
Giving money to entrepreneurs without grounding them into these business principle may result in money misuse in which the Government may not achieve its intended goal of creating employment and empowering the youth.
It is, therefore, important that entrepreneurial skills become an integral part of these processes to achieve the intended goal and purpose.
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