OPINION: A growing push for youth to get business opportunities in tourism

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OPINION: A growing push for youth to get business opportunities in tourism

Acting CEO for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Phindile Makwakwa.

February 17, 2019
By Phindile Makwakwa
DURBAN – A major push is underway for the youth to get business opportunities in the growing tourism sector as financial funding from government intensifies allowing for more entrepreneurs to enter into the market, writes Phindile Makwakwa, Acting Chief Executive Officer for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.
More youth are turning to the tourism and hospitality industry as an exciting and rewarding business, encouraged by improved exposure to information on the workings of and opportunities in the sector.
Government outlay of funding from entities such as the National Empowerment Fund, Department of Trade and Industry, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Youth Development Agency, among others, has provided the platform to facilitate black economic participation for financial and non-financial support to black empowered businesses.
The injection towards youth- based funding creates an inclusive tourism economy bringing in youth and women, supporting the development of community- based tourism, thereby stimulating job creation, sector transformation, economic empowerment, community benefit and geographic spread of tourism investment.
But sadly, for many aspiring hoteliers or B&B owners, we found at Tourism KZN, for instance, for the young (categorised as being aged from 18-35) the dream of running their own hospitality business, even a small one, is out of reach as they simply do not have the funding.
Recently an announcement was made of the introduction of the KZN Youth Fund, setting aside R50 million, enabling those who want to start businesses, including tourism and hospitality to get the necessary seed funding.
Administered by the KZN Growth Fund, successful applicants can access funding ranging from R50 000 to R2-million, identifying a huge gap in youth business financial aid.  But also filling the gap where youth can bring new and innovative ideas that catapult our sector to new heights.
The new fund, will be a lifeline to young entrepreneurs who do not qualify for bank loans as they do not have credit history and collateral. It will finance assets as required by viable existing enterprises, enabling them to conduct their operations successfully.
The fund aims to help deserving young entrepreneurs to kick-start their business ventures, fund new innovative business ideas and to expand their existing businesses without the red tape associated with the traditional ways of accessing funding.
It bridges the gap by speeding up the funding process, especially for those businesses in the rural areas.
As well as being able to access the necessary funding, successful applicants would also get support and constant coaching, help with a business plan and get involved in exchange programmes.
The fund would support start-up companies to minimize the liability of newness, and get them into the mainstream economy.
As the lack of entrepreneurial skills is another constraint facing the youth, successful applicants will also be mentored for a minimum of two years to ensure the sustainability of their new businesses during the critical start-up phase. Tourism KZN encourages youth in tourism to utilise this opportunity provided by the fund.
Tourism KZN has offers training in various areas to support emerging tourism entrepreneurs ranging from Finance Management, Customer Care, Hospitality with key industry players such as the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA).
The youth in tourism sector is growing. It is critical to encourage creative, young entrepreneurs to explore the industry. Although the larger operators benefit by tourism growth, there is room for fresh ideas to expand on what’s available for visitors to enjoy, especially those millennial travellers, who are our new tourists.
For more information on the Youth Fund, write to kznyouthfund@kznpremier.gov.za or kznyouthfund@kznedtea.gov.za. Applications close on February 28, 2019
Phindile Makwakwa is the Acting Chief Executive Officer for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.

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