The City of Cape Town hosts an impactful competition each year that offers youth an opportunity to enter their business idea or existing business in a “boot camp” environment. In the context of massive youth unemployment, this competition helps raise the entrepreneurial aspirations of young people through appropriate service providers.

Three evening training sessions were available to sharpen, strengthen and test the business and pitching skills of the youth attending the course. A key factor that any person can develop is that of a positive mindset. It is particularly important to link this to entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial mindset. An entrepreneurial mindset is a specific set of beliefs, knowledge, and thought processes that drive entrepreneurial behaviour.

All of the top 10 young competitors in the existing business category displayed different attributes of this mindset over the seven-week period. The top 5 were announced at a special gala evening hosted by the City of Cape Town on Thursday June 13, ahead of Youth Day. Leaders from the business community, participating sponsors and City officials were on hand to show the commitment to youth.

Yet the focus was on the real priority, youth within two categories – business ideas and existing businesses. Ten winners from each category and their plus one were also invited. It was an achievement in its own right to get to the final, and the atmosphere was electric as the final positions were revealed.

The fifth position went to Zerzino Mullins from Mulloans (Pty) Ltd. The attribute of the entrepreneurial mindset that he displayed was that of being other-focused and understanding that one creates value by looking to solve problems for others. His business gives those with a poor credit record a second chance. With clear checks and balances in place, qualifying clients can begin to gain traction economically.

The fourth place went to Kirshnee Gounden from G-Power Aluminium. She carries the attribute of high reliability so aptly. This is where her understanding that following through on simple solutions can lead to unforeseen opportunities. Her company travels to the client; advises on the suitable product and then ensures its quality is delivered consistently.

The third place went to Yanga Ngcayisa of YNOT Health. This young man certainly models the adage of starting with yourself first. He simultaneously lost 34kg and overcame challenging depression to translate his journey into an authentic health business. The set of beliefs he implemented is that of having compelling goals that keep one future-focused and intrinsically motivated. This led to driving him to be the self-directed, action-oriented, and highly engaged individual he is.

The second place went to Katlego Montewa of Promage Consulting. He and his team have pioneered a software package for the construction industry and are also looking at developing appropriate hardware. Katlego shows the tenacious attribute of being a lifelong knowledge seeker with a focus on micro-experiments as learning opportunities to test ideas, cultivating curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. His solution to the real problem within the construction industry reflects this curiosity and creative thinking. He is someone who will always be learning.

The person who won first place in this category was Charnelle Davids of Khula Cosmetics. Affectionately known as “Coco”, this young woman consistently added value to her pitch and was the deserved overall winner. She exemplifies what it means to be knocked down, but not knocked out. To rise in spite of considerable adversity in 2023 and reframe her journey into 2024. She shows an optimistic interpretation of adverse events and sees problems as potential opportunities, and is becoming highly resilient, resourceful, and solution-oriented even within highly uncertain, resource-constrained environments.

She posted the following message on LinkedIn, and I can’t think of a more fitting encouragement to our youth: “The journey was very, very challenging. We had stick to the process and show up and literally be invested. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of intention that needed to go into it but I’m so proud of myself for showing up every single week and taking feedback to go and work on some improvements. I would really love to encourage the youth, ‘Never ever give up on your dreams. Do not let anyone tell you no before you have decided for yourself’. Show up for yourself. You can do it because if you can do it then you can always do it. Put God in the centre of it all. I am so grateful for support from all those involved with the program, especially from the City of Cape Town. I have made connections that will literally last a lifetime.”

‘Never ever give up on your dreams. Do not let anyone tell you no before you have decided for yourself’