Unemployment vs. Entrepreneurship:
How Young South Africans are Creating Their Own Means of Survival
3 Minute Read
With all its freedoms and independence, adulting is no walk in the park. Most humans can only dream of the life they truly want. While poverty, homelessness and other socio-economic issues constantly remind them how grateful they should be, to at least be employed.
It’s hard to see what options are available when you’re unemployed – Sibu Mabena
In a society where half the population live below the poverty line, opinions and realities about unemployment are tense and uncomfortably polarising. For some, living conditions have significantly improved since the Apartheid era. While more than 16.5 million others are still struggling to find employment.
On the bright side of these stats, many young hustlers have managed to beat these odds, and essentially create their own means of survival. Among these are the creative entrepreneurs, who have built businesses around their own talents or the things they love to do.
I’ve never made a CV – Amahle Jaxa
And while everything may appear perfect from outside South Africa’s small (but growing) circle of creative entrepreneurs, the J&B Hive invited 4 such pioneers to tell us the facts in a panel discussion about the future of entrepreneurship.
- Jaxx Amahle from Until Until
- Landa Willie from Twenty Mag
- Lesedi Ngema from The Good Guys Agency
- Sibu Mabena from Duma Collective
Much like in digital businesses, most Creative Entrepreneurs have to start with what they have. Whether it’s learning from their job, gathering capital from family/ friends or using their immediate community as a target market for their venture.
Since creative entrepreneurship is a relatively new concept, most starters find it difficult to access valuable information about their ventures or industries. This information could be related to business opportunities, operating models or the law regarding these.
In addition, creative entrepreneurs find it more difficult to convince investors and banks to trust them with funding, especially when they lack a proven track record. Young, African businesswomen especially, face all of these challenges and more on their way to entrepreneurial success.
As a female entrepreneur, you constantly have to pay your dues. – Landa Willie
How Business Has Adapted
In addition to the above gems, our panel shared 6 ways their businesses have adapted since they started. As well as some of the most valuable lessons they still operate by today.
- Whereas most brands come to situations and attempt to change them. Sometimes you find that LEARNING a community/ audience’s way of life is the key to entering their markets.
- It takes a considerable amount of effort to NOT get exploited. Be especially aware of complicated payment structures.
- Instead of constantly playing it safe. Set aside an amount and learn to take (very calculated) risks as your confidence in doing business grows.
- Learn to setup and negotiate your own payment structures/contracts that specifically work for your company.
- Unfortunately, you can’t do everything yourself. At some point, your company’s growth will depend on trusting other people with the tasks you no longer have time to perform.
- Finance, project management software and processes are crucial to the growth of your business.
We made R24 000 off our first cheque and blew it at the club. I still regret it to this day. – Amahle Jaxx
While we’re all seeking our own ways to survive and maintain, creative entrepreneurship certainly holds one of our best chances at balancing our needs with the freedom to do what truly satisfies us.This article has simply touched on some of the possibilities of ‘creative entrepreneurship’. A quick google search should get you started on learning about what it’s really like out there.
For more creative hustlings and thought-pieces, hug @hivejoburg and keep checking our blog for more articles. Also, feel free to tell us how we can improve (in the comments below).
Written by: Lungelo Hlela (I am Multeemedia) // Images taken by: @dayphotolife
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Lungelo Hlela is a Digital Copywriter based in Johannesburg, South Africa. When he’s not writing for brands, most of his work includes themes about social issues, history and popular culture. Follow him @lungelosam for more of his existentialist ramblings and romantic ideals.