YOUTH Entrepreneurs Forum (YEF) President Thaele Makhetha says budding Basotho businesspeople stand to benefit from the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs- Southern Africa (CAYE-SA).
CAYE-SA which will be formally launched in August this year, will support young African entrepreneurs as they seek to boost youth employment, contribute to trade, and support the Sustainable Development Goals, recognising that young people play an important role in wealth creation and poverty reduction.
Representatives of national youth entrepreneurship organizations from Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia last month resolved to form the alliance to tackle rising youth unemployment levels in the region.
Mr Makhetha, who represented Lesotho at the meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia, said they discussed ways in which the youth can proactively engage in entrepreneurial ventures across the region.
The meeting was organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which is encouraging entrepreneurship as a pragmatic strategy to address the spiraling unemployment and positively harness young peoples’ potential among its member states.
“The resolution to form the alliance was influenced by the realisation that youth unemployment has become a major crisis in the world,” he said.
“According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and almost 73 million youth are seeking employment opportunities.”
Mr Makhetha said most young people, especially in the developing world, faced few prospects of obtaining employment in the formal sector.
“So, the main vision of the alliance is to build a strong network of young entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.”
He said the alliance would enable Basotho entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities within member states.
“The advent of the alliance brings changes to the plight of our young entrepreneurs. After the formation and launch of the alliance, Lesotho youths will be able to do business with their counterparts in other countries, which means they will be able to explore opportunities in other countries in the region,” said Mr Makhetha.
Issues relating to the implementation of the alliance mandate, he said, would come to light after the official launch in August this year.
CAYE-SA comes after CAYE- Asia which was formed in 2011. Since its establishment, CAYE-Asia managed to bring together national networks of young entrepreneurs to engage with the government, the private sector, the media and other stakeholders to champion the cause of youth entrepreneurship at the local, national, and international level, and drive trade and good entrepreneurship practice and education within and beyond the region.
In her remarks during the meeting last month, Commonwealth Secretariat Director of Youth, Katherin Ellis, said CAYE-SA would play a role in building human capital, unleashing the economic potential of young people and promoting sustainable growth and development.
“As well as driving trade within and across borders, this new coalition will give the young entrepreneurs a voice with policy-makers to enhance the youth entrepreneurship environment, and a peer network for support and sharing of experiences and good practice,” she said.
“The southern African region has so many passionate and talented young entrepreneurs, all hungry to grow their businesses and contribute to their countries prosperity.”