CBZ Holdings together with Empowered Life Trust have been running the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP) for 3 consecutive years. That in itself is a big deal. We have seen a lot of high sounding corporate social responsibility gimmicks that fizzle and die soon after launch.
The programme is quite intensive. Young people who get picked go through several weeks of training and mentorship. They also have an extensive reach, taking entrepreneurs across the country’s 10 provinces. From last year they opened the programme to entrepreneurs in rural areas too.
To date 2 900 entrepreneurs have gone through the programme. 52% of them are ladies. More than 400 businesses have been registered and are functioning as a result of the programme according to CBZ. That’s a very good conversion rate and that should mean they have a strong training programme.
As part of the programme, the selected businesses compete with each other over the set period until winners are crowned at the end of the programme. The winners are given seed money to invest into their businesses. It’s really amazing to see how these small amounts make a difference and launch someone on an entrepreneurial journey.
For the current cycle, YEP has two tracks: one for businesses that have been operational for a year and beyond and the second one for startups that are at idea stage and up to 6 months of operation.
The total prize money they will give away is $31 500.
Alumni of YEP have been recognised elsewhere for their entrepreneurship. The 2017 winner, Ropafadzo Zimunya was featured in Forbes Africa and the runner up for that same year, Junior Bakasa was awarded by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce in the Manufacturing category of their annual awards held last year.
Entrepreneurship is not equal to tech
ICT has become the most recognised sector when it comes to entrepreneurship. The CBZ programme does not fall into that trap. It simply identifies businesses that are solving or seeking to solve real problems in a profitable way. Technology must not be the objective of entrepreneurship but the enabler of it.
Tech allows solutions to scale and thus it’s very important but before we get to scale, it’s important for businesses to have the right unit economics. CBZ seems to be moving that particular needle.