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Plug pulled on youth chamber competition

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Some delegates who attended the NCYCCI provincial conference in July are now demanding a leadership re-election

Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

A YOUTH entrepreneurship competition that would be run by the Northern Cape Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industries has been derailed after the Department of Economic Development and Tourism turned down a request to set aside R3 million for the prizes.

The Northern Cape Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industries (NCYCCI) approached the provincial Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism to partner with it in hosting the Diamonds in the Rough project youth entrepreneurship competition in May last year.

The competition, which would be open to entrants between the ages of 18 to 35 years, aimed to assist young, promising entrepreneurs in the Province to create sustainable businesses and equip them with access to skills, finances and access to markets.

In his reply, the small business development executive manager Darryl Christians requested the NCYCCI to get involved in raising funds for the project, “either through financial or non-financial sponsorship”, and to approach both the private and public sector to “add value” to the project.

According to the proposal, the cost to organise, market and run the competition was R900 940.

Prize money for the regional and provincial winners would be paid out to the value of R3.5 million and expenses for awards gala material, including gift packs, the design of the programme and video photography and photography, would amount to R177 500.

The provincial gala awards ceremony would have taken place on November 10 2017.

The senior communications manager at the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Thandiwe Modibela, on Friday indicated that the Diamonds in the Rough (DIR) project was the brainchild of the NCYCCI.

“The youth chamber approached the department with this initiative as it wished to implement projects as agreed to in the signed memorandum of understanding. The NCYCCI was assigned to work with small business development executive manager Darryl Christians in implementing the agreement.”

Modibela explained that the request was specifically directed at contributing towards the prizes in the business plan competition and targeting the youth as part of the Economic Growth and Development Fund (EGDF) facility of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

“A breakdown of the estimated funding was provided.

“The NCYCCI wanted to ensure that young SMME entrepreneurs benefited and that the prize money was paid out to the regional and provincial winners through a structured project like the Diamonds in the Rough project.”

Modibela added that a submission was submitted to the office of the head of department requesting approval for R3 million to be set aside in the EGDF.

“This would be paid out in respect of R500 000 for the business plan competition in each district and R500 000 for the prizes for the provincial competition.”

She indicated that a decision was taken in March this year not to approve the funding.

“The R3 million was then used in the EGDF 2017/18 process and was utilised to fund businesses that were successful in the 2017/18 EGDF cycle.”

Modibela stated that the first phase of holding entrepreneurship workshops throughout the Province was completed

“The second phase could not proceed as it involved the EGDF committing funds for the regional and provincial prize winnings. Phase 3, referred to as Club 75, entailed an enterprise and supplier development programme for between 75 to 100 youth entrepreneurs that entered the competition but could not occur since there was no business plan competition. Thereafter it would have been impossible to identify the youth entrepreneurs.”

She indicated that all contributions allocated to the project were made “in-kind”.

“No funding was approved for the project, the request was submitted and declined. The only funds that were approved by the small business development executive manager was for catering that was provided at the entrepreneurship training workshops.”

She explained that the date for the provincial gala awards ceremony was “never cast in stone”.

“Originally it was proposed that it take place in June 2017 – during Youth Month – but due to a lack of commitment to the project from the stakeholders, the project timelines kept being shifted.”

Some delegates who attended the NCYCCI provincial conference in July are now demanding a leadership re-election.

They believed that the current leadership was misusing their positions to enrich themselves, instead of promoting the interests of the youth.

“If the current leaders are not removed, there will be an uprising.”

Delegates last week indicated that while R1.8 million was spent on the conference, the accommodation fees had still not been paid.

“All payments for the conference went through a travel agency linked to officials at the department. Guest speakers invited to address the provincial conference, high-ranking officials from the department and advisers who had assisted in arranging the event were rudely addressed and prevented by foreign national security guards at the entrance.”

Victor Segami from Warrenton claimed that he was supposed to have been elected as the deputy chairperson in the Magareng region, but was instead forced out after he was accused of being “a sell-out.”