Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

Junior Achievement South Africa

Experiential entrepreneurship skills development for unemployed youth

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 24 July, 2013 - 18:00


Junior Achievement, South Africa’s unique, entrepreneurship skills program aims to address the country’s huge youth unemployment challenge. This intensive, incubator-style project not only provides practical entrepreneurial skills but also traditional workplace readiness skills.

The target audience for this program are young adults aged 18 to 35 years, who are not in school and are unemployed. ITS TYME is an intensive three to four month program during which students meet once or twice a week for three hours.

This learning brief discusses how the success of our program has benefited from (1) its well-planned design and use of good course material, and formal structures; (2) the recruitment of capable managers and competent facilitators; (3) the careful selection of candidates/students; (4) and the investment in small groups of youth.


  • We have developed a comprehensive program manual and facilitator guide, which includes motivational speakers, videos as well as field trips.
  • We use make use of group activities and videos to maintain the students interest and to appeal to different learning styles.
  • A very strict attendance policy is enforced; only 3 absences are allowed.
  • The program includes traditional workplace readiness skills, life skills, financial literacy and banking and saving. These activities involve real hands-on, experiential learning. 
  • Participants form small businesses. They select managers, complete market research to determine a product or service that will sell in their community, manufacture the product, and finally share in the profits. In so doing, they learn how to start and run their own business in a practical way.


  • A good manager and competent facilitators is key to the success of the training program. Conduct a thorough search to find high quality facilitators and a good manager and pay them well.
  • The Manager should have some business experience, be adaptable and initiative, be able to think on his/her feet, and be able to motivate and retain the interest of the students.
  • The facilitators must also share these qualities but in addition they should be flexible in the delivery of the program material, as some groups of students need longer time on some topics than do others. Facilitators must be patient and able to identify the different pedagogical needs of the students.


In order to enhance the program experience for each student, we have found that the optimum student number in one group is between 15 and 25. Too large a group does not allow for full engagement and students then lose interest. As such we also accept no more than 35 students per cohort year onto our program.


  • Partner with other organisations to help recruit ideal candidates. Any partner selected to assist in the recruitment of students, and to assist in program delivery, has to be one that is already engaging young people of this particular age group in development programs.
  • We select participants on the basis of their commitment to the program, their propensity to engage in entrepreneurial activity, their ability to demonstrate thinking skills, and their commitment to their own personal development.
  • The best program candidates are those who have demonstrated a desire for self-development.
  • Students who have a job, are studying, or are otherwise fully engaged are not suitable candidates, given the demands placed on their time.
  • All applicants will be required to complete an entrepreneurial quiz in an attempt to determine their entrepreneurial capacity and propensity.


Before starting any similar entrepreneurship-training program it is vital not to assume that all young, unemployed people will be committed to learning how to start and run a business. If you just accept any interested student into your program you will have a high dropout rate, which is a wasted investment. Begin selection during the recruitment stage, by determining the propensity of potential candidates to start their own business. This will ensure the recruitment of suitable students.

Targeting out-of-school, unemployed youth is extremely challenging and those who wish to do so need to understand that it is not smooth sailing through the program. However, the potential for this demographic group to play an active role in the economy, through small business development, is huge and worth the investment of time and money. But invest wisely. It is very gratifying to see young people learn and grow, and get excited when they make their first sale.

132 Fox Street, Marshalltown, Johannesburg

 (011) 331 3150


In Short

In this learning brief Junior Achievement South Africa offers four lessons emerging from its youth entrepreneurship program. It discusses the program design, materials used, as well as selection of youth participants. 

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