Barriers to youth entrepreneurship: a systemic approach.
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Research was conducted amongst male and female participants on an entrepreneurship project named SHAPE (Shifting Hope, Activating Potential Entrepreneurship). The SHAPE project, initiated in response to the high youth unemployment rate in South Africa, is a systemic action learning action research project which seeks to assist prospective youth entrepreneurs by fostering their entrepreneurial intent or helping them start a business. Although the intermediaries, also seen as support structures, were set out to develop student entrepreneurs, the student entrepreneurs encountered several barriers when dealing with these intermediaries including: 1) external systemic barriers that influence youth entrepreneurs (personal barriers), 2) educational institutions, 3) government agencies, 4) private sector agencies, 5) communities, 6) small to medium-sized business, and 7) large businesses and corporates. The objective in investigating these barriers was to find ways to overcome obstacles that participants experienced and apply these solutions to entrepreneurship programmes and projects. The sample population was all project participants in the 2014–2015 SHAPE project, of which 60 were second-year university students. In exploring these barriers student entrepreneurs encountered in relation to systemic intermediaries the researcher adopted a deductive approach aimed at testing the theory, which was based on responses from the study population from a questionnaire, data analysis, interpretations of findings, and conclusions from the findings. A seven- point Likert scale was used to capture the participants’ responses with two scales types. A pilot test was conducted to determine reliability and validity of the tool. The findings suggest that the majority of participants graduated and progressed into employment or postgraduate studies, showing that SHAPE had a positive impact on its participants. The conclusion drawn from this study is that the most significant barriers are personal barriers in relation to systemic intermediaries, in that youth aspirants have limited self-leadership and a complacent approach towards entrepreneurship. It is lack of creativity that prevents them from solving business problems or starting a business, rather than problems emanating from external intermediaries. The significance of this study is that it provides useful knowledge in regard to youth entrepreneurship and shows that further research is called for on interrelation between internal and external barriers experienced by youth entrepreneurs. This research may provide useful knowledge to overcome barriers in the next SHAPE project cycle.