The ASPIRE Youth Capital Challenge, is a sub-component of the European Union funded; Sustainable Partnership for Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Climate Change (SPARC). It is a collaboration between Bulembu Ministries; Montigny (Usutu Forest Products Company (UFPC)) and Catalyze with the following overall goal: “to develop sustainable and inclusive growth in Eswatini by creating opportunities in renewable energy and for youth through the promotion of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment”.
Youth unemployment is at an all-time high with as many as 60% unable to find formal employment. Many of the 7000 annual graduates complete their education with no prospects of securing employment given the negative GDP growth trajectory and limited skills and experience acquired which meet current industry requirements. Many youths are forced into entrepreneurship activities for which they are ill prepared; lacking financial acumen, business training and access to capital to start such ventures. Market knowledge is limited, with youth unaware of opportunities within the agricultural sector aside from core production practices.
Whilst they may have an idea or will to engage in such ventures within the sector, most lack skills to develop viable business plans and execute on such. With the combination of Bulembu’s value-chain enablement and both local and export market connections and Catalyze’s experience in MSME and entrepreneurship development, SPARC will help develop aspiring youth’s visions into reality. Financial institutions are unwilling to capitalize the youth as they lack experience, have no or limited collateral to support loans and are a high credit risk thereby escalating costs on loan terms. Therefore, SPARC will provide Grants in a tiered system with winner, runner up, top 10 and remaining 30 participants receiving funding in a scaled manner.
1. 1st Place - E50, 000.00 - E50, 000.00
2. 2nd Place – E30, 000.00 - E30, 000.00
3. 3rd - 10th Place – E15, 000.00 each - E120, 000.00
4. 11th – 40th Place – E8, 000.00 each - E240, 000.00