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With sky-high unemployment rates and political instability a trampoline would be proud of, could the solution be as simple as changing a pair of glasses?


It’s often been said that optimists see the world through rose-tinted glasses. The idiom refers to their thoughts, opinions and perspectives in which they frame the world. Now, there are valid arguments against optimism, particularly in favour of realism. But it’s not the tint of the glasses that really matter here. It’s the impact those metaphorical glasses can have on the real world that matters.


The South African economy is both depressed and depressing


First let’s frame the problem: South African unemployment rates are nothing short of atrocious. The official rate is 26,6% — yes, more than a quarter of our employable population is unemployed. That’s bad. And it’s getting worse. Moreover, economic forecasters say it’s going to continue to do so. In fact, Stats SA cites an unemployment rate of 38.6% for those between the ages of 15 and 34. Our unemployment rate is so bad that our heroic ex-Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, declared it a national emergency.


What’s more, it’s hard to get a job in South Africa. You’ve most likely heard the joke about how a 21-year-old who finished school at 18 and went to university for three years is expected to have three years’ experience for an entry-level position.


However, our unemployment rate is not high because we’re an unproductive country (our Gross Domestic Product saw us ranked 28th in the world last year, according to the World Bank). Our unemployment rate is high because the bottom line is that, as Cal Bruns of Pioneer Nation put it, “there aren’t enough jobs to go around.” Small to medium businesses are just not creating enough jobs.


Defining the ‘tint’


This is where the tint of those glasses comes into play because, where many see that bottom line as a brick wall, those with an ‘entrepreneurial tint’ to their glasses see it as an opportunity.


If you need something unique, a custom physical product that you can’t find anywhere, what do you do? You find people who can do what’s required and you have it made, right? One way or the other, you make it happen. Why should it be any different with creating jobs?


It’s not my problem


Unemployment is a hugely complex socioeconomic problem with many, many layers to it. At a base level, a more effective SME support structure and ecosystem is one of the solutions that can help us gain enormous traction towards solving our unemployment crisis. This support I’m referring to, should not only come from government, but from all of us and by all communities and sectors.


The reason why unemployment is a problem for us all, is that if we, as a collective, don’t create enough jobs to support the required economic growth, then we limit South Africa’s economic viability ourselves. A problem that will hurt us all in the end.


As entrepreneurs, we go into business for a variety of reasons, to solve problems. Yes, at the end of the day we don’t have a ‘prefabricated’ job provided by someone else — we create it ourselves. And so, why not work together to create more jobs.



The paradigm of start-ups


The idea that each person can and should start their own business is a faulty one, and not practical at all. The global economy is evolving and moving towards a much more collaborative environment where small enterprises can flourish. Imagine how much more we could flourish if a few people with complementary skill sets in that unemployed 38.6% came together to form a small enterprise rather than each one going it alone.


Cal Bruns also talks about “embracing the notion that small is big”, and in South Africa this is of the utmost importance. Because not only is building a small business with just under R1 million annual turnover fairly doable, it’s also enough to satisfy many who are currently stuck earning significantly less or nothing at all.



A new perspective


As we approach the end of 2017, let’s not forget that millions will go without food this December. Let’s take this opportunity to swap out our glasses for ones that frame such problems as opportunities, and produce collaborative chances for sustainable entrepreneurship and job creation.


Our company is doing its bit through the A-Game Business Blueprint. And if we all put our bits together, we can achieve tons more.

I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the issue of unemployment and how we can go about turning this situation around. Please share your thoughts and iDiaz in the comments section below.




KK Diaz



KK Diaz is a business and brand strategist, 7X author and speaker.

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