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OPINION | Unleash volunteerism for entrepreneurial, community growth

todayAugust 28, 2023 36

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The value of volunteering as a form of learning for aspiring entrepreneurs cannot be overemphasised. As a chairperson and founder of an organisation dedicated to empowering young entrepreneurs, this has become more and more apparent.

I suggest we explore how volunteering can shape the minds and hearts of young people, nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit and paving the way for future success.

Volunteering provides a platform for young entrepreneurs to gain hands-on experience, expand their networks and acquire skills crucial for their business endeavours. It is through volunteering that they are exposed to diverse environments, allowing them to observe and learn from seasoned professionals and industry experts.

This immersive learning experience goes beyond textbooks, enabling young entrepreneurs to develop practical knowledge and a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape.

Moreover, volunteering cultivates a sense of empathy and social responsibility. By actively engaging with communities, young people witness first-hand the challenges and opportunities that exist.

This exposure sparks creativity and innovation, inspiring them to develop solutions that address real societal needs. Volunteering teaches the importance of collaboration, problem-solving and adaptability, essential qualities for success in the ever-evolving entrepreneurial world.

It also presents networking opportunities. By working alongside like-minded individuals and established professionals, young entrepreneurs can build relationships that may lead to mentorship, partnerships and even potential investors. These connections offer guidance, support and access to resources, propelling their entrepreneurial journey forward.

Global icon, Nelson Mandela, once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Volunteering is an unconventional form of education, one that imparts knowledge and instils humility, perseverance and the pursuit of social impact. It empowers young entrepreneurs to become well-rounded individuals who are not only driven by profit, but deeply committed to making a difference.

We need to encourage and nurture a culture of volunteering among young entrepreneurs. By embracing it as a powerful learning tool, we unlock their potential to create positive change, drive innovation and transform communities. Together, we can ignite the entrepreneurial spirit through the invaluable lessons learnt while giving back.

When young entrepreneurs volunteer, they become active contributors to the development and progress of their communities. They become agents of change, using their skills and knowledge to make a meaningful impact.

By embracing volunteering as a gateway to entrepreneurial success, we unlock the potential to create positive change, drive innovation and transform communities.

Volunteering allows them to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. It provides a testing ground for their ideas, allowing them to refine their entrepreneurial vision in a real-world context.

Through volunteering, young entrepreneurs gain a comprehensive understanding of the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by their communities. This awareness enables them to develop sustainable and socially responsible business models that address these issues. By integrating the principles of social entrepreneurship into their ventures, they create economic value and contribute to society’s betterment.

Furthermore, volunteering teaches young entrepreneurs important lessons in leadership and teamwork. They learn to appreciate different perspectives and work collaboratively towards a common goal. This fosters the development of essential skills such as communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, which are vital for entrepreneurial success.

In addition to personal and professional growth opportunities, volunteering also has a positive impact on communities. When young entrepreneurs volunteer their time and expertise, they inspire others to do the same. They become role models, encouraging fellow youth to take an active role in shaping their communities. They create a ripple effect of change, mobilising a collective effort towards social and economic development.

To maximise the benefits of volunteering for young entrepreneurs, it is essential to create a supportive ecosystem that encourages and facilitates their involvement. Government agencies, educational institutions and private organisations can and must collaborate to establish programmes and initiatives that promote volunteerism among aspiring entrepreneurs.

These initiatives can include mentorship programmes, funding support for social impact projects and recognition schemes for outstanding contributions.

Furthermore, integrating volunteering into entrepreneurship education can be effective in instilling the values and skills necessary for success. By incorporating experiential learning opportunities, such as community-based projects, into entrepreneurship curricula, educational institutions can empower young entrepreneurs with the tools they need to create sustainable businesses that make a positive difference.

Lastly, volunteering is a powerful catalyst for entrepreneurial growth. It provides hands-on experience, valuable skills and meaningful connections. It cultivates empathy, social responsibility and a passion for making a difference. By embracing volunteering as a gateway to entrepreneurial success, we unlock the potential to create positive change, drive innovation and transform communities.

As we gear up to mark 10 years since his passing in December, let Mandela’s life and legacy remind us of the transformative power of selflessness and compassion. By following in his footsteps, young entrepreneurs can embody these values, creating a ripple effect of change that reaches far beyond financial success.

Let us unleash the entrepreneurial spirit within each of us and create a brighter, more inclusive future for all. Together, we can honour Mandela’s spirit of and make his vision of a better world a reality.

It is imperative for us to commemorate him by harnessing the power of volunteering to shape the future of entrepreneurship in South Africa and the world.

Together, we can unleash the entrepreneurial spirit and create a brighter, more inclusive future for all. Opinion piece has been written by Steve Zwane and it was first published on TimesLIVE.

Zwane is a doctoral candidate in entrepreneurship, a Nelson Mandela scholar and founder and chairperson of the Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development (YLED).

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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