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"There is a great opportunity for our youth to choose entrepreneurship as a career and become job creators rather than job seekers," says Nimo Naidoo, project manager of the Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Competition.
Naidoo was speaking yesterday ahead of the World Entrepreneurship Day which will be celebrated on Sunday.
"Our education system should promote entrepreneurship as a career. Entrepreneurship will then address unemployment issues by providing an outlet for the talents of many highly educated young people such as college and university graduates, especially in globally-growing industries such as information technology.
"The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index has revealed that the country's global entrepreneurial ranking has fallen from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012.
"This means we are losing pace with smaller GDP countries such as Colombia and Peru," Naidoo said.
"Entrepreneurship serves as a catalyst for economic growth and national competitiveness and, for an emerging economy such as ours, this ranking is simply too low."
Naidoo said in order to foster a culture of entrepreneurship locally, prospective entrepreneurs needed to overcome barriers such as a fear of failure and a lack of funding.
She said role models were key to educating the youth on entrepreneurship.
SA's economic prosperity relied on the actions and successes of existing and future entrepreneurs.