A process evaluation of the National Youth Development Agency’s grant programme with respect to the beneficiaries of the Western Cape for the period 2013-2014
Youth today are constantly faced with enormous challenges and are continually faced with job uncertainty and scarce opportunities with almost no means to personal growth. Faced with bleak future livelihood prospects, youth make up a large number of the world’s working poor. Inadequate youth education and lack of labour market preparation still pose challenges for South African youth. They face sizeable constraints to entrepreneurship such as a lack of entrepreneurship culture; lack of entrepreneurship knowledge through formal and informal education; relevant business development services, unsatisfactory business support and insufficient access to financing. Despite this, the extent of research on youth entrepreneurship in Africa is deficient, even non-existent in some contexts. In response to the alarming rate of youth unemployment, the South African government had embarked on realising some of the aspects of the National Youth Policy through youth empowerment via a number of interventions. The implementing agency of all youth development policies and interventions is the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). The agency has rolled out a number of interventions to address various issues pertinent to the state of the youth in South Africa. However, the specific interventions this study addresses are those related to entrepreneurship, specifically the NYDA Grant programme. Under the Grant programme, a number of issues are addressed such as provision of physical capital, access to resources in the form of advice, guidance and mentorship made available by the National Youth Development Agency to the unemployed youth in the Western Cape. While many youth development programmes have been rolled out both around the world and in South Africa, very little monitoring and evaluation has been conducted in identifying which programmes are effective and sustainable in the long run. At the time of this research, limited information had been accessible with respect to the benefits of entrepreneurship development programmes in South Africa. This research is significant in the sense that it bridges the gaps in the literature on youth entrepreneurship interventions and practical interventions in the field. Furthermore, it provides a lens with which to determine whether they are indeed a sustainable way forward for unemployed youth. Therefore this study conducted a process evaluation using qualitative research methods in order to ascertain if the NYDA is efficiently and effectively executing its mandate with respect to the Grant programme. The research objectives of this study were 1) to conduct a process evaluation of the National Youth Development Agency’s Grant programme, 2) to develop a theoretical and legislative framework underpinning youth in South Africa, 3) to describe and analyse the NYDA’s Grant programme, 4) to highlight the opportunities and challenges that affect the current implementation of the Grant programme and 5) to present recommendations. The findings suggest that the Grant programme has been relevant, timely and useful to young aspiring entrepreneurs providing them with the necessary support through the provision of stock, physical capital and other business support services such as mandatory entrepreneurial training. Despite this, young entrepreneurs still face challenges in sustaining their businesses financially and struggle with establishing a physical space in which they can trade. A number of recommendations were made from the perspectives of the beneficiaries and the NYDA Cape Town Branch implementing staff, namely: increasing staff to improve the administration of the Grant Programme, increasing the grant turnaround time, providing recourse to further funding and physical space and uploading the grant application process onto the internet to save time and money for both beneficiaries and implementing staff.