South Sudanese youths are engaging more in business, seeking to gain economic power but still demand the government provides them with a conducive atmosphere.
Gak Malek who is a business consultant and the founder of Business and Entrepreneurship Anchor Technology (BEATec) said that while opportunities are many in the country, people shy away from them as a result of insecurity and heavy taxes levied on businesses.
“The government and partners all need to collectively come in to build the private sector,” the 27-year-old told Juba Echo in an interview in Juba.
“It has a lot of potential, over-taxation is one things that is affecting businesses, and it is a big concern that we all have to come in collectively and see how best are we going to support the youth,” Malek said.
This week, a youth business expo 2022 was organized in Juba by Shabab Le Shaba, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The intention of the expo is to expose businesses undertaken by the youths and also create a network with development partners and government agencies.
Malek noted that paying taxes is an obligation of every citizen and every company but urged that “the environment has to be made conducive for business to prosper as youth are coming in.”
“We are trying to motivate youth and young people to venture into the private sector, do businesses and create employment for other fellow youth as a way of also reducing crimes that are in the city because idle youth who are not employed will definitely turn into other negative things that turn to affect the society negatively,” he said.
Matata Safi Juma, the Chief Executive Officer of Hagana Company advised more youths to come into the private sector.
At Hagana Company, job opportunities are being created for more youths, Juma told Juba Echo.
“There are a lot of opportunities that youth should venture into, we can not 100 per cent rely on the government for job creation, we should look at what is it that we can do that can employ other youth,” he said.
“We buy honey from farmers who are producing honey, we carry on as a way of creating job opportunities, our business model is that we work with rural communities that are producing honey.”
Likewise, Thomas Serafino, the Director of Policy Advocacy and Program in the Directorate of the Private Sector Development at the Ministry of Trade and Industry said youths must begin engaging more in the private sector.
“As a youth, you own the economy, you own the factors of production, you own labour and you are the entrepreneurs of this country,” said Serafino.
“Currently, we are developing an export and investment strategy, we have already South Sudan Small and Medium Enterprise Regulation,” he said.
Responding to the calls of engaging in the private sector, Rachel Alek Aguer, a single parent and a mother of three who sells fruits along the University of Juba Giada road said she is optimistic her business will grow and expand across the country.
Aguer is already thinking of opening a similar one in Bor, the capital of Jonglei State.
“I started with 20,000 SSP, I sell fruits at the roadside, I have one stall near the university of Juba along Giada road and a new branch in Shirikat near Digitel office,” she told Juba Echo.
“I start this business three months ago and it is progressing, I am planning to open a branch in Bor in the next three months,” said Aguer.
According to the United Nations, the youths account for 73.7% of the total population in South Sudan. However, a sizeable number are unemployed thanks to the country’s struggling economy.