YOUTH

Beyond commercial viability

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With the youth set to form over 50% of the South African population and almost 62% across the Sub-Saharan Africa, it is a no brainer that their voice in creating a vibrant society and economy has become the much needed lifeline to drive future client growth.

Referred to as the born-frees, these youngsters are arguably a threat to the prevailing status quo, challenging set norms and practices by complacent brands and institutions that continue to deploy seemingly ‘half-baked’ strategies and campaigns aimed at capturing this generation.

One of the synonyms of complacency is self-righteousness which by definition can cloud other views particularly from audiences perceived to be less knowledgeable such as young people. This way, not only failing to appreciate the varying viewpoints but understand the nuisances thereof – more importantly embrace new possibilities to engender meaningful dialogue and growth.

Several studies conducted indicate that young people from all walks of life across the globe, express hunger to define newness and relevance through their lens of the world. In some cases , this means redefining the very norms, practices and beliefs in order to unearth their full potential in becoming self-directing, autonomous powerhouses that are poised to drive purpose and meaning for the African generation.

Among other brands and institutions lining up to gain their share of the wallet from this commercially viable generation, is the financial services industry. According to the 2014 Sunday Times Generation Next Brand Survey which reported that, with more than 50% of the population aged 23 and below, it has become crucial for companies targeting this segment to adapt marketing strategies for more attuned engagement.

True to the expectations of every business, commercial viability for shareholders is and will remain a critical measure for success. However young people are calling for more sound business practices that encompass socio economic reforms and all round sustainability taking into account systemic issues such as poverty, lack of education, access to health, unemployment and depletion of the environment – right at the top of the agenda.

The role of leadership in addressing some of these issues remains on the spotlight, building on some of the corrective initiatives such as the recent address by the US President Barack Obama at the Young African Leaders forum at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus during youth month in 2014. According to the youth attendees, President Obama ignited their hopes and encouraged them to dream beyond the quagmire that is poverty, through championing an entrepreneurial spirit to drive success.

As a bank for small businesses, Nedbank recognises the fast growing role of the youth for both its future growth and socio economic vibrancy.

It is against this backdrop that the bank announced its strategic intent to engage with the youth in 2012 with the launch of Nedbank 4me ‘My Future My Bank’ bank account based on four pillars - 4spending, 4saving, 4growing, 4good. The account seeks to encourage kids and teens to transact, save and build financial fitness from an early age, with the benefit of earning a preferential interest when they save.

In 2014, Nedbank joined forces with some of South Africa’s game changers to launch Talks4Sucess, an initiative that seeks to empower young adults through a series of motivational and entrepreneurial seminars. The talks saw the youth engaging with young inspirational leaders and social icons such as Siya Xuza, Harvard graduate and South Africa’s first rocket fuel rockstar who began his journey at 12 in his mother's kitchen to bake the award winning rocket fuel.

In addition, Nedbank hosts the Nedbank 4me Entrepreneurship Days Programme which aims to instil an entrepreneurial culture among the youth including financial literacy training.

Nedbank acknowledges that continued investment and engagement to understanding the needs and fast evolving dynamics of this generation, is a business imperative to make the things that really matter for SA’s future happen.

Hazel Shozi

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