It is often believed that without opportunity, entrepreneurship would not exist. Identification and pursuit of opportunities are believed to be at the very heart of entrepreneurial success, which sets entrepreneurs apart from other members of society. However, according to the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report, only about one-third of South Africans were able to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities within their communities. In Uganda, the majority of the youth entrepreneurs are said to be engaged in low margin businesses that are only able to meet the day-to-day needs of the owners with very little differentiation amongst them. This study was intended, among others, to gain insight into the interface between the youth entrepreneurs and the environment and shed light on how youth identify and make decisions regarding the opportunities that can be pursued and those that should be left out. The results showed that four main considerations come into play in the process of identifying a business opportunity: a problem in the community; a need in the market; insights from daily conversations; and ‘what you make of it.’ The emphasis on each of these factors seemed to vary by country. In deciding which opportunities to pursue, the youth entrepreneurs took into consideration the following factors: economic viability, benefits to all parties, ‘something that you want to do’, and market reaction. However, the youth entrepreneurs in either country do not put the same weight on each of these considerations, perhaps owing to the different contexts. To help young people improve their abilities to spot opportunities, South African respondents identified four main areas: teaching entrepreneurial awareness; developing entrepreneurial mindsets; improving understanding of their circumstances as sources of opportunity; and starting small while learning in the process. Ugandan respondents listed three main areas: parents grooming their children in family businesses; implementation of community entrepreneurship programmes; and incorporating problem-solving, critical thinking, and lateral thinking in the education curricula. These results are informative both for the youth intending to become entrepreneurs and the stakeholders who are involved in youth entrepreneurship development in developing countries.
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