HCP Discussion Paper No. 31: Motivations and Challenges of Youth Entrepreneurs in Maputo’s Food Markets
Amidst a growing youth unemployment crisis spreading across Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a pressing need for effective policy intervention, based on sound research, to support young people’s entry into labour markets. As urban labour markets continue to catalyze the growth of national economies in the Global South, the inclusion of youth entrepreneurs in the food retail sector in Maputo has become an important but largely unstudied phenomenon. This paper assesses the demographic and entrepreneurial characteristics of this population through a vendor survey of 504 youth entrepreneurs (those aged 35 years and younger) operating small-scale food enterprises in the Mozambican capital. The findings indicate that most vendors are female, born locally, and have limited formal education. The youth food vendors identified survival, family financial security, personal desire, learning, and self-determination as the most common reasons for starting their businesses. They also identified competition, insufficient sales and customers, and unaffordable suppliers as the most common business challenges. This paper highlights the aspirations of this population and the formidable economic challenges in their path to business success.