Shenzhen is looking to small start-ups to help drive it out of the economic doldrums and create sorely needed jobs. The special economic zone has increased the size of favourable loans for new businesses and offered entrepreneurs one year of social insurance payments if the business fails. But unemployed workers and graduates question the value of the offer, as few people took advantage of the loans even before the global financial crisis. The Southern Metropolis News reported that labour authorities had increased the size of start-up loans from 30,000 yuan (HK$34,000) to 100,000 yuan, and offered exemptions on registration and other administrative fees for three years. Entrepreneurs have been offered bonuses if their businesses survive for up to three years and 1,000 yuan for every unemployed worker hired. Those with Shenzhen permanent residency have been offered a year of social security payments if they go bankrupt, the report said. The scheme targets jobless workers, university graduates, demobilised soldiers and disabled people. But many unemployed people appear to doubt whether the scheme will make much of a difference. Only 550 people have taken advantage of it each year since 2005, and it has created just 2,150 jobs a year. Last week a random survey by labour authorities of unemployed people between 18 and 35 found that 39 per cent had never considered self-employment. Furthermore, 42 per cent said they had not looked for a job for the past three months. 'Many said they had no idea about what kind of business they wanted to start and lacked confidence ... Meanwhile, only 20 per cent of interviewees said they wanted to receive self-employment training,' the survey report said. University graduates are also indifferent to the idea of entrepreneurship. On average just 1 per cent of Guangdong college students opted to start their own business, according to research by the Guangdong committee of the Chinese Youth League. Cha Zhenxiang, dean of Shenzhen Polytechnic, said the government should not encourage graduates to start their own businesses because most lacked the prerequisite capital, social networks and experience to survive in the marketplace. 'Because of the kind of exam-oriented education they received, starting an enterprise is doomed to failure. The situation is similar to throwing someone who can't swim into a deep pool,' he said. Graduate Liu Yanjiang said his idea of self-employment revolved around running a stall or selling kebabs - and he wanted no part of that. 'I feel this is the only business idea me and many other penniless graduates have,' he said. 'I want to find a decent job that builds up my resume, rather than waste my time on a street business.'