More than 900 pupils in eight under-resourced schools in the Karoo are being equipped to take control of their futures by creating their own jobs.
The Grade 10 and 11 pupils in Somerset East, Cookhouse, Adelaide and Bedford are setting up their own small businesses and learning financial literacy, through the community-outreach arm of Young Entrepreneurs, a national franchise which aims to help young South Africans avoid becoming part of the more than 26% working-age South Africans who are unemployed.
“The whole idea is to uplift the area and give the kids a better chance of success,” said Young Entrepreneurs business owner Ansulene Prinsloo, who introduced the programme in Port Elizabeth last year, and has since taken it to the Karoo and other Eastern Cape towns.
“The children are learning invaluable business-, life- and financial literacy skills from the practical experience of starting their own business, which entails among others, coming up with a business name and logo, registering the business, creating and manufacturing products and then selling these at a market day. They are also learning how to manage their money, with a strong focus on saving, spending, sharing and investing.”
The year-long Karoo programme, which began in July 2017 and is being sponsored by Metropolitan through the MMI Foundation, is encouraging pupils to practise their ingenuity and creativity by making jewellery, picture frames, stationery holders and other products out of recycled material – and it is starting to make a difference in their lives.
“If it wasn’t for this programme, I wouldn’t have really known what I wanted to be and achieve in life,” said Mahlathi Phumelele from Lonwabo High in Bedford. “I am now a disciplined learner because I see that success depends on hard work. My performance in Business Studies has improved because I am able to relate what I learn in the Young Entrepreneurs programme to what I am learning in the classroom.”
Sinovuya Jaxa, from Adelaide Gymnasium in Adelaide, said: “I have learnt that saving money and investing is vital to our modern-day society – and that entrepreneurship is a skill that few people have and use. In the future, I will be equipped in managing finances and make informed decisions.”
“We have learnt a lot of things we thought we would never know,” said another Adelaide Gymnasium pupil, Busani George. “We believe the programme will take us far … It has really opened our minds to see the bigger picture.”
“I have learnt about economic problems, budgeting, saving, insurance, investing, and currencies in different countries – and the programme has shown me which career I can follow,” said Aeroville Secondary pupil Siyamthanda Kosini, in Somerset East.
Siphosethu Tonga, a facilitator of the programme at Johnson Nqonqoza Senior Secondary School in Somerset East, said the programme was eye-opening not just for the learners but for herself. “There is a Chinese proverb that says: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. That is exactly what the Young Entrepreneurs programme is doing for our learners. They are being taught to create work for themselves and to create their own wealth – and not to depend on the government [to create jobs].”
Johnson Nqonqoza principal Henry Syce called the programme an “exciting initiative that empowers our children and impacts our community positively”, while Adelaide Gymnasium principal Mr Paul Geswendt said participating learners showed “an enormous improvement in their self-confidence, which in turn has a positive impact on their overall performance … The topics that have been covered go far beyond curriculum content. Learners have developed a much greater understanding of everyday life situations outside the school context.”
Metropolitan Corporate Social Investment Manager Elsie Govender said the programme was aimed at setting up South African’s next generation of adults for financial success.
“The future of our country, our economy and our businesses lie in the hands of our youth. Our ultimate goal is to empower these young people by preparing them for the financial responsibilities of adulthood.”
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