Tshepo10K: inspiring South African youth with skills

11 November 2015

The City of Tshwane, along with a number of stakeholders and partners including Absa, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the University of Pretoria, wants to continue to train, up skill and inspire more of the city’s young people to be willing and able enough to start up their own businesses in order to combat a sluggish local economy.

The city’s Tshepo10K, launched in 2013 and aimed at providing skills training and employment opportunities to 10 000 of the city’s youth, has begun to bear fruit.

At a presentation on 6 November 2015, the first top performing Tshepo10K beneficiaries and their stories were highlighted to media, invited guests and the public.

In his keynote address, Tshwane Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa thanked the stakeholders involved in the project and congratulated the young people on their achievements. He assured them the city would support them as they went forward.

Tembeka Mhlekwa, Tshwane’s head of economic development, who also spoke at the event, said she was happy with the progress of the project so far, and hoped that it would be a prime example for other municipalities on how to tackle youth unemployment.

The multimillion-rand project includes a collaboration with the University of Pretoria to train unemployed young people with a number of rigorous and intensive business management courses.

These offer them the chance to learn practical and necessary skills and expertise to start businesses that grow and succeed. The training includes learning how to use that business to successfully tender for government procurement contracts.

After training, the candidates then form business co-operatives and are placed in internships in the city’s various utility departments, such as electricity and energy, water and sanitation, roads and transport, housing and human settlements, and environmental management. More than 190 co-operatives have already been established through the project. These businesses operate across the Tshwane municipality and bring much-needed services to residents.

Lesedi T Ten K Co-operative

Lebogang Maanga, one of the first through the programme, is the chairperson of the Lesedi T Ten K Co-operative, owned together with four partners.

Maanga received a grant to set up the co-operative from the NYDA and used it to fund the office equipment for the business. “We named our co-operative Lesedi because we saw light at the end of the tunnel. The project has provided us with administrative skills such as how to quote for our services,” she said.

The key milestones for their co-operative, Maanga explained at the event, included sending out letters of demand on behalf of the city, providing cleaning services at Rosslyn electricity depot, repairing street lights in Soshanguve, and erecting soccer pitches around the city.

“(The co-operative has) created 64 jobs,” said Maanga, but she acknowledged that the journey had not been easy. “At times we faced financial challenges but through hard work, determination, sleepless nights and continuous support from the city, we were able to get here.”

The Lesedi team is now able to live fruitful and productive lives, while using their business acumen to improve the lives of others in their community.

Speaking about Lesedi’s future and the success of Tshepo10K, Maanga said they were “determined to work harder, and not only focus on quantity but also ensure that the service and goods we provide is of high quality”. They plan to grow the business and involve more unemployed youth.

Eco Factory Co-operative

Eco Factory, in the Ga-Rankuwa industrial park, produces low-cost school desks, helping the Department of Basic Education to address the needs of schools and supply quality school desks to poor schools across the country.

The desks are made in South Africa from the wood of invasive alien trees cleared by previously unemployed workers. Eco Factory’s David Makobe said Tshepo10K had helped him understand business and procurement processes, a skill he never had before.

Hlabollo Primary Co-operative

Another beneficiary, Lucky Malatji of Hlabollo Primary Co-operative, works in the housing sector. He said that thanks to skills learned with Tshepo10K, the co- operative was awarded a project for ready-mix concrete valued at R200 000 as well as a storm water maintenance project valued at R400 000. The group employed 30 previously unemployed youths.

Funding, though, is one of main challenges to the survival of the co-operatives, and Tshepo10K urges more interaction with the private sector to help make these small initiatives work better.

“There has been resistance from buyers to utilise Tshepo co-operatives. But recently they have started warming up to us,” said one co-operative member.

Youth were a key element in Tshwane Vision 2055, said the member of the Tshwane mayoral committee for economic development, Subesh Pillay. “The city believes its young residents will be the flag bearers and reap the benefits of the city in the future.”

Proceedings ended with a song for the Tshepo10K project, written and performed by one of its beneficiaries who hoped to inspire the next group of young people to take hold of their future.

Source: South African Government News Website