Taking Charge

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nthambeleni Gabara takes a look at how the lives of a few youngsters have changed in the North West – with the help of the National Youth Development Agency.

Farming is not a popular career among young people. For a young woman, starting out in the industry can be scary business.  There is so much to understand and learn in a short space of time. For many, the chances of succeeding in farming are limited. But, not for this young North West farmer who has decided to beat the odds to make a successful career out of farming. Meet Pontsho Senne - a 31-year-old thriving farmer from Rustenburg.

Armed with a strong work ethic, determination and financial assistance from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Senne has managed to turn her All Things Chicken company into a flourishing enterprise that produces 5000 chickens a day. As a result of the growth in her business, Senne is able to employ seven people from the village, one on a permanent basis. She says the R49 000 grant she received from the NYDA has helped her to buy much needed equipment, such as chicken pluckers and crates. The business is now booming.

“The chicken pluckers have made production easier and quicker because we are able to place six chickens at a time, and with the crates, we are now able to collect stock in bulk instead of taking more trips to and from our suppliers,” she says.

Like most rural young South Africans, one of her biggest problems was not only a lack of basic farming skills, but Senne lacked financial support to grow her business.

The mother of two - who matriculated at Iphatlhose Secondary School in Tlhabane -, acknowledges that it takes a lot of hard work and passion for one to start and grow a business.

“It does not happen overnight. So, as young South Africans we must never be afraid to try new things.  As a self-taught poultry farmer, I had financial challenges to get start-up equipment when I started the business in 2012; the demand was growing, but it was difficult for me to increase production.”

With the help of the NYDA funding, production has more than doubled, she says.  According to the agency, the aim of the Grant Programme is to provide young entrepreneurs with an opportunity to access both the financial and non-financial business development support to establish their “survivalist” businesses.

The programme focuses on youth entrepreneurs who are just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential, but not yet fully developed.

A total of 500 South African youth owned enterprises will benefit from the grant programme starting from R1000 to R100 000, while thousands more youth will access the non-financial business support services. Young people interested in accessing the grant programme will have to commit to participate in the NYDA mentorship and voucher programme for a minimum of two years.

Another beneficiary of the grant, also from the North West, is 33-year-old Kutlwano Matlapeng, from Mabeskraal village, outside Rustenburg.

Like Senne, Matlapeng is a thriving entrepreneur who used the grant to grow her ice business - the Re ya Kgole Trading & Projects. He is the sole provider of ice to different markets in his village.

The determined entrepreneur is the director of Re ya Kgole Trading & Projects which focusses on supplying villagers with ice-cubes.

Even though her business booms mostly during summer when demand for ice is high, he is happy with the R10 000 grant he received from the NYDA, adding that without it, he would probably have no business to speak of.

“People at my village are no longer going to Rustenburg to buy ice-cream and I’m determined to grow this business so that I can also create more jobs for the unemployed locals.”

Before the funding, things were difficult for Matlapeng to run this business as he was using a small household refrigerator which made it impossible to meet demand.

“The machine that I’m using has minimal operating costs as it can operate on its own, giving me more time to do other things such as packaging.”

In the nearby Phatsima village, 45 km from Rustenburg, there is a 25-year-old, Michael Kepu, who is now popular for taking quality photographs for weddings, fashion events, birthdays and matric farewell parties.

Kepu, who received a R10 000 grant to buy two digital cameras to grow and sustain his business - Same-time Production – gushes that things could not be better for him.

“I’m humbled by the financial support I received from the agency. I’m the people’s photographer. When there are events in my village, I’m the one who is rendering both the videography and photography services.”

He too wants to grow this business to a level where he can employ a team of young photographers.

For Kutlwano Mohamed from Tlhabane in Rustenburg, business had not been doing well until she approached the NYDA. She had been struggling in the recent years to sustain her business which offers services like manicures and pedicures.

The NYDA approved a grant of just over R49 000 for her to acquire equipment.

It will also enable the business to expand its services to foot massages and treatments.

Then, there is 26-year-old Mahlatji Mohlahlo, owner of Revelations Glass and Aluminium.

Mohlahlo, with a valuable experienced in manufacturing glass and Aluminium, used to hire and borrow machines to do his work in the past - before the NYDA stepped in.

“Slowly but surely we are becoming a preferred brand here in Rustenburg Noord and the surrounding areas - and I now have four-people who are working with me. Part of my vision is to visit China to expand my skills in manufacturing glass and Aluminum,” he says.

Mohlahlo, like many of the other young people, I have spoken to, believes any person can be an entrepreneur, as long they put their mind to it.  With the highest number of unemployed South Africans in the country,  being the youth, there is no doubt in my mind that initiatives like the NYDA grant programme can go a long way in growing young entrepreneurs who will in turn create jobs for their peers.  My conversation with these youngsters showed me that young people everywhere are speaking out, stepping up, and changing their communities for the better. – SAnews.gov.za

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