Maverick Citizen

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Gqeberha jobs NGO makes young South Africans’ dreams and goals a reality

Gqeberha jobs NGO makes young South Africans’ dreams and goals a reality
The wall where young people can write out their goals. (Photos: Supplied)

Young people in a Gqeberha township get help to redo matric, find a job or start a business.

As you enter Gqeberha-based NGO Masifunde’s Entrepreneur Incubator there is a big blackboard on which young people can write down their goals.

It is called the “Goal Wall 2024”.

Passing matric, getting a job as a cleaner, a sound producer, an administrative assistant or a nurse, and getting into university to become a psychologist are some of the goals young people have written down.

“When they reach their goal… we wipe it off the board,” said Sipuxolo Toni, head of post-school programmes at Masifunde, “and add it to our successes.”

So far this year they have placed 20 people in jobs, one is at university, 21 have rewritten matric and 67 have completed their “get ahead” course. And though the facilitators at the centre know exactly how hard it is to find a job, they firmly believe it can be done.

They are here for the young people in the Walmer Township community, whether they want to write matric, get a job or start a business.

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Siyanda Mhlom, a youth support agent from Masifunde Entrepreneur Incubator.

“Walmer Township has low-income households with more than six people in an informal house. There is a lack of financial, physical and mental space,” said Siyanda Mhlom, a youth support agent for further education at the centre. “We don’t separate them from where they are coming from. We are at the centre of the township. We have a reciprocal relationship… We protect them and they protect us. We don’t just provide; we give you the tools. We are not the saviours of the township. We are empowering the community.”

Mhlom said it is a battle to complete schooling in most township schools because many pupils are barred from writing matric exams because their marks are too low. The centre helps them to complete the Department of Education’s Second Chance matric programme.

“The main aim of our programme is to help young people be employable,” Toni said. “We work on self-motivation and goal setting. We help them write a CV… we have mock interviews with them, [show them] how to get an email address and tax numbers, all the basics.”

The centre also offers courses in project management, basic computer literacy, basic finance management to upskill them so they can navigate the workplace, and vocational training for administrators, gardeners, baristas, chefs, maintenance trainees, cleaning trainees and hospitality trainees.

We want to grow the kasi economy that was started by our mothers and grandmothers who were selling fat cakes on the sidewalk.

“If they want a job, we help them look for work, we show them how to find opportunities… how to go door to door,” Toni said.

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Professor Noluntu Dyubhele from Nelson Mandela University. 

Speaking at a “Spark Change” lunch, hosted by Masifunde, economist and teacher Professor Noluntu Dyubhele from Nelson Mandela University said unemployment should not be described as a “government problem”.

“It does not belong to the government,” she said. “When we discuss unemployment it must not be a blame game. It must start with you as a job seeker.”

She said the power of entrepreneurs starting their own businesses to fight unemployment is vastly underestimated. “People are not taking it seriously.”

For the entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses, Masifunde also offers a programme, shop space and a bookkeeper.

Abongile Davani is the youth support agent for entrepreneurship.

“Young people are already driving the kasi economy,” he said. “But they work in their rooms or in their backyards. We want to give them their own shops to expand their business… We want to grow the kasi economy that was started by our mothers and grandmothers who were selling fat cakes on the sidewalk,” he said. “We have young, vibrant people.”

The centre also offers a general shop where artists and entrepreneurs can sell merchandise.

“Young people are tired of waiting,” Davani said. “They want to do things themselves. People are tired of dialogues about things that do not go where they are supposed to go. It is a structural problem.”

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Mpumie Adam from Plus Size Innovation. 

Perfect fit

Mpumie Adam opened Plus Size Innovation a few weeks ago at the incubator.

“It started with me. I always struggled to find clothes that fit me well and made me feel beautiful. I was watching tutorials and teaching myself to sew and practising on my own. It was not easy at first.”

She said when she saw an advert on social media about space being available at the incubator she grabbed the opportunity.

“It is much better being here than working from home. The future is looking bright.”

Adam makes three outfits a day. “When I started, my outfits never had pockets but my clients came back and told me: Sisi, please put in some pockets for us. Suggestions like that have helped me grow,” she said.

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Buzwe Ngcayisa at his potter’s wheel. 

Buzwe Ngcayisa is an established visual arts teacher but also has a space at the incubator where he does his pottery. He serves as a mentor and a teacher to the other young entrepreneurs.

“My family is from here – there is a street named after my grandfather. I have been longing to do something for the community and work with young ones,” he said. “But here in my shop space I can also tell my own story. A lot of young people passing through come to ask me to learn about ceramic art,” he said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Empower Africa’s youth to create jobs, growth and peace

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Ncebakazi Xuma from Ncesh Beading Craft. 

Ncebakazi Xuma opened her store, Ncesh Beading Craft, at the incubator as well. A self-taught beading artist, she originally learnt her craft by watching YouTube videos but later went to check with a woman who did beadwork to see if she was doing it right.

“I am proud of my business,” she said.

It used to be online but now she can showcase her work in her own shop.

“Everyone can now come to see my work. It is also not safe to have people coming to your home.” 

Phelelani Makinana joined Izandla Zethu in 2019 as a Masifunde learner. The Izandla Zethu programme trains learners to make jewellery from the corrugated sheets of old shacks and copper obtained from scrapyard dealers. Today she is the project facilitator.

Makinana said she offers Grade 9 pupils jewellery-making because not everyone is equipped to learn academically.

“We give these learners… the belief that they can do this,” she said. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R35.

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