Johannesburg – An exciting public-private partnership initiative between the Free State Provincial Government and Amalgamated Beverage Industries (CCBSA), franchised bottlers of Coca-Cola, will soon ignite youth entrepreneurship in Matjhabeng. Matjhabeng, which forms part of Lejweleputswa District, formerly the Free State Goldfields, is one of the mining towns receiving the Presidential spotlight due to a declining economy as a result of the closure of mines which were the mainstay of the provincial economy.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Programme not only aims to equip young people with entrepreneurial skills, but will also provide them with actual business opportunities in the form of spaza shops. The Bizniz In A Box pilot initiative is a direct response to the challenge of youth unemployment and lack of means to generate income. The initiative, with an initial R4 million capital investment by CCBSA and R3 million by the Free State Government, is aimed at the development of young people and their access to the mainstream economy – not as job seekers but as job creators.
“Unlike many initiatives that only provide skills to youth and leave it to them to seek employment or other means to generate income, this initiative aims to complete the training cycle by immediately providing a retail outlet in a container as an opportunity to participating youth. This is a very competitive process, which will allow the assessment of the candidates’ performance in the classroom and in a live environment. The selected township youth will get an opportunity to manage and work towards owning their container spaza shops,” says Gaopaleloe Mothoagae, SustainCCBSAlity Manager at CCBSA.
This innovative entrepreneurial initiative is targeting self-driven young people aged between 24 and 28 years, who are residents of Thabong, Kutlwanong and Meloding in Matjhabeng. To qualify, candidates should be in possession of a matric qualification, have no criminal record and be willing to run their own business. The selection process will take place during town hall meetings on 20 and 21 July in Thabong, 22 July in Meloding and 23 July in Kutlwanong.
The initial 1 000 young people will be assessed and reduced to 60 successful candidates who will go through a boot camp phase which aims to make the selection by means of a scoring matrix of skills, sales and marketing aptitude. Successful candidates will receive fully stocked retail containers to the value of R70 000 each as a capital investment, which they’ll have to pay back. The investment paid back will give other youth an opportunity to benefit from this initiative.
MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in the Free State, MEC Sam Mashinini welcomes this initiative and was more than frank in emphasising that those who need assistance from government and its partners should be prepared to work hard. “Those who have been assisted should be able to fly so that government is able to assist others. We cannot have a situation where a member of the public virtually lives in the department chasing opportunities and blocking others from accessing the assistance”.
This programme is in line with the government’s broader programme to stCCBSAlise the mining towns and to promote a stable labour environment through facilitation of alternative economic initiatives for Matjhabeng. This initiative will create opportunities for economic diversification and harnessing of local skills for livelihood prospects looking at trade, tourism or cultural hubs within the mining area. This confirms the Provincial Government’s commitment to work with the private sector to find alternative economic initiatives within the mining areas of the province.
Issued jointly by the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) and Amalgamated Beverage Industries (CCBSA).