Boxing clever for youth entrepreneurs

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Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa addresses the plight of youth unemployment

OUR youth face a very different set of challenges to those of 1976 – unemployment above all – and Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is working with young people to help them triumph over these challenges.

As we reflect on Youth Day on the sacrifices made for freedom, the sobering reality is that most young people struggle to find work, and many have given up hope.

But the young are known for their capacity to think outside the box and CCBSA is introducing them to the possibilities of entrepreneurship through a groundbreaking concept – dubbed Bizniz in a Box.

This exciting initiative is helping to turn the tide against youth unemployment by giving young people between the ages of 24 and 35 living in townships the opportunity, skills and funding to set up and run their own successful container shops.

In the space of just three months from December last year to February this year, total revenue for the first six shops increased from just over R50 000 a month to more than R200 000, demonstrating the great potential of the programme.

Talented young people are selected, trained in marketing, sales, stock management and finance and given access to funding to start their container business – literally a business in a box.

“Aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa face a number of challenges including a lack of funding and skills, fierce competition from bigger companies and regulatory challenges. These common hurdles have resulted in high failure rates for small businesses,” says Tsholofelo Mqhayi, head of Enterprise and Community Development at CCBSA. “Through the Bizniz in a Box process, we’re helping young people set up and manage thriving businesses in their communities.”

The programme is unique in the way it grooms young entrepreneurs to run their own businesses through on-the-job training. This means they are assessed on their actual performance in a live environment, rather than in a classroom set-up only.

It also gives candidates a true taste of what it’s like to operate a micro business independently.

They start the process of getting business fit with an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp where they are given the basic business skills to manage their Bizniz in a Box. Prospective entrepreneurs complete a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 2 accredited programme and demonstrate that they grasp and understand basic financial principles.

Then they jump in the deep end, taking charge of a fully stocked container shop which they operate for two months.

In this time they must use their own initiative to promote the store within the community, using direct marketing, promotions and other tools. Once the two-month immersion process is complete, the entrepreneurs who meet the performance criteria graduate and proceed to the next phase: going operational.

This is where their newly acquired business acumen is put to the test as they begin managing their allocated store, with the guidance and support of CCBSA, business development support consultants and mentors.

Once they’re up and running, they start making monthly repayments towards the start-up capital outlay of the store and inventory.

“The money that is repaid is invested in future rollouts of the project, enabling more youth to be supported in their quest to become entrepreneurs,” says Akona Sishuba, Enterprise Development project manager.

Once they’ve completed repayment of a portion of the capital cost of the store and met the performance criteria, the store is officially handed over to them and their new life as a fully independent entrepreneur begins.

They are also encouraged to start thinking about other opportunities outside their shop, such as opening up a franchised business.

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa has also committed to exploring and developing a micro-franchise programme supporting township retail development by leveraging Bizniz in a Box, as well as the Owner Driver programme which develops logistics entrepreneurs.

These will be used to collaborate with the Tshepo 1 Million township economy programme, a partnership to co-ordinate efforts between government and the private sector to help create opportunities for 1 million youth.

“Given the current economic landscape, prospects for growth and development are limited,” says Sishuba. “Through the Bizniz in a Box programme, youth candidates will be given an opportunity for self-employment, helping to secure their own livelihoods and support their families.”

With other initiatives like its Schools Recycling Programme, funding of IkamvaYouth, PH Gutsche Scholarship Fund and retailer training, CCBSA is helping to make sure our youth inherit the future of their dreams.



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