CCBSA tackling youth unemployment with Bizniz in a Box

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To date, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) together with its partners, has trained over 570 young entrepreneurs and helped 70 of them take their businesses to the next level in a bid to help reduce unemployment in South Africa creating 32 additional jobs by employing shop assistants. Akona Sishuba, Enterprise Development Manager at CCBSA says that the company’s Youth Empowerment Programme is a public-private partnership which aims to identify entrepreneurial youngsters who have the potential to create sustainable, growing businesses.
South Africa’s dire unemployment picture is the worst in the youth segment, with over 54% of young people unemployed. Another challenge is that South African SMMEs only create 28% of jobs (compared with the 90% targeted by the National Development Plan), with most of them remaining very small or survivalist enterprises. A shocking 70% of SMMEs fail within the first two years. Furthermore, research indicates that the common challenges that prevent SMMEs from growing are a lack of funding, proper business skills, as well as access to markets.
CCBSA came up with the Bizniz in a Box concept to help alleviate these challenges.
CCBSA realises that this cannot be achieved alone and, has partnered with both national and provincial government, local municipalities; development finance institutions such as the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and formal banks like Standard Bank. The company has also partnered with companies such as Sishen Iron Ore Company to further this mandate. Bizniz in a Box aims to create an ecosystem of viable micro-businesses offering complementary products and services in a community, using a spaza shop as the anchor. Each business operates out of a custom-designed container. These businesses would cover various needs of the local community, including a business centre/internet café, a car wash, a fast-food shop or a mini baker.
“Youth unemployment is very high in our country and it is untenable. While it isn’t just a South African phenomenon, we have to work together as industry, government and civil society to manage it. We have to exploit our demographic dividend and give young people meaningful livelihoods for them to become productive members of society”, said Sishuba. We are not looking to give out grants—we are offering an opportunity for committed young entrepreneurs to access the skills and funding they need to reach their potential,” Sishuba says. “Our philosophy is that providing a loan (via the Small Enterprises Funding Agency) and imparting vital skills through training and capacity building. We believe that the willingness to take on the debt is an important indicator of the calibre of the person we want to support”, Sishuba added.
The journey to owning this business, begins with a rigorous screening process to identify candidates within a community that CCBSA is targeting. Shortlisted candidates must be aged between 24 and 35, a resident in the community they want to conduct their business, and they must have some form of entrepreneurial experience. Diversity is a vital component of this programme as it forms part of our journey towards a non-discriminatory business and social environment, so 30% of the cohort of youth we engage with must be female. As part of the diversity commitment, we encourage disabled young people to participate in the programme. .
Thereafter an assessment is conducted to give the potential candidates a chance to show their potential in a live environment. The shortlisted candidates are taken on a boot camp to acquire the basic entrepreneurial skills they need to manage their business. The training is rated NQF 2.
Those that proceed into the final phase will work in the micro-business they have chosen.
The container is stocked by CCBSA and its partners, and the entrepreneurs are assisted to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements to allow them to run the business in line with regulation. Once an agreement is signed, they take legal ownership of the container and commence their repayments to SEFA.
“Bizniz in a Box is constantly being refined to ensure that we find young people with the right attitude and provide them with the help they need to create sustainable businesses that create jobs for themselves and others. Through, this public-private partnership, CCBSA is aiming to create 2 500 viable youth entrepreneurs by 2021,” Sishuba concludes. “Programmes like these, potentially offer us the best possible opportunity to create hope for young people and in the immediate term, help with reversing unemployment and creating livelihoods in our townships.”
To find out more about CCBSA’s Youth Empowerment Programme, and to apply, please visit

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