By Nosihle Shelembe
After struggling to find a stable job for more than three years, Nelisiwe Gabini decided to start her own events planning company in Bronkhorstspruit, a small town about 50 kilometres east of Tshwane.
During the three years, Gabini made money selling beauty products and household items like Tupperware. She also worked part-time for a catering company when an idea to start her own business came to her.
And so in 2014, Citrus Events was born when the 26-year-old entrepreneur saw a gap in the market for planning children’s events.
She advertised her business on social media and when the word was out that she was planning children’s parties, she got her first two clients. She used the money from her first clients to rent equipment and pay for transport costs.
From the first two events that she organised, Gabini says she was able to purchase chairs, covers for the chairs and a gazebo.
“As I got more customers I was able to buy more equipment for the business as the objective was to minimise the rental costs,” she says.
In 2017, Gabini was looking for ways to expand her business so she registered with the Tshepo One Million programme, an initiative of the Gauteng Provincial Government’s comprehensive youth economic inclusion programme. The programme is aimed at young people who need skills training, job placement and entrepreneurship development.
Gabini is currently enrolled in the Sasol I-AM-PRENEUR incubator programme which equips entrepreneurs with marketing, business and financial management skills.
Citrus Events was also funded with equipment valued at R15 000 for a jumping castle and chairs.
“With the equipment that I got, I have been able to reduce my biggest expenditure which was renting out a jumping castle. Jumping castle rates range from R350 to R450 and all my children’s events require a jumping castle,” she says.
The young entrepreneur is also renting out her jumping castle to bring in money for the business.
Gabini’s business has come a long way since it was established as she now plans baby showers as well as weddings. She currently employs five people, two of which are permanent members of her team.
The Tshepo initiative, which was launched in 2014 under the name Tshepo 500 000, was redeveloped and unveiled as Tshepo One million in 2017.
Since its implementation, more than 450 000 young people have benefitted from the programme.
According to Tshepo One million Chief Director Jak Koseff, beneficiaries have been placed into long-term jobs, temporary jobs while other beneficiaries have received learning opportunities that focus on basic desktop literacy, the K53 license preparation and the matric rewrite programme.
Another beneficiary, 28-year-old Erusmus Matsalani found permanent employment through the programme.
He is employed by one of the country’s leading insurers as a financial adviser. When he joined the programme last year, Matsalani was offered an opportunity to do a learnership on wealth management.
“After completing my Diploma in Logistics at the Tshwane University of Technology, I was unemployed for about a year and that was hard on me. I am grateful for the opportunity that the programme has given me because I can now provide for my family,” he says.
Although Matsalani has had to change career paths, he says he loves his job because it challenges him.
The programme also gave 20-year-old Joy Tsheogo hope of a better future after she was forced to drop out of the University of Johannesburg as she could no longer afford to pay for her fees.
The former BCom Accounting student joined the programme last year and is currently doing her learnership with Old Mutual Insure.
“I still want to achieve my dream of being a Chartered Accountant, I’m going to use this opportunity to be exceptional at my job so that I can increase my chances of getting placed permanently,” she says.
Tsheogo is also saving money every month as she is determined to return to university.
With regards to self-employment, the programme offers the youth opportunities to participate in its micro-franchise programme, where they can start their own Early Childhood Development centres with a curriculum support.
Additionally, young people have the opportunity to deliver stock for Coca-Cola, L’Oreal and Big Save, using a combination of Tuk-Tuks and vans as part of the micro-franchise programme.
“We recognise that if we can’t enable township firms to become employers we will lose the battle against youth unemployment because about 80% of the people we are trying to assist are living in areas where they cannot afford to travel to a job that pays a minimum wage or an internship stipend.
“If we don’t have employment in township and informal settlements we will lose the battle [of unemployment],” Koseff says.
Through its Kasi Unlimited sub-programme, the provincial government links vetted township enterprises with opportunities to provide goods and services to larger, more established corporates, on condition the small firms give young people from their neighbourhood opportunities through the Tshepo One Million programme as workers, interns or contractors.
The Tshepo One Million programme is also aligned with the Youth Employment Service (YES) Initiative that was recently launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The YES initiative aims to see more than one million young South Africans being offered paid work experience over the next three years, as part of placing the needs of and opportunities for young people at the centre of inclusive economic growth.
The initiative takes the form of a partnership between the government, business, labour and civil society.
The programme has three channels through which employment opportunities can occur. They include corporate work experience, Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) host placements and SMME development.
While unemployment remains a challenge in the country, government is creating opportunities for young people through programmes such as the YES initiative and Tshepo One million programme.
These initiatives reaffirm government’s commitment to alleviating poverty and unemployment as prescribed by the National Development Plan.