Working To Support The Youth - Business Media MAGS

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Working To Support The Youth

Denise Mhlanga looks at some impactful youth organisations supporting youth entrepreneurship and social innovators within their communities.

Evexia Psychiatric Day Hospital Adolescent Programme 

This Pretoria-based hospital was established in 2015, and its adolescent programme offers optimal mental healthcare to the youth through holistic mental and physical health interventions.

Kgomotso Mangolela, social worker and programme manager, says the programme exists to help young people navigate everyday challenges. During the 10-day programme, young people work with psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, social workers, and professional nurses to assist them in dealing with their mental health challenges.

“The programme is a safe group space, enabling young people to work through their past experiences and equip them with new skills to cope outside of the programme,” says Mangolela.

She says young people with mental health issues learn communication, boundary-setting, time management, self-care, and conflict management skills during the programme, thus equipping them to cope.

“Young people who’ve been through the programme come out with a better understanding of their behaviours, and gain a sense of independence and increased self-awareness.”

Mangolela says there is a stigma surrounding mental illness, but this can be overcome through awareness campaigns and encouraging young people to seek help and talk about their mental challenges.

“Investing in your mental health at a young age will allow you to lead a fulfilling life as an adult,” concludes Mangolela.

South African Breweries Foundation

Established in 2010, the South African Breweries (SAB) Foundation provides funding for small, medium, and micro enterprises. Its primary beneficiaries are women, youth, people living with disabilities, and people living in rural areas, from low-income backgrounds.

Itumeleng Dhlamini, SAB Foundation social innovation specialist, says the company has invested over R425-million in social innovators and entrepreneurs through grant funding, business development support and interest-free loans.

Some 2 843 rural micro enterprises, 173 social innovators, and 996 entrepreneurs have been supported with 94 per cent of these businesses still in operation.

“Our programmes are designed to holistically develop sustainable entrepreneurship skills for our participants with a key focus on critical thinking and long-term business mentorship,”says Dhlamini.

The foundation has several enterprise programmes, including the flagship Tholoana Enterprise Programme, which supports rural businesses and businesses outside of major supply chains. Of these businesses, 49 per cent of beneficiaries are youth entrepreneurs, 48 per cent are women, and 3 per cent are people living with disabilities.

SocioNext is a five-day acceleration workshop in peri-urban and rural areas targeting the unemployed, of which 63 per cent are young people. Other initiatives include the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment awards, The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Fund and the Universities Student Seed Fund, which is open to past and current university students.

Dhlamini says the biggest challenge remains long-term income solutions for the youth and people living with disabilities, adding that there is a huge need to grow sustainable businesses.

Youth Employment Service (YES)

The Youth Employment Service (YES), a business-driven initiative, was founded just over three years ago to address high unemployment.

The organisation partners with government and labour to create work experiences for youth at scale. Businesses that partner with YES can increase their Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBBEE) scorecard ratings.

“Our young people are more than future customers for businesses and the future tax base on which our economy will stand,” says Leanne Emery Hunter, chief marketing officer of YES.

YES has worked with nearly 2 000 South African companies to create more than 78 872 work experiences for young people. This has seen nearly R4.4-billion injected into communities and the economy through youth salaries.

During the 12-month programme, the youth are given smartphones with applications that deliver digital, work-readiness and soft skills training. The apps also track the youths’ socioemotional shifts during their YES year.

On completion, young people get CVs, a reference letter and a completion certificate as evidence of work experience for future employers. Yes’s own research has shown that experience on a CV triples the chance of a callback in the first three months of a job search.

gold Youth Development Agency 

Established in 2004, the gold Youth Development Agency champions youth-led change through a peer education model in secondary schools in five African countries.

The organisation has reached around 90 000 young people in over 120 communities, trained 27 529 gold peer educators (teenage leaders) and facilitated 1 894 job placements, among other achievements.

“Youth are the solution to their problems, and it is time we start to recognise their potential and harness that to find solutions to changing the status quo,” says Fiona Milligan, communications and content specialist at gold Youth Development Agency.

She says through various intensive youth training and mentorship programmes coupled with full-time youth facilitators at schools, between 2018 and 2021, there has been a 32 per cent increase in school performance and commitment to education.

A number of children and the youth have shown positive character attributes with over 50 per cent increase in work readiness and employability.

Peer education is an effective methodology to achieve positive youth and community change that is ground-up and youth-led. “Our experience confirms that young people change when others around them change, this has been demonstrated and lived out within the peer groups and carried through to the community context.”

Sage Pathways

In 2021, Sage South Africa implemented Sage Pathways, a support, development, training and recruitment programme designed to help people with disabilities get into or return to work.

To launch the programme, Faith Ramusetheli, transformation director for Sage Africa and Middle East, says they hosted virtual work-readiness sessions such as interview tips, assessment centre skills, personal branding and returning to work with confidence.

“We work closely with specialist recruitment organisations and the Sage Foundation charity partners to specifically target people living with disabilities.”

She says a second event will be held in June for young people aged 18–35. Sage has recruited 13 interns living with disabilities to its customer services and finance operations.

“Importantly, we have created increased awareness in our workplace about the barriers people living with disabilities face at work, as well as creating an environment where colleagues with disabilities know they are valued and supported.”

Ramusetheli says an estimated 7.5 per cent of the population live with a disability, and less than 1 per cent of these people are employed, adding that there is poor representation of disabled people in the workplace. “We aim to be an inclusive organisation, hence we are committed to supporting and investing in the lives and careers of young people with disabilities.”

E Squared Social Enterprise

E Squared Social Enterprise provides funding to organisations focused on youth employment and entrepreneurship.

Its MeMeZa Ikasi Secure project addresses a very pressing need for technology-empowered safety and security at household level, says Megan de Villiers, E Squared Investments lead communications specialist.

“The company has deployed R351.2-million in financial and nonfinancial support to various enterprises and entrepreneurial individuals and created almost 14 000 jobs.”

MeMeZa empowers the most vulnerable communities with tangible safety technology, linked directly with community policing forums, the community and the South African Police Services. Through this project, a 67 per cent reduction in sexual offences in Diepsloot has been reported, and 1 045 youth have been trained, among other successes.

Nine young people were chosen for the current 18-month business skills programme, and have access to sell the Casi Mobile Panic App and the MeMeZa Community Alarm System as part of their businesses.

“The MeMeZa Ikasi Secure project not only empowers young people to create sustainable businesses, but also helps create safer communities,” she says, adding that this is a positive step towards addressing crime in townships like Diepsloot

Faith Ramusetheli

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