A RECENT report by the Thompson Reuters Foundation ranked South Africa as having the second best environment for social entrepreneurs in Africa, after Nigeria.

Considering South Africa’s subdued economic growth and worryingly high level of unemployment, particularly among the youth, social entrepreneurship may offer a solution that boosts the economy while addressing some of the country’s pressing social issues. This is according to Gugu Mjadu, the spokesperson for the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam and other partners. She is encouraging South African youth to look within their own communities for opportunities to serve a social purpose, while generating income and creating employment from business activities. “The youth unemployment rate, according to recent Statistics SA data, currently sits at a staggering 55.2%, with job opportunities in the formal sector being few and far between.

Social entrepreneurship offers this vulnerable group of job seekers a unique way to create their own informal employment, based on the current needs that they identify within their own communities.” However, while young social entrepreneurs may be hungry for opportunities and possess the vision needed to change South Africa for the better, Mjadu noted that they cannot do this on their own. “The budding young social entrepreneurs of South Africa need support from all major stakeholders – both public and private – to achieve their vision.

“From a private sector perspective, this is where enterprise and supplier development can come into play. Business competitions, such as the annual Entrepreneur of the Year, can also play an important supportive role in terms of stimulating this entrepreneurship and providing incentives for business success,” she added. Mjadu mentioned the competition’s 2018 Judges Prize winner, Beverley Gumbi, as a prime example of this. “One of our past competition winners, Beverley Gumbi, is the founder and owner of Isivuno Container Business – a container conversion, rental and supply company that offers a creative solution to the dire shortage of infrastructure and service delivery in both urban and rural communities in South Africa.” Gumbi said that she is particularly driven by the prospect of making the community, country and ultimately the continent better.

“I want to contribute to local economic growth and socially sustainable development through the manufacture, design and supply of ‘fit for a purpose’ converted shipping containers and park homes for communities and SMMEs at extremely competitive rates. “A great example of this was the National Lottery project which entailed the establishment of an early childhood development site. We provided container classrooms, kitchens, ablution facilities, offices, installed a JoJo tank, and more.

“When the project was finished, I was struck by the fact that just a few weeks before it had been a bare piece of land, and when we left it was filled with happy staff members and children – that’s an incredibly rewarding feeling,” Gumbi said. Mjadu said: “This just goes to show how, with the right level of support, social entrepreneurs have the ability to not only drive social change, but also effect great economic change by creating new employment opportunities at a time when South Africa needs them most.”

Supplied by Sanlam

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