Youth entrepreneurship: Thinking outside the box is key
COCA-COLA Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) 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.
The programme – Bizniz in a Box – was rolled out last year as part of the company’s youth empowerment programme. It involves the selection of talented young people who are then given training in marketing, sales, stock management and finance, as well as 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 to set up and manage thriving businesses in their communities.”
What sets the programme apart is its incremental process of helping young entrepreneurs operate their own businesses through on-the-job training. The benefit of this approach is that 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.
Participants attend an “entrepreneurial bootcamp”, where they are given the basic business skills they need 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.
They are then allocated a fully-stocked container shop and operate the store for a period of two months. During this time, they need to 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 predetermined performance criteria graduate and proceed to the next phase, going operational.
At this stage, entrepreneurs begin the exciting task of managing their allocated store. This allows them to gain valuable micro-enterprise-related experience under the guidance and support of CCBSA, business development support consultants and mentors. They must then start making monthly repayments towards the start-up capital outlay of the store and inventory. Once the total repayment process has been completed and the entrepreneur meets the predetermined performance criteria, the store is officially handed over to them.
“Bizniz in a Box works on the basis that the youth repay a portion of the capital cost of the store,” says Akona Sishuba, Enterprise Development project manager. “The money that is repaid is invested in future roll-outs of the project, enabling more youth to be supported in their quest to become entrepreneurs.”
Exposure to the programme offers an opportunity to young people to own a micro-business. They are also encouraged to start thinking about other opportunities outside their shop, such as opening a franchised business.
Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa has also committed to exploring and developing a micro-franchise programme supporting township retail development leveraging Bizniz in a Box, as well as the Owner Driver programme that develops logistics entrepreneurs. These will be used to collaborate with the Tshepo 1 Million township economy programme, a partnership to co-ordinate efforts between the government and the private sector to help create opportunities for one million youth in the province.
“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.”
The entrepreneur gets a fully-stocked container shop and operates it for two months, using his or her initiative to promote the store within the community.
Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa managing director, Velaphi Ratshefola, and Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, opening the first Bizniz in a Box in Welkom.