Youth en­trepreneur­ship: Think­ing out­side the box is key

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Tshidi Ramo­gase Ramo­gase is Pub­lic Af­fairs & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor at Coca-Cola South Africa.

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Coca-Cola Bev­er­ages South Africa man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Ve­laphi Rat­she­fola, and Free State Premier, Ace Ma­gashule, open­ing the first Bizniz in a Box in Welkom.

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