Ex-convicts equipped with entrepreneurial skills to start new lives
FOUR ex- convicts have been awarded the tools to turn their dark pasts into bright futures, after graduating with certificates in entrepreneurship.
The group received their certificates at a graduation ceremony held in Salt River yesterday, organised by the Young in Prison South Africa organisation.
The non- profit organisation works with formerly incarcerated youth, to equip them with the skills to positively reintegrate themselves into society.
Young in Prison SA operations manager, Jennifer Hage, said the organisation had various programmes like the Siyakhana Programme, which the four participated in.
“Our aim is to give tools to the young people of South Africa who come out of prison to keep them growing. We want to equip and enable them to start their own businesses as it is hard for ex-convicts to find jobs because of criminal records. The only challenge we are facing as the organisation is funds. However, we call on the public to help out,” said Hage.
Siyanda Dywili, 29, from Khayelitsha, is one of the graduates. He previously served four years in prison for murder, and said being part of this initiative had been a privilege.
“I am happy and joyful that today I am holding my entrepreneurship certificate. In two years’ time, I see myself owning a gallery in my community, and my aim is to fight poverty and to keep young people of my community off the streets,” Dywili said.
Andile Cele ,23, of Kraaifontain, is another graduate. Cele grew up on the streets of Cape Town, and said he was grateful and proud about earning his certificate.
“I grew up with no parents, I don’t even know what parent love is and that is what led to my arrest at the age of 16 because I was on the streets. That is where I got exposed to drugs, but I am happy and proud to say that I am officially a graduate.”
He said that as an ex-convict, it was difficult to secure employment.
“I’ve learnt so much while attending the programme. Now I see myself running and owning a mobile coffee cafe,” he said.
Strand resident Azania Nkqezo, 23, said the programme had equipped him with the knowledge to establish an organisation that aimed to unite Western and African styles, to promote oneness through fashion.
Siphamandla Lumkile, 25, also from Strand, said he hoped to run a cycling programme once he had enough funds to do so.
“The aim of having a cycling programme in my community is to promote healthiness because cycling is good for our bodies and health,” said Lumkile.