Carv­ing out a bet­ter fu­ture

Vuk'uzenzele - - Ruralgdeenveerlaolpment - More Mat­shediso

YOUNG­STERS from a ru­ral Mpumalanga com­mu­nity are craft­ing a liv­ing for them­selves as fur­ni­ture mak­ers, thanks to a learn­er­ship, state fund­ing and self-ini­tia­tive.

Afew years ago, gov­ern­ment en­cour­aged young peo­ple to es­tab­lish co-op­er­a­tives to help ad­dress is­sues of youth unem­ploy­ment, in­equal­ity and poverty.

It also put mea­sures in place to en­sure that once these co-op­er­a­tives are estab­lished, they get fund­ing from var­i­ous state en­ti­ties and the pri­vate sec­tor.

A group of young peo­ple from Diep­dale in Mpumalanga heeded the call and started Themba Labasha Fur­ni­ture Pri­mary Co-op­er­a­tive Limited, which is grad­u­ally chang­ing their lives and cre­at­ing jobs for fel­low com­mu­nity mem­bers.

They use solid wood, lam­i­nated pine and pine board to make fur­ni­ture for clients, in­clud­ing clin­ics, schools, hos­pi­tals and in­di­vid­u­als.

One of the co-own­ers of the co-op­er­a­tive, Man­qoba Ng­wenya, spoke to Vuk’uzen­zele about how it all started and the progress made so far.

Themba Labasha means hope for young peo­ple

“We came up with the name be­cause most young peo­ple in our com­mu­nity are un­em­ployed and poverty is real. So we had to be strate­gic about our brand be­cause we en­vi­sioned own­ing a com­pany that would cre­ate jobs,” he ex­plained.

The co-op­er­a­tive was started by nine young peo­ple in 2014.

“We had just com­pleted a car­pen­ter learn­er­ship with Ko­mati­land Forests and the co-op­er­a­tive was our an­swer to the ques­tion: ‘What now?’” he said.

Five of the orig­i­nal nine are still in­volved and two of these are women.

Af­ter reg­is­ter­ing the co-op­er­a­tive, Themba Labasha ap­plied for fund­ing and re­ceived R50 000 from the Na­tional Youth De­vel­op­ment Agency to pur­chase ma­te­rial.

The co-op­er­a­tive hired three more peo­ple on a tem­po­rary ba­sis and hopes to cre­ate more jobs in the fu­ture.

“How­ever, we need more ma­chin­ery in or­der for our busi­ness to grow. We also need ve­hi­cles so that we can de­liver our prod­ucts to our clients.”

The co-op­er­a­tive re­cently won an award in the forestry ex­cel­lence cat­e­gory of the 2018 Youth in Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries Awards and walked away with a prize of R100 000.

Man­qoba Ng­wenya is on his way to estab­lish­ing a lu­cra­tive fur­ni­ture busi­ness.

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