To date, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has helped 70 young entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level in a bid to help reduce unemployment in South Africa. Akona Sishuba, Enterprise Development Manager at CCBSA says that the company’s Youth Empowerment Programme aims to identify entrepreneurial youngsters who have the potential to create sustainable, growing businesses.
“We are not looking to give out grants—we are offering an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to access the skills and funding they need to reach their potential,” she says. “We are giving motivated people what they need to succeed because these are the kinds of people that create the corporations of the future. Our philosophy is that we are providing a loan (via the Small Enterprises Funding Agency) and imparting vital skills—we think that the willingness to take on the debt is an important indicator of the calibre of the person we want to support.”
South Africa’s dire unemployment picture is worst in the youth segment, with over 54% of young people unemployed. Another challenge is that South African SMEs only create 28% of jobs (as compared with the 90% targeted by the National Development Plan), with most of them remaining very small or survivalist enterprises. A shocking 70% of SMMEs fail within the first two years.
CCBSA’s research indicates that common challenges that prevent SMMEs from growing are a lack of funding and proper business skills, as well as access to markets.
CCBSA came up with the Bizniz in a Box concept to overcome these challenges. It aims to create an ecosystem of viable micro-businesses offering complementary products and services in a community, using a spaza shop as the anchor. Each business operates out of a custom-designed container. These businesses would cover various needs of the local community, including a business centre/ Internet café, a hair and beauty salon, a car wash, a clothing/ accessories shop, a décor and art outlet, a tailor, a fast-food shop or a mini baker.
The journey begins with a rigorous screening process and psychometric testing to identify candidates within a community that CCBSA is targeting. Shortlisted candidates must be between 24 and 35, resident in the community, and must have entrepreneurial experience. Thirty percent of them will be female.
Thereafter an assessment is conducted to give the potential candidates a chance to show their potential in a live environment. The shortlisted candidates then go on a boot camp to acquire the basic entrepreneurial skills they need to manage their business. The training is rated NQF 2.
After boot camp, candidates spend two months managing a spaza shop to predetermined performance criteria. Those that succeed proceed into the final phase, working in the micro-business they have chosen. The container is outfitted and stocked by CCBSA, and the entrepreneurs are assisted to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements. They now take legal title of the container and begin their repayments to SEFA.
“Bizniz in a Box is constantly being refined to ensure that we find young people with the right attitude and provide them with the help they need to create sustainable businesses that create jobs and contribute to the fiscus. CCBSA is aiming to create 2 500 viable youth entrepreneurs by 2021,” Ms Sishuba concludes. “Programmes like this offer our best hope of reversing unemployment and creating a more inclusive economy.”
To find out more about CCBSA’s Youth Empowerment Programme, and to apply, please visit https://www.abi.co.za/apply-youth-empowerment-program.