“One of the children’s mothers told me she had been motivated to re-open her business selling vetkoeks,” said Noma Zenzile, one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s facilitators for the Young Entrepreneurs (YE) programme. She has just completed teaching a 30-week programme in entrepreneurial and financial literacy skills to 68 Grade 1 to 7 pupils at Charles Duna Primary School – where about 80% of pupils’ parents are unemployed.
YE programmes are taught at several schools across the Bay and aim to develop an entrepreneurial mindset in children, enabling them to start their own businesses while still in school, and preparing them for a world of work where employment is not guaranteed.
Charles Duna is one of several under-resourced schools across the country benefiting from YE’s community outreach initiative, where learners’ costs are covered by corporate sponsorship.
“The YE programme is helping our children to do things with their hands. It encourages them. My daughter wants to open her own business, and I have learned a lot too,” said Asanda Sixakwe, the mother of Sisipho Sixakwe, 10.
“Every day, my daughter talks about what she has learned [at YE], telling the neighbours and her friends,” said Nobuzwe Gxaweni, mother of Ingamihle Gxaweni, 9. “She is always busy making new things – and saying: ‘Mum, I’m doing this’. I work in security – I work hard for her. But one day, she must do something better than what I am doing.”
At their graduation and end-of-year party, the children could not to wait to share all they had learned.
“At the beginning of the year, I knew nothing about business. Today, I can make bracelets and earrings – and I have made a lot of money from what I have sold. I’m proud to say there’s a lot we can do with our own hands … This is real!” said Siyolise Mpofu, 10.
“I have confidence when I speak to people,” said Angel Mseleni, 12, explaining how she had become one of the class’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Other children said they had learned the difference between needs and wants. They now understand how banks work and understand tax laws – and they know how to create a budget. And the skills they are developing in the YE programme are spilling over into other subjects.
“I was not good at maths but now I am passing. YE helped me with that,” said Ntombizandile Jozana, 11.
“YE is helping the learners to be independent, confident and to motivate others,” said Thembisile Seitshiro, Head of Department for Maths, and Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) at Charles Duna. “They will grow up knowing how to use money and make money by themselves without depending on other people. This is very important as people are not aware that they can make money for themselves. What they have, their hands and minds, they can use profitably. And now that they know, they can teach others.”
“YE has taught me how to manage my own business,” said Nolukholo Ntente, 11.
Ansulene Prinsloo, who owns the Young Entrepreneurs franchise in Port Elizabeth, said the children learned a lot from the practical experience of starting their own businesses: they had to choose a name and logo, register their business, create products and then sell these at a public market day at Walmer Park Shopping Centre.
“The programme is helping children to be better-prepared for the future. By setting up their own businesses one day, they will not only generate income for themselves, but will create jobs for others, contributing to the development of our country and economy.”