A PROJECT to equip pupils at New Brighton’s Charles Duna Primary School with entrepreneurial skills, may have benefits that stretch far beyond the classroom, and into the community.
“Eighty per cent of my parents here at Charles Duna are unemployed,” said principal Nombulelo Sume.
“We are teaching our pupils not to wait for employment but to create their own employment. We are planting a seed, that even while they are at school, they can create your own businesses.”
Not only is she is hoping the skills learned will help them break the cycle of poverty most families face. But she is also hopeful that the entrepreneurial bug might spread from pupil to parent – and that parents will be inspired to start up their own small businesses.
The Charles Duna programme – which includes 68 pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 7 – falls under the community outreach wing of the national Young Entrepreneurs (YE) programme, which was introduced in Port Elizabeth earlier this year, to equip youngsters with the tools to run their own businesses and manage their finances.
YE’s outreach initiative sees private sector sponsors working in partnership with the YE Foundation Trust, to ensure that less fortunate children can also benefit from the formal YE programme, which in Port Elizabeth is being attended by pupils from nine Bay schools.
Sume said: “The children are making products which they are going to sell at a market day – and I’ve told them they must use the money they make, to buy more materials to make and sell more products … I have told my parents that we want their support with the programme, whether their child is in Grade 1 or Grade 7. I’m hoping some parents will team up with their children, to make their own family businesses.”
The pupils’ products range from decorative gift bags to bracelets, earrings and brooches, to stationery holders, bird feeders and picture frames.
Sume said the programme was “taking kids off the streets”, and away from the temptations of “drugs and early sex”.
“I like saving money – and I enjoy working with people,” said Lolwethu Ludada, 12, putting the final touches to her colourful photo frames. “I want to be a fashion designer when I’m older.”
“I want to be a doctor,” said Siyolise Mpofu, 10. “I’ve enjoyed learning how to make bracelets and am looking forward to selling them, and making some money.”
Parent Bongiwe Sixakwe said she was hopeful her daughter, Phumelela, 7, would be able to “build her own business in future”.
The formal YE programme runs for 30 weeks a year (15 weeks Entrepreneurship and 15 weeks Financial Literacy), and caters for Grade 1 to 9 learners.
“The YE programme offered at Charles Duna, which is also offered in Port Elizabeth and around the country to fee-paying learners from other schools, has proven to be very successful in developing participants’ entrepreneurial and financial skills,” said Ansulene Prinsloo, who owns the Young Entrepreneurs franchise in Port Elizabeth.
“The children gain invaluable business-, life- and financial literacy skills from the practical experience of starting their own business, which entails among others, coming up with a name and logo, registering the business, creating and manufacturing products and then selling these at a market day. They also learn how to manage their money, with a strong focus on saving, spending, sharing and investing.
“With high unemployment rates accompanied by low economic growth rates, our children as the next generation need to be more entrepreneurial-minded to ensure that they have a sustainable future. By setting up their own businesses, they will not only generate income for themselves, but many more jobs will be created – contributing to the development of our country and economy.”
Sume said: “I’ve told the children: I need to see your shops when you are older!”