CHILDREN from a previously-disadvantaged school in Uitenhage – many of whom are worried about their future – are being taught how to run their own small businesses, and developing new hope for tomorrow.
“I used to feel like I could do nothing,” said Uitenhage Primary learner Shafeeqa September. “Now, I know I can make things [to sell] and I can make money. I have my own business.”
“Before this, I felt sad,” said her schoolmate, Shaunique Davids. “Now, I feel like I can do anything and be everything I want to be.”
The two girls are among a group of 112 children from Grades 1 to Grade 6 at Uitenhage Primary, who have just completed the first 15 weeks of the entrepreneurship programme, sponsored by the Volkswagen Community Trust. The 30-week Young Entrepreneurs (YE) programme falls under the YE Foundation’s community outreach initiative to grow the entrepreneurial mindsets and Financial literacy skills of children in previously-disadvantaged communities – and give children new dreams for the future.
“My daughter Michayla has learned that you don’t have to have money to become something in life, but if you are able to make and sell, people will notice you,” said parent Yolanda Annies.
“As parents, we realise that this programme opens a new world of economic freedom for our children and the community at larger,” said another parent, GG Koetaan.
Angelo Baron, deputy-principal at Uitenhage Primary, said: “[The learners’] exposure to entrepreneurial concepts gives them a sense of empowerment and makes them eager to learn more.”
He said the YE classes were giving the learners “the freedom and space to explore their own creativity and express themselves more freely”, with the result that the children’s confidence levels had grown “in leaps and bounds”.
As part of the programme, the children had to open their own micro-businesses, name and register them, and then create products to sell at an end-of-year market day, where the children’s enthusiasm was obvious.
“The best thing for me was to learn how to make products, so when you are grown up, you know how to open a business,” said Chante Goliath.
“I hope I can continue with this [programme] as I really want to be a businesswoman one day,” said Gretchen Koetaan.
“I learned that I can use anything, e.g. recycled stuff, to make products,” said Mikhayla Gertze.
“I learned that if customers come to your stall, you must smile and talk to them,” said Renice Lessing.
The two facilitators of the programme – Blanche Britz and Cristill Plaatjies – have watched how the programme has made an impact on the children.
“We always get so emotional when we see how our learners grow,” said Plaatjies. “The programme gives our learners hope. One of my learners always cries when he is at school, he even tried to run away once. Now he is always first for our classes.”
“The positive feedback received from learners and their parents about the impact of the programme is awesome,” said Volkswagen Community Trust Stakeholder Relations Manager, Nkosinathi Clay.
“Young Entrepreneurs is a wonderful initiative that will certainly enrich and enhance learners’ knowledge about business, and broaden their ability to choose viable careers in the next five to seven years. It will entice business-minded learners to go for their dreams.”
He said the programme was an “an ideal answer to unemployment in our country” and that Volkswagen Community Trust’s involvement enabled the company to have “far more impact as corporates in communities where our employees are directly coming from”.
Ansulene Prinsloo, who owns the Young Entrepreneurs franchise in Port Elizabeth: “We are inspiring children to dream and empowering them with the skills to become the authors of their own destiny.”