JOHANNESBURG – Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) has spent more than R105 million towards its Bizniz in a Box (BiB) initiatives and most recently, Study Buddy Fund. The company launched BiB, primarily aimed at transforming aspirant entrepreneurs into fully-fledged business owners who can create a livelihood for themselves and others, in 2016.
Through BiB, CCBSA has financially supported and provided training to over 700 entrepreneurs across the country. The Study Buddy Fund was launched in 2021 and has enabled 55 young people from 14 host communities where its facilities are located, to access tertiary education. The fund pays for full tuition, accommodation fees and a monthly stipend.
The two programmes are some of the company’s investments to support government’s efforts to make a dent on the country’s youth unemployment challenge.
“Our youth are resilient and enterprising and have shown that they can start their own businesses to create a livelihood for themselves. But disillusionment remains high and now more than ever we need a focused approach to tackle some of the challenges we face as a country. There is a need for all stakeholders to collaborate and co-create solutions that will bring hope to our young people, be it providing access to education or helping them build businesses”, says Nozicelo Ngcobo, Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Director.
Ngcobo added that youth unemployment is not sustainable. “The country needs to harness young people’s drive, eagerness, and ability to think out of the box and use technology, to succeed. We need to tap into their natural energy and ability to try new things by showing them what is possible. But we must also ensure they are part of the solution and can help birth ideas that they can own”, Ngcobo noted.
“We believe in using our industry leadership to be part of the solution to achieve positive change in the country and build a legacy that we can be proud of. Ultimately, the aim is to contribute towards revitalising our township and rural economies and supporting the country’s development agenda by enabling access to education to help young people acquire the requisite qualifications for them to enter the world of work, and for those that are entrepreneurial, really commit to helping them with start-up capital and sustained support”, Ngcobo says, adding that young people’s representation in business and the potential it has for the country, cannot be overemphasised.
The company believes when companies grow their businesses the right way, not just the easy way, it will help create inclusive growth opportunities for communities and all their stakeholders, for a better shared future.
Glimmers of hope are starting to emerge from South Africa’s economic gloom, none more so than the news on 31 May that the country’s unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2022 had receded from its record high of Q4 in 2021.
According to statistics from the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), unemployment in Quarter 1 2022 declined to 34.5% from the previous quarter’s 35.3%.
The fact that the South African economy gained an estimated 370,000 jobs over the period under review potentially indicates that the worst economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic are receding.
Ngcobo concluded, “It is clear that the number of unemployed drops the higher the education level and the entrepreneurial spirit of a people, so we have to continue to invest in these two important areas”.