Supporting Free State and Gauteng Youth Entrepreneurs through the Bizniz in a box programme

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) in collaboration with the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) will launch an entrepreneurship competition targeted at young people during the month of June. This collaboration comes in the wake of the release of unemployment numbers for the first quarter of 2022. Unemployment is at an all-time high of 34.5% with youth unemployment rate sitting  at 63.9%.

While the country is slowly emerging and recovering from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of employed people across both formal and informal sectors remains around 1.8 million below the level reached before the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020. “This is an untenable situation and as CCBSA, 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. Hence our strong emphasis on economic inclusion, particularly of young people through our Bizniz in a Box (BiB) initiative. There is no single entity that can manage this challenge on its own and we are proud to collaborate with the provincial governments to co-create sustainable solutions that will empower young people’, says Velaphi Ratshefola, CCBSA’s Managing Director.

Ratshefola said the decision to partner with the Free State and Gauteng governments since 2016, was a natural progression towards working jointly to alleviate youth unemployment. “Through our collaboration to empower small, micro, and medium enterprises (SMMEs) by setting them up in businesses, we can go further and also provide incubation and support through training and resources to ensure they grow their businesses, to create livelihoods for themselves and other young people. This can change the quality of their lives”, added Ratshefola.

During the tabling of his 2022/2023 Budget Speech, MEC for DESTEA Makalo Mohale said “key challenges facing the Free State economy remains lack of regulations, barriers to entry, ownership patterns, and insufficient access to financial and non-financial support to SMMEs. “DESTEA entered into this partnership with CCBSA because it believes this is a giant step towards youth development, growth, and investment in the province. Previously, the department supported Free State SMMEs financially and non-financially through its different programmes designed to resuscitate and revitalise the provincial economy. The department is committed to continuing its support and partnering with the private sector to support SMMEs for sustainability, job retention and job creation”, said Mohale.

The Bizniz in a Box initiative could not have come at a more opportune time as the Gauteng Provincial Government uses the month of June to put the spotlight on the province’s youth. Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Parks Tau said, “The department is excited about this initiative and encourages young people in Gauteng to take advantage of it and other programmes aimed at youth empowerment offered by the province, such as Tshepo 1 Million”. MEC Tau stressed that this was but one among many programmes that would be rolled-out throughout the Youth Month aimed at connecting young people to opportunities provided by government and the private sector.

In 2021, the initiative supported 118 entrepreneurs across Gauteng and Free State and the plan is to integrate 135 businesses in 2022 in Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality, Dihlabeng, Ngwathe, Setsoto Municipalities, City of Johannesburg, and City of the Ekurhuleni. “With the staggering statistics, we need to be deliberate about listening and responding  to what our communities needs. BiB is by no means a handout but rather, a holistic support that will enable them to build their businesses and moved to the next level or entrepreneurship,” says Nozicelo Ngcobo, Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Director at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa.

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