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Youth urged to be innovative

The participants at the Coca Cola's Youth Empowerment Programme

Aspiring youth entrepreneurs in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, were offered a chance to realise their dreams of owning a business today, when Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA) launched the next leg of its successful Youth Empowerment Programme in the town.

Opportunities to operate and eventually own a spaza shop are up for grabs in a rigorous selection process that assesses the candidates’ ability to manage their own business.

Known as Bizniz In A Box, the programme combines theory and practical training of young entrepreneurs in need to make a success of their own start-up spaza container store. It aims to promote the development of self-driven young people, creating access to the mainstream economy – not as job seekers, but as job creators.

The launch in Bushbuckridge kicked off today with four town hall recruitment sessions to which youth between the ages of 24 and 40 were invited.

Interested youth are registered for the programme and then undergo a competency assessment, including psychometric tests, numeracy skills, English, literacy and business skills.

The process is designed to identify youth best suited to the rigours of entrepreneurship.

Promising candidates advance to a boot camp, where they are put through their paces in exercises such as practical selling, business pitching and marketing.

After a month of classroom and practical exercises, it’s time for those selected to jump in the deep end and start operating their own container stores.

They must use their own initiative to promote their store within the community – using direct marketing, promotions, and other tools.

Once the two-month immersion process is complete, the containers are handed over to successful entrepreneurs who meet performance criteria.

“Mass youth unemployment is a tragic waste of human potential that crushes dreams and breeds despair,” said CCBSA District Manager Robin Scherpenhuyzen.

“We cannot, as a caring, responsible business, sit back and watch our youth drifting into a life of unemployment that will ultimately turn into hopelessness.”

The company’s Youth Empowerment Programme was launched in Welkom in the Free State in 2015 and has since been extended to towns in North West province, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and now Mpumalanga.

The Bushbuckridge leg of the project will see the company partnering with the Bushbuckridge Municipality, supported by the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) as the overall partner, to bring CCBSA’s entrepreneurial solutions to the youth of Mpumalanga.

“There is no longer time to sit on the fence. Unemployment and poverty are serious problems that all levels of society must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep our nation’s youth productively engaged – helping to create a path towards a better future,” said Scherpenhuyzen.

“This conviction is the basis of CCBSA’s Youth Empowerment Programme and we are very excited to bring it to Bushbuckridge.”


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