Young FS entrepreneurs aim to grow SA economy

Simama Ranta finalists with their school teachers. Photo supplied.

Young entrepreneurs from the Free State travelled to Johannesburg last week to present their business ideas before the Eskom Development Foundation, this as part of the Simama Ranta Schools competition.

Simama Ranta, which means ‘empowering the South African economy’, was initiated in 2010 by the Eskom Development Foundation in collaboration with the Education with Enterprise Trust (EWET). The competition is aimed at identifying and acknowledging South African secondary schools that are leading the way in education initiatives aimed at entrepreneurship. The idea is to encourage learners to seek to be employers that help grow the South African economy.

The winning school, chosen among the nine that represent all provinces, will receive a R100 000 cash prize.

Representing the Free State was ‘Starters Pioneers’ from Taiwe High School in Theunissen. Coming from a disadvantaged community with a high rate of unemployment, the group has learned how to knit various items, make bow ties and bake muffins, which they sell. Their profit goes towards purchasing sanitary towels, toiletries and clothing for child-headed households.

“We come from a very poor community and realised that we shouldn’t always rely on the government for jobs. We felt that it was time to help learners develop skills that will give them success in the future,” said Basetsana Sheane, a learner at the school.

Speaking about his experience so far, Lebohang Phoshudi said: “We learnt that we can make something from nothing to change someone’s life. The competition has inspired us to look at life differently. Through our initiative, we have even empowered parents in our community by teaching them how to knit and market their products. They are now able to put food on the table.”

Percy Masango, Chairman of the competition’s adjudication panel made up of subject experts from the National Department of Basic Education commented, “With the calibre of young entrepreneurs we have seen in the competition so far, I can safely say that our country’s future is looking bright.

Admittedly, it’s going to be tough for the panel to choose a winner, albeit good to see the headway we’re making each year in attracting quality entrepreneurs from the learners. One of the best ways to affect unemployment is nurturing entrepreneurs and this competition goes a long way in achieving that”.

The winning school will be announced at a gala dinner hosted by the Eskom Foundation where they will have a chance to meet some of the country’s innovative entrepreneurs.