The youth of Tshwane, with the help of the municipality and other role players, have rolled up their sleeves and are participating more meaningfully in the economy through the Tshepo 10 000 project.
Tshepo means “hope” in Sesotho. The programme is aimed at helping to eradicate youth unemployment in the City of Tshwane, targeting 10 000 youths.
The multimillion-rand project by the City of Tshwane, which is in collaboration with the University of Pretoria, trains unemployed youth in a rigorous and intensive programme that gives them the skills and expertise needed to tender for procurement projects.
After the training, youth form co-operatives. They are placed in the city’s departments such as electricity and energy, water and sanitation, roads and transport, housing and human settlements and environmental management.
One young person whose life has been turned around by the project is Lebogang Maanga. She is the chairperson of the Lesedi T Ten K Cooperative, which she owns with four partners.
To set up the co-operative, Maanga received a grant from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). They used the funds to buy office equipment.
“We named our co-operative Lesedi because we saw light at the end of the tunnel. The project has provided us with administrative skills such as how to quote for our services.”
Highlighting some of the key milestones in their co-operative, Maanga told SAnews at an event to honour the top performing beneficiaries under the Tshepo 10 000 programme that they have sent out letters of demand on behalf of the city, provided cleaning services at Rosslyn electricity depot, repaired street lights in areas like Soshanguve, as well as erected soccer pitches around the city.
“We are proud because … we have created about 64 jobs,” said Maanga, acknowledging that their journey was not easy.
“At times we faced financial challenges but through hard work, determination, sleepless nights and continuous support from the city, we were able to get here.”
The team is now able to live normal lives and in the process, they have improved the lives of others.
Looking ahead, Maanga said they are “determined to work harder, and not only focus on quantity but also ensure that the service and goods we provide is of high quality”.
Another target is to grow the business and involve more unemployed youth. Another youth, David Makobe - who heads up the Eco Factory project in Ga-Rankuwa’s industrial park produces low cost coffins and school desks.
The project also responds to the Department of Basic Education’s systematic approach to address the needs of schools in their requirement for quality school desks in poor schools across the country.
The desks are made in South Africa from the wood of invasive alien trees cleared by previously unemployed workers.
Makobe said Tshepo 10 000 has helped him understand business and procurement processes a skill he never had before.
Another beneficiary of the project is Lucky Malatji of Hlabollo Primary Co-operative, which deals with the housing and human settlements sector.
Malatji says through the project, they have been awarded a project of ready-mix concrete valued at R200 000 as well as a storm water maintenance project valued at R400 000. He says his cooperative has employed a total of 30 previously unemployed youths.
However, many co-operatives say the main challenge for them is funding.
“There has been resistance from buyers to utilise Tshepo co-operatives. But recently they have started warming up to us,” said one co-operative member.
Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Economic Development in the City, Subesh Pillay, said youth are a key element in Tshwane Vision 2055.
“The city believes its young residents will be the flag bearers and reap the benefits of the city in the future.”
The project has seen the establishment of over 190 cooperatives.