In Chief Mogale Hall, 36 well-deserving local beneficiaries stood ready to receive their new Qhubeka bikes, on which they would soon run their own business – whether in food, entertainment, clothing, jewellery or even a car wash or a sneaker-cleaning service.
The day was a culmination of the first-ever Young Professionals Revolution, which kicked off on Human Rights Day 2019, and is a partnership between Investec Private Banking, Qhubeka and enke: Make Your Mark.
Watch highlights of the day
The Young Professionals Revolution is about change. It sets out to create new and exponential opportunities for young South Africans – not simply helping to alleviate unemployment but turning job seekers into job creators.
Setlogane Manchidi, head of CSI South Africa at Investec, opened the ceremony. “The business ideas developed at the all-night event in March will not be ‘cut and paste’ templates for the entrepreneurs,” he said. “The plans have been individualised for each business.”
“In fact, it’s not the idea that will make a business a success, but how the entrepreneurs embrace and finesse the idea and make it their own,” he added.
Manchidi remarked that it is sometimes a lonely road as an entrepreneur. “You will experience setbacks and you need to foster resilience,” he told the beneficiaries. “But every time you fall, you must choose to get back up.”
Riding to the future
With the distribution of these bicycles, Qhubeka broke the 100 000 mark in the number of bikes the non-profit organisation has given to beneficiaries since it started in 2005.
Matt Fendick, Qhubeka Chief Client Officer, admitted this was one of his favourite projects to work on. “In an environment of persistent poverty and low economic activity, all people want is access to an opportunity, which is what the Young Professionals Revolution initiative has given the beneficiaries,” he said.
Making a mark
enke: Make Your Mark is an invaluable partner in this initiative, as it connects, equips and inspires leaders, not just for today but for the future. In 2019, the organisation celebrated its 10-year anniversary and, to date, its programmes have changed the lives of thousands of young people.
Speaking to the entrepreneurs, their friends and families, Skhumbuzo Mpisane, head of programmes at enke: Make Your Mark commented: “We want to empower these entrepreneurs to challenge the norm, to show that young people are capable of changing society as they find it.”
“You don’t need to be in a big city to make it as an entrepreneur,” he explained, saying that enke: Make Your Mark identified the need for new and innovative business in Kagiso. “The business plans the young professionals designed back in March are now being adapted to accommodate the reality of life in this community.”
Inspiring across borders and cultures
The founders of enke: Make Your Mark, Tom Walsh and Philippa Wheaton, made the journey from the UK to attend the event. Both were instrumental in setting up the organisation in KwaZulu-Natal a decade ago.
“We wanted to create a space where young people are allowed to dream,” Wheaton said. “The stories that emerge from enke: Make Your Mark don’t only inspire people in the local community, but people on the other side of the world.”
She said that it was the sense of a shared goal that would keep the entrepreneurs together. “Often, they are the first in their generation to take on the entrepreneurship road and their peers and families may not understand the path they have set for themselves. While mentors are important, it is your peers that will get you through when times are tough,” she told the beneficiaries
Supporting entrepreneurs on their journey
The Kagiso entrepreneurs had also set up stalls that represented their businesses in the foyer of the hall, for people to browse and ask questions.
The Investec Charity Cycle Challenge, which is part of the Cradle Project, raised funds to secure the Qhubeka bikes for the Kagiso entrepreneurs.
Bronwynn Lewis of Investec Private Banking and Louis Wilkins of Investec Asset Management attended the Kagiso event. They were part of a peloton that took on the coastal route between Cinsta and Coffee Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal Wild Coast over six days in September 2018.