Neftaly Malatjie is among the many young South Africans who use social entrepreneurship as a means to helping others better their own lives.
At fourteen he established the Diepsloot Youth Project in 2005 out of his own pocket and grew it to what it is today. At first, it was aimed at taking care of the youth in the afternoon. Later, it became a platform to discuss business opportunities.
Now the CEO of the Southern African Youth Project, Malatjie’s passion for entrepreneurship has inspired him to run a hugely successful operation that offers training in life skills and entrepreneurship to better equip the youth for their future.
Malatjie’s main focus has been on youth development, reaching out to various communities in the township to host workshops and programmes that empower the youth to become entrepreneurs.
“I wanted to change the way young people think about themselves,” he says. The training takes place in communities in Gauteng and provides young people with enough skills to help them to get jobs.
Malatjie recognises that tuition is often unaffordable to disadvantaged groups and this forms the motivation behind his initiative. “People can visit one of our centres to get information on the opportunities offered,” he says. The centres host sessions on awareness with regards to issues such as substance abuse, human rights and the effects of HIV/Aids. They also offer skills development ranging from CV writing to personal leadership.READ MORE: Bokang Seritsane – a maverick on the move
“SA has a problem with unemployment and I thought strategically of ways that I could instill hope in people,” he says. Malatjie wanted to offer people the chance to be employed and to earn a living. He’s also put systems in place where, after the training is complete, there’s additional assistance to help young people apply for jobs and liase with companies who consider them.
“We have managed to place 1 280 people into various jobs since the organisation’s establishment in 2005,” he says.
Young adults have been placed in permanent and temporary jobs, learnerships, internships and even established their own small enterprises.
He uses the success story of Gcina Zwane as an example. Zwane was one of the young people who enrolled in one of the programme’s short courses, which include the entrepreneurship programme. This led him to establish his own PC refurbishment business. His business creates new usable systems from old computer parts. Over time, Zwane expanded his business and included the manufacturing of furniture for township dwellers. His business is currently operating successfully in the community of Diepsloot, although he is open to the idea of franchising the business in other areas.
Like many start-ups, Malatjie found funding to be a big problem and the lack of IT equipment became an even bigger hurdle as the centre’s groups grew bigger. To overcome the financial challenges, Malatjie has added a marketing team to help generate solutions. Another roadblock is the programme’s inability to reach more people in the communities due to the limited space in the centres. “We have limited resources,” he says, “which prevent us from reaching everyone.”
Despite these issues which hinder his goals, what keeps Malatjie motivated is his passion for community development. “It’s encouraging to see people finding employment and creating sustainable solutions for themselves and for their families through the organisation,” he says.
Malatjie would like people to remember that without planning, nothing can be built. “The key to an entrepreneur’s success are to always be humble and patient. Anything is possible as long you put your mind to it.”