When Promise Machimane, 32, was retrenched from her bank job, she struggled to find employment for a number of years, a story that thousands of young people can relate to.
Despite the depressing period of unemployment after having lost her job with six years of experience, Machimane decided to establish a company with just a capital of R1 000.
She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mia Sanitary Towels and Mia Foundation. Her company manufactures sanitary towels and baby diapers.
She hails from Tzaneen in Limpopo but is currently based in Mamelodi in Tshwane.
SAnews spoke to Machimane at the end of the official programme of a meeting with business leaders on the National Development Plan (NDP) Brand Ambassadors Programme.
The session was hosted by the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and chairperson of the National Planning Commission, Jeff Radebe, accompanied by his Deputy Buti Manamela.
Machimane said: “If I could start a business with R1 000 and become a multimillionaire in few years, it means I can help a lot of people to be like me anywhere in the country.”
At the moment, Mia Sanitary Towels has created just about 157 jobs in the country and it is hoping to create more. “We are soon going to employ another 27 young people in the North West.”
The company has about 88 distributors across the country.
In the beginning, Machimane said, it was hard to penetrate the retail market, so the company decided to establish franchises across the country, of which there are about five.
“We manufacture our products with a focus on low costs markets but we ensure that they are of high quality.”
She said Mia does not only sell in South Africa but also exports its products to Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania, and it is also looking into penetrating Lesotho in the near future.
Machimane dreams of producing more products that are needed in South Africa.
“The whole idea is to support businesses that are based in rural areas and townships, so that local entrepreneurs do not feel a need to leave their homes to look for opportunities anywhere else. Supporting emerging businesses is crucial because when we succeed in supporting one another, we will end up buying more of our local products.
“We create a platform for other people to establish their businesses within our own company. This we do by training them and ensuring that they are fully set up to branch out so that they will be able to sustain themselves in their local areas.”
There were close to 30 young people who attended the meeting, together with the DPME’s stakeholders, who gave their brief profiles with the hopes of becoming NDP Brand Ambassadors, which the department will soon elect.
The young people included entrepreneurs and academics, who have projects that have the potential to create jobs and address many issues that could help grow South Africa’s economy and advance development.
The meeting was aimed at introducing the NDP Brand Ambassador Programme to the business sector, foster strong relationship on youth entrepreneurship and encourage active citizenry, within the premise of the six pillars of the NDP.
The six pillars of the NDP include mobilising all South Africans, actively engaging citizens in their own development, expanding the economy and making growth inclusive, building key capabilities (human, physical and institutional), building a capable and developmental state and fostering strong leadership throughout society.
The DPME NDP Brand Ambassador Programme is premised on action to champion youth entrepreneurship, boost economic growth, increase employment, and reduce poverty and inequality.
The meeting explored ways in which government, youth and business can collaborate in the objectives of investing in local innovators and entrepreneurs that will ultimately create jobs that are required to grow an inclusive economy, as envisaged in the NDP.
Addressing delegates, Minister Radebe said government takes cognizance of the fact that young people bear the brunt of unemployment in South Africa.
“Our massive unemployment rate rose to a staggering 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017. Young people are at the bottom of the economic hierarchy and mostly bear the brunt of unemployment.
“Our economic indicators show that the youth remains the hardest hit by the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. These are some of the challenges that we must collectively address with the urgency that they deserve. Youth unemployment breeds social ills such as drug abuse, rampant crime and violence.”
He said it is important to note that the scourge of unemployment is not a government problem alone. It is a societal problem, and that youth development is a matter of national importance.
“To ignore the plight of the youth will be a major risk in the socio-economic condition of our country. Let us join hands and wage a fierce fight against youth unemployment.
“The NDP Brand Ambassador Programme is an endeavour aimed at providing a platform for young people to share ideas that will take South Africa forward.
“This is a very important venture to ensure that the youth are self-sufficient. The youth of today are the ones who will witness the fruition of our Vision 2030.”
The Minister said youth must be the key drivers of NDP programmes today. – SAnews.gov.za