Gauteng offers help to those helping themselves

Wasting no time: Eldorado Park’s Luzhaandre Mackenzie is opening a recycling business. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Wasting no time: Eldorado Park’s Luzhaandre Mackenzie is opening a recycling business. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

  When Luzhaandre Mackenzie completed her diploma in human resources at Westcol College in Magaliesburg last year, she thought her life would change for the better. Finding work, however, proved difficult.

Some of her jobless peers in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, opted to do drugs, but she immersed herself in brainstorming and researching business ideas.

This week she found out that the provincial government will fund her plan for a business – a recycling company called Buy Back Centre – as part of the province’s drive to create jobs.

The 21-year-old plans to employ 13 people from the Eldorado Park area. Her company will collect everything that can be recycled, from plastic bottles and boxes to glass, which it will then resell to bigger recycling companies.

“The initiative is not only about making money but it would help clean the environment. People in our area throw rubbish everywhere. That’s what inspired me to come up with the business idea.

“This is a dream come true. I actually didn’t believe that I’ll get money from government for my business,” she said.

The funding forms part of the provincial government’s strategy to develop the township economy through small business enterprises and create more jobs for the youth. Four other aspiring entrepreneurs from Eldorado Park will also receive funding.

In his state of the province address last year, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said one of his main focuses would be the revitalisation and mainstreaming of the township economy over the next five years.

Through its agency the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP), the Gauteng economic development department allocated R78-million in 2014 to fund several projects aimed at assisting township businesses.

Speaking at the launch of one of the projects, Vuthela, on Tuesday, the economic, environment, agriculture and rural development MEC, Lebogang Maile, said the initiatives were part of a first phase and that his department was planning to create more than 10  000 jobs in the next five years. Gauteng has suffered 195 000 job losses since the beginning of the year.

In addition to providing funding and jobs, Maile said the department has partnered with big companies such as Bidvest to provide training to small business owners.

With a budget of R3.9-million, Vuthela has set an ambitious target of creating 3 500 jobs annually and has already created 132 jobs since training began three months ago. It’s aimed at helping people in Eldorado Park and its surrounding areas to gain skills in more technical vocations such as plumbing and security services.

The Eco Wash project has seen R1.5-million of a R7.2-million budget allocated to 20 small business owners. The project is geared at people who already have informal car washing businesses to provide them with the funds to set up professional outlets.

The GEP has already spent more than R25-million and created more than 200 jobs since 2014 in areas such as Alexandra, Soweto and Mogale City.

Although some of the young people in Eldorado Park and Duduza have welcomed the initiatives, others say they cannot take advantage of opportunities because they don’t know enough about the projects.

Thabiso Noni, who is waiting to register for the next Vuthela trainee intake, says young people in squatter camps are neglected and information is only available to those who live in townships.

“I used to live a life of drugs and crime because that is easier to access than trying to find information on getting a job,” says the 21-year-old, who lives in the Mandela Park informal settlement.

Maile says townships need to become centres for “radical economic transformation to help tackle unemployment”.

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