Towards the end of August, training company Business Education Design (BED), with the support of Brand South Africa, the Movement for Economic Freedom (MEFSA) and Hope Church, held the second of what is hoped will become a regular series of workshops on teaching young people how the economy works, and what they can do to contribute to it.
The initiative, called the Youth Economic Development Clubs, aims to promote economic literacy among South Africa’s young people, who will, after all, run the country one day. It teaches them how businesses work, how the economy affects the running of a business and introduces them to common business terminology.
“Young people need to be active participants in the economy,” said co-organiser Henry Sebata, who runs his own consulting and business support company. “But for them to be successful, we must intensify the education component.”
The youngsters received practical training in running a business through a course based on BED’s tried and tested Team Business range of programmes, which includes business tuition for all levels of management from executive downwards, as well as non-financial managers and entrepreneurs.
Sandile Mahlaba, a MEFSA member (as is Sebata), described the organisation’s members as economic freedom fighters, and said that for young people it was more important to understand economics than to understand politics. “We don’t want to inherit an economy that we don’t understand,” he said, “or we will mess it up.”
The program placed participants in real life business situations in the form of a production company, and taught everything from business licences to unions, and all the business fundamentals in between. “This practical component makes the lessons come alive,” said BED director and programme designer Andrew Hofmeyr, “and it motivates the kids.”
The event took place at the community hall in Diepsloot township northwest of Johannesburg. Sebata explained that it was part of the initiation of the economic clubs and that there had been a session held in the Johannesburg suburb of Craighall. “Once we get the clubs up and running,” said Sebata, “the youth will run them for the most part. They’ll organise events, identify guest speakers, and promote the events themselves.”
The initiative is a long-term commitment, he said, and the organisers plan to enlist the support of the corporate sector in arranging visits to companies, securing sponsorships, and inviting prominent businesspeople to be guest speakers at meetings.
Image 1: Teams get down to the business of learning to run a manufacturing company.
Image 2: Using Madibas as currency, the young participants monitored their income and expenditure.
Image 3: Event co-organiser Sandile Mahlaba
(Images: Janine Erasmus) for Media Club