For young entrepreneurs like Thabiso Sebata and his partners, business will never be the same again.
This is after they spent the day with the Gauteng MEC for economic development, Qedani Mahlangu, and other influential business people on 21 October at the Alexandra Stadium.
Mahlangu was in town to launch Y-Age, a public-private partnership that looks at practical ways to stimulate and sustain an entrepreneurial culture in South Africa. The mission and vision of Y-Age is to find and identify 100 000 entrepreneurs in Gauteng to assess their needs, train and fund them through various sources.
Speaking at the launch, Mahlangu encouraged young people who had great entrepreneurial ideas but not the money, to register on the Y-Age database. The database will be made available to big companies and government departments.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. If you snooze you lose. Do not blame government tomorrow that it did not do anything for you,” she said.
She had high praise for Start Media Design, a graphic design company run by Sebata and two partners, Mandla Duka and Itumeleng Sebata. She said she was pleased to see young people with such creativity and potential to positively contribute to the economy of the province and the country.
She also encouraged the trio to make sure that their company was listed on the Y-Age database. Mahlangu’s department will then recommend its services to companies.
Sebata, who blushed at the compliments, said: “This is actually just the favour of God and we are going to make sure that we use this opportunity given to us to make sure that we grow our business and grow as individuals.”
While the business was started in 2009, he said, it was only registered earlier this year. The company specialises in design, branding, advertising and photo shoots.
Sebata is an accidental graphic designer. He did not study the discipline; rather, when he was young, he thought he wanted to be an architect. But after a year of studying architect with Wits University, he realised it was not for him.
He jumped ship to graphic design because, “it allows a whole lot of creativity”. He taught himself using online tutorials, he said.
Also at the Y-Age launch was the City’s deputy chief Whip of council, Justice Ngalonkulu, who was on hand to represent Joburg. He said the City fully supported the initiative. “Any opportunity presented to fight poverty and unemployment must be used.”
He also mentioned that Joburg had a similar programme aimed at reducing unemployment among young people. It had set aside R2-billion to help establish and develop small, medium and micro enterprises.
“We are still the municipality that makes the biggest contribution to economic development in the country,” Ngalonkulu explained.
By Makoena Pabale, Joburg.org