When 32 year old Pesalome Moilwa joined the Youth Enterprise Society (YES) back in 1999 at Thotagauta Secondary School in Welkom, she was taking it as just another extramural activity. She and her peers were told that the programme would help them gain an understanding of the business world. Pesalome had no idea that it would all lead to her becoming a successful entrepreneur, running her own guesthouse.
YES is an initiative run by the Education With Enterprise Trust (EWET) in partnership with the Eskom Development Foundation. The programme also runs in conjunction with the Foundation’s annual Simama Ranta School Entrepreneurship competition, which aims to recognise South African secondary schools that are exemplars in entrepreneurship education.
YES and Simama Ranta seek to empower young people by teaching and encouraging them to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice. They inspire the youth to become job creators instead of job seekers by learning the skills to start and run successful businesses. As we celebrate Youth month and with youth unemployment at alarmingly high levels in South Africa, the importance of such initiatives cannot be overemphasised.
The YES programme has for many years, been equipping young people with the necessary skills to venture into the business world. Moilwa says it gave her the basic foundation and knowledge that sparked her interest in entrepreneurship. “The lessons and case studies help build a learner’s confidence and self-esteem. Your mindset changes, your language skills and behaviour improve as you travel around the country and meet other competitors. After all this I found it easier to unleash my potential and turn my passion into a business idea,” says Moilwa.
Moilwa has been running Welkom-based Rochilla Guesthouse since 2014. She had gotten the idea of opening a guesthouse in 2013 when a political party hosted a provincial meeting in the town and people struggled with accommodation while those who found accommodation complained about the quality of service.
Rochilla has 11 rooms, a dining area, a conference facility, undercover parking and 24-hour security surveillance. The 3-star guesthouse also boasts a beautiful garden, a swimming pool, a spa room as well as a fully licenced bar. With eight employees, this facility has seen many visitors including celebrities, politicians and other high-profile guests.
Moilwa sees opportunities and a huge growth potential for her business, especially considering that Welkom is a mining town surrounded by many agricultural areas. After enjoying some success with her award-winning guesthouse, she wants to expand and grow it into an internationally renowned local attraction in the hospitality industry. “I’m grateful for the launchpad to my business career, the YES programme. It is a great youth empowering initiative which has taught me that opportunities come all the time in many forms while also preparing me for the many challenges that come with being in business,” says Moilwa.