THE ENGINE OF ANY COUNTRY’S ECONOMY are the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs)they power the future and fortify the foundation of the present. So any effort to ameliorate the circumstances of the SMME sector and uplift the players in that space, especially in these times of a ravaging pandemic, can be a much-needed economic panacea.
With the unemployment rate among young South Africans sitting at more than 59%, as President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his 2020 State of the Nation address, it is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions: “Of the 1.2-million young people who enter the labour market each year, approximately two-thirds remain outside of employment, education or training. More than half of all young people are unemployed,” said the President.
And with the Covid-19 pandemic, these numbers are getting exponentially worse, and is a problem that needs interventions from both the public and private sectors. As a company, it’s high up on the agenda for Coca-Cola to play its part in this ecosystem of ‘coordinated solutions’, empowering and mainstreaming the youth to make them valuable players in the country’s economy and make sure they are fully integrated.
“Youth unemployment is very high in our country and it’s untenable. While it isn’t just a South African phenomenon, we have to work together as industry, government and civil society to manage it. We have to exploit our demographic dividend and give young people meaningful livelihoods for them to become productive members of society”, says Velaphi Ratshefola, Managing Director at Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA).
Coca-Cola’s approach to growing communities has always been through empowerment. To target the issue of youth unemployment, one of Coca-Cola’s bottling partners, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa’s (CCBSA) Youth Entrepreneurship Programme created Bizniz in a Box, an initiative launched in 2015 specifically focusing on youth and women empowerment and which has, to date, trained over 700 young entrepreneurs and helped 122 of them take their businesses to the next level.
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August - September 2020