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Coca-Cola launches national rollout of Bizniz in a Box

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As more of the economy reopens under Level 2 of the COVID-19 lockdown, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is re-establishing its Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP), which aims to equip township youth with the skills and knowledge they need to potentially manage “Bizniz in a Box” spaza shops.

CCBSA has begun the rollout of its Bizniz in a Box (BiB) initiative, which is in the process of constructing over 100 container business outlets in various provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

“The pandemic has had a devastating and far reaching negative effect on the South African economy,” says Nozicelo Ngcobo, Public Affairs, Communication & Sustainability Director, CCBSA. “The impact will likely be more severe as in many other developing economies, as the country was already in a recession and saw its highest unemployment levels in almost 20 years.”

Youth unemployment is particularly high, and this is the segment most affected by joblessness, with two-thirds of 15 to 34-year-old South Africans being unemployed.

“Even before the pandemic, we were not exploiting the demographic dividend that we have. We can turn our youth into productive citizens by channelling their energy into entrepreneurship. As CCBSA, we believe it is through collaboration between business, civil society and government that we can establish platforms to empower this segment of our society, to create opportunities through which they can create their own livelihoods,” continues Ngcobo.

Piloted in 2015 in the Free State region, BiB was established to make a meaningful and sustainable impact on youth unemployment through the rollout of an enterprise development programme. Since inception, CCBSA has partnered with provincial governments, local municipalities, development finance institutions such as the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) and mainstream banks like Standard Bank, as well as other corporate partners such as Sishen Iron Ore Company, to ensure the success of the initiative.

BiB aims to create an ecosystem of viable micro-businesses offering complementary products and services in township communities, using the spaza shop as the anchor. Each business operates out of a custom-designed container, covering various core needs of the local community, including business centres (internet cafés), car washes, fast-food shops or mini bakeries.

The programme offers young entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn business skills to enable them to grow and run their own small and medium-sized businesses.

The project commences with a recruitment drive at selected townships or villages, where town hall information sessions are held to register interested youth entrepreneurs. The approach to assessment and selection of youth is to incorporate a “Do-Teach” model in which we can assess candidates’ willingness and ability to be successful in the programme. It is also aimed at self-selection, namely, getting youth to understand the rigorous nature of being an entrepreneur and encouraging them to opt-out of the programme at an early stage if they recognise that they may not be suitable entrepreneurs in the long-term.

After meeting certain agreed milestones, including repayment of a determined amount for the set-up costs, ownership of the Container Spaza Shop is transferred to the successful entrepreneurs. This programme is evaluated annually, and lessons learnt are applied to the next phases for roll-out in other regions.

By the end of 2019, through BiB, CCBSA and its partners have trained over 700 young entrepreneurs and helped 125 of them take their businesses to the next level, creating 56 additional jobs by employing shop assistants.

“BiB aims to complete the training cycle by providing them with a fully-equipped retail outlet (in the form of a container) from which to trade immediately,” says Ngcobo. “We are constantly looking to improve every aspect of the programme, from the financing, training, and the quality of entrepreneurs we seek to attract. We know there are many young potential businesspeople in our communities who are ready to take this opportunity, are passionate and understand the commitment it takes to create your own livelihood and make a much-needed positive impact in their communities.”

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