President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised young entrepreneurs who have seized opportunities that contribute to the economy and alleviation of poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am very pleased at the combination of foresight, creativity and business acumen displayed by a number of young South Africans who are coming up with home-grown solutions to the contemporary challenges we face,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.
“Some have started small business ventures because of personal circumstances, like losing their jobs. Others who were previously unemployed have seized the opportunity provided by the pandemic to create their own incomes.”
He cited a number of businesses run by young people around the country, including a bicycle-based delivery service in Cape Town’s Langa township.
Cloudy Deliveries is run by a group of youth who use bicycles to ferry goods from shops to residents, especially the elderly who are discouraged from leaving their homes, for a fee.
“Then there is 28-year-old Election Xitsakiso Baloyi, from Mankweng in Limpopo, whose pizza-making hobby turned into a fully fledged business after his family started posting pictures of his creations on social media. With the lockdown preventing people from eating out, he got an avalanche of queries from community members asking if he was selling his pizzas.”
Ramaphosa noted that an increasing demand for personal protective equipment had seen a number of small businesses established to manufacture masks, visors and face shields to supply to businesses and communities.
“Ponani Shikweni, 32, from Alexandra township in Gauteng, has repurposed her linen manufacturing business to produce face masks. She now employs 35 people, most of whom are under 25. She produces more than 1,000 masks a day to order. Her business has already distributed more than 20,000 cloth masks for free to residents of Alexandra,” the president said.
“To keep the nation’s spirits up during the lockdown, our country’s young artists and musicians have taken their talents online, resulting in new business opportunities. One such artist is 18-year-old Judy Jay, a DJ and rising star from Sekhukhune. Her watch parties during the lockdown have attracted the attention of major local and international radio stations, enabling her to promote and grow her brand.”
“Even in our darkest hour, we must look to these green shoots of renewal. They are the silver lining to the dark Covid-19 cloud. Our economic recovery cannot wait until the coronavirus pandemic is over. It needs to start now,” Ramaphosa said.
He called on young people, especially in townships, to take advantage of the opportunities on offer to guide them along the path towards entrepreneurship.
“The conditions may not be ideal. The circumstances may not be perfect. But now is as good a time as ever to start. And you can be assured of our full support,” Ramaphosa said.