By: Sethu Tshabalala

One of my favourite projects to execute so far with the Global Shapers community has been the Financial Literacy Project in Mamelodi.

The project began in 2017 during my first year as a hub member. We had the support of Allan Gray; learning material from the Banking Association of South African and our then project lead and hub member Brendon Kilpatrick. Over the past two years I’ve watched this project grow from 50 students in one school to over 120 students in two schools in Mamelodi.  

The vision is simple: we were going to use start-up capital from sponsors to loan to grade 8s and 9s interest free to start their own business.

Learners from the schools are placed in groups of three to five. Over weeks we provide lesson on business and we give the students cash to start their own business. Any amount of money they make as a profit they keep. The capital returns to the project for the next program. The project has already seen success in our first class from 2017, “Girls on A Mission”, who are still running the business they began through this project.

During my volunteering on this project in 2018, it became clear to me that this project is where my professional skills, Accounting & Finance, meets my true passion, education. As a result, I put my hand up to lead the project in 2019.

Great news came early for us in my time as project lead, through the work of Rivonia Pillay and Shamiso Kumbirai (2018 curatorship), Thembile Ndlovu and I.  We received R20 000 in capital during January 2019 from the Nedbank Group to roll out the project at our two pilot schools: Bona Lesedi School and Phateng Secondary School.

There are however challenges including sustainable funding annually. The Hub relies heavily on sponsorship to provide meals and transport to assist learners during the sessions.

With funding secured early this year, it was easier to begin the next key activity: the project plan and strategy. With the support of the school principals, I met with school staff on the 1st of February to determine how we could best serve the schools considering these challenges.

The outcomes from the discussion were promising, as we worked together to find ways to ensure consistent student attendance, brainstorm how best to supply locally sourced meals and transport. We also agreed on finding dates to execute the project which don’t interfere with the school calendar.  

While we have some way to go, I am very excited to be working with local schools in Mamelodi to help uplift and empower the lives of young students through education and training. We look forward to sharing the execution and success of this project with our stakeholders, potential investors; project sponsors: Nedbank Group, Allan Gray, community members within Mamelodi and fellow GS Hubs in South Africa.