THE Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (Wessa) recently launched their Entrepreneurial and Environmental Empowerment for South African Youth (EEESAY) project in 40 schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The project, launched in conjunction with Teach a Man to Fish, received funding of R8.6-million from a European Union delegation and aims to give pupils an opportunity to gain practical business skills.
“Over a period of three years, pupils and educators from these 40 schools will attend training and receive support in topics that will build pupil’s knowledge, skills and confidence towards either becoming entrepreneurs or becoming better prepared for future studies,” Wessa’s s schools programme manager, Sue Spies said.
The project involves pupils from Grade 9 through to Grade 11.
Teachers are required to support these pupils in setting up and maintaining a sustainable business at their schools.
Schools can decide to set up any small business such as a tuck shop, food garden or car wash and are required to establish and run this small business in a sustainable manner.
“A hugely important aspect for Wessa is to teach the youth about sustainable enterprises; the businesses must be good for the earth as well as good for people and profitable. Sustainability is the key to an abundant future,” Spies said.
Wessa are targeting rural and peri-urban areas in the two provinces; the project will therefore be taking place in the Amathole and Chris Hani districts of the Eastern Cape.
Schools within these districts that are taking part in the project include Byletts High School in Mooiplaas, St Matthews High School in Keiskammahoek, Bulelani High School in Queenstown, Mzontsundu High School in King William’s Town and Cathcart High School in Cathcart.
“Both these provinces have the most severe challenges in terms of education, youth unemployment, the dropout rate. There is also a lot more support provided to urban schools, and outlying schools are not supported. We want to work where it matters so we picked districts where we could make a difference,” Spies said.
The EEESAY project is based on the successful School Enterprise Challenge programme run by Teach a Man to Fish, and it is intensely practical in nature.
This international awards programme has already led to 25 profitable student-led businesses in schools in South Africa since 2015, improved exam marks in participating schools in KZN, and enabled pupils to start their own profitable businesses out of school. While still in the beginning phases, Wessa aims to see the same results with the EEESAY project.
“If a young person is able to leave school already able to set-up and run a business, then they can become employers.
“Some young people could establish a business while already at school and then there is a seamless transition from school to work life,” Spies said. Throughout the project, Wessa will support the schools giving workshops through every step of the schools’ business set- ups.
The step-by-step workshops will help students to identify business opportunities, apply sound business planning and implement robust business plans to generate a profit.
“It is fun and exciting to have a real business to run, and the learning is meaningful – the challenges are real challenges that require practical solutions. The teachers all talk about how the project will help learners gain practical skills,” Spies said.