The 442 672 matriculants who passed their 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams are now faced with big decisions about their careers and job opportunities and for many, the future looks less than promising. Fees didn’t fall and without a tertiary degree, or a job in a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, these youth all too often become trapped in a destructive downward spiral and become a burden instead of a positively contributing member of society.
To address these challenges, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has funded a new social entrepreneurship programme, Buddibox, which launched in December. Focused squarely on development and job creation – it’s a programme that trains up 18 to 35-year-olds to become entrepreneurs who ultimately become financially emancipated. The launch phase is being piloted in the City of Ekurhuleni with long-term plans to roll out nationally.
A unique concept, Buddibox gives retailers and manufacturers the opportunity to deliver household products (and services) to greater township communities. The service is managed by youth – referred to as “Buddis” – from within the community. The programme launched with 100, but the goal is to have 2 024 Buddis operational by March and at least 10 000 in Gauteng by the end of 2017.
As the face of the organisation, the Buddi’s responsibility is to engage directly with the consumer, using direct sales to secure orders, capture data and build profiles of the families they cater for. Buddibox CEO Isaack Lesole says that each Buddi is allocated 200 households in the Ward in which they reside and they will need to manage this relationship and develop the trust of the community.
“Buddis will canvas communities by walking door to door introducing the service, building a rapport with the households they are responsible for and securing future repeat orders. We will give them access to branded tuk-tuk vehicles which will be used to deliver provisions from the Local Distribution Centres (LDC) to the various homes they service in the ward.”
Lesole adds that prospective Buddis can now start applying for consideration, but he cautions that to be accepted onto the programme they must have a matric certificate and no criminal record. Perhaps more important is they must be a positive, driven, motivated and ambitious self-starter; entrepreneurially minded and want to be in business and economically independent. A partnership has been established with the University of North West and it’s compulsory for each successful Buddi to study through the programme. Buddibox is seeking unemployed and unskilled young people with a view to transforming them into academically empowered entrepreneurs.
“It’s hoped that through the opportunity to earn and develop skills, that those who work with us will go on to become the big business leaders of tomorrow, leading fulfilling, successful lives because they make life-affirming choices today. In so doing they will build a brighter future for themselves and the larger community in which they live and operate,” says Lesole. “While it’s expected that the programme will contribute towards township economic revitalisation, we believe it will also reduce prevalent social ills like crime, drug abuse and alcohol addiction.
Any FMCG goods can be acquired for the family shopping basket – from toiletries to fresh produce. All the transactions happen via an e-commerce platform. A cashless exchange has been set up using online apps and eWallet, thereby ensuring the safety of the Buddi and removing risk. Buddibox will effectively bridge South Africa’s digital divide with this approach.
Offering more than just retail on wheels, Buddis will also gather data from each household that is relevant, accurate, current and verified. Satisfaction surveys, service delivery checks, gather brand research and consumer insights are other services on offer. Government services like application for ID documents, registering for schools etc – all using the electronic device – is also on the cards. This basket of services will grow as the programme’s network matures and expands.
The programme is intended to work alongside existing spazas and tuck shops and will not wipe them out. “Where communities may buy a loaf of bread from the spaza – using Buddibox they can place big monthly orders for supplies that are cumbersome and difficult to carry using public transport,” explains Lesole.
“It’s been said before – the single most important investment any country can make is in its people, but the current education system is not adequately serving skills development and is in urgent need of reform. By the end of Grade 12, we have lost half of every cohort entering the schooling system, which is an alarming statistic. Added to this, since 1994 the employment growth rate has been completely inadequate to reduce unemployment, further raising the level of urgency with which skills development must be treated,” says Lesole. “But Government cannot be expected to do it all. We need to bring about change ourselves.”
Prospective Buddis can apply for consideration via an online portal (http://www.buddibox.co.za/buddi-registration)