Through our Livelihoods Programme we aim to equip adults and youth with the skills, confidence and support to access and create sustainable livelihoods opportunities in order to achieve financial independence and to stimulate vibrant communities.
South Africa does not have a thriving culture of entrepreneurship and this is especially true in in economically improvised communities and amongst those who were disadvantaged by the apartheid system that provided sub-standard education, disenfranchised the majority, quashed aspiration and undermined agency. Social grants are the main source of income for most of the rural families and currently people collect their grant in the nearest town, and all of the money is immediately spent on buying groceries at large Supermarkets chains, meaning that very little money reaches the villages to stimulate local economic activity.
We have learnt from our previous Enterprise Development Programme that a minority of people truly aspire to being independent entrepreneurs, many other would much prefer to find employment or simply wish to generate some income to supplement other sources. We have therefore recognised the need to adapt our approach to better align with the needs and aspirations of the context of which we are working in. Our livelihoods programme has been restructured to cater for these needs and priorities.
Income generation is designed as a natural progression from the savings group model. By meeting regularly, saving and keeping detailed records, the approach enables groups to build the social capital, fiscal discipline and financial capital necessary to establish a small business. The groups tend to engage in business activities for survival purposes with the main objective of generating cash for consumption and not necessarily to grow their business by reinvesting profits and learning new management skills. The support we provide for these groups matches their aspirations, for example focusing on access to basic financial services to facilitate bulk buying of inputs and improving their access to marketing information. Importantly at this level we provide some basic business training and plenty of mentoring but without the pressure of expecting individuals to become full-time, independently sustainable entrepreneurs.
Uthando - As part of our commitment to supporting rural producers Ubunye has established an umbrella brand called 'Uthando'. Through the Livelihoods Programme we enter into a long-term partnership with individuals and groups who are producing crafts and related products that are suitable for tourists market which then become part of the Uthando product range. We provide potential entrepreneurs with practical support in product development, marketing, sales and sourcing of material.
The Uthando brand is a new project which consolidates most of our previous work with income generation groups. Through this initiative we currently work with five income generation groups producing soaps, beadwork, handmade dolls, hand sewn items and herbal ointments and there are other initiatives in the pipeline.
Life Skills training - We recognise that many of the people we work with would ideally like to find employment so we offer a course that foucuses on the basic skills needed for people to realise their potential, to find and keep employment, or eventually to create their own employment. We researched various models and identified the Thabiso Life Skills Programme developed by the CIE Thabiso Skills Institute as a tried and tested, proven model and we have been fortunate to receive permission and training to implement this course. We run the course over three weeks and it aims to help participants:
- embrace positive values and build trusting relationships
- become more self-aware, develop a more positive self-image and increase thier motivation
- cope more effectively with conflict and criticism
- improve their problem solving and decision making, goal setting and communication skills
- better understand the world of work and the process of getting a job; and
- improve their knowledge of gender and equality, peer pressure, self-control, HIV/AIDS and drug dependency issues.
We have also developed a mechanisms to link participants to further livelihoods opportunities once they have completed the course, for example by establishing:
- a work experience programme with Kwandwe Private Game Reserve (which we hope to expand to other tourism operations)
- an Ubunye internship programme
- various volunteering opportunities within the communities; and
- Channelling interested individuals into other parts of the livelihoods programme such as business training and income generation activities.