Nyanga residents will benefit from a R5 million investment by a glass manufacturer which is steering 60 disadvantaged youths towards a better future through its upholstery incubation programme.
Consol Glass announced the investment, which will be over five years, on Wednesday March 16, towards the Nyanga-based programme.
The precondition of the project is that it should have an everlasting impact on the lives of women and youth by creating sustainable job opportunities.
The project is a partnership between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), Local Economic Department of the City of Cape Town, and the Furniture Technology Centre Trust (Furnetch), which will provide business technology incubation facilities for new and existing businesses in the furniture and wood product sector.
It is aimed at upskilling women and youth between the ages of 18 to 35. The idea is to encourage them to start their own businesses. It is hoped the programme would skill 70 percent women, with at least 10 businesses up and running.
As part of the programme, three groups of 12 students will be trained during the five years. The first group is already being trained, with intake for the second group scheduled for the end of the month.
The company’sgroup human resources director Thami Mkhuzangwe said the initiative is key to addressing challenges faced by the society, including high unemployment.
“We are humbled and yet excited to be part of this project. It is a robust partnership. This project also forms part of Consol’s application for mining rights in Philippi and should the application be successful, its involvement with Furntech is likely to continue beyond the five years originally agreed to,” he said.
Mr Mkhuzangwe said the goal was to improve the quality of life in previously disadvantaged communities, enhancing their ability to help themselves.
Duduzile Kunene, from the mineral resources department, commended the company for promoting job opportunities.
“We need to invest in young people. And small businesses is the way to go to create jobs. This project talks straight to that. We are happy to be associated with this project,” she said.
Ms Kunene said the lack of skills was a major issue that needed to be addressed.
Students were encouraged to take their studies seriously. Speakers commended them for taking up the challenge to do upholstery. Furntech board member John Mortimer said he was proud that thousands of students had come out of the programme to start their own businesses. He thanked the City and other stakeholders for assisting. “To the learners, I hope they will make a success out of the programme. They form an integral part of Furntech. I hope for success and good stories coming out of here,” he said.
Sisipho Mgedezi, a student, said confidence and hard work landed her in the programme. She promised to be one of the shining stars on the programme. She said low self esteem had crushed the dreams of many a township youngster and urged them to fight for what they wanted to achieve.
Businesswoman and Furntech graduate, Ellen Pontshi is adamant that young people will come out of the project well-skilled. The owner of Liwalaphakade Coffin and Casket said she leant a lot from Furntech.