Open letter to Oprah Winfrey: Plight of South African Youth - HELP

Subject: Open letter to Oprah Winfrey: Plight of South African Youth - HELP
From: Lydia Zingoni
Date: 22 Jun 2014

Open letter to Oprah Winfrey: Plight of South African Youth - HELP

I am well aware of your work in South Africa and your generosity towards the betterment of some of the young people. Currently we have close to 50% of the youth between the ages of 15-25 are out of school and unemployed. In 2009 after observing a number of young graduates coming out of university and failing to secure employment at the same time eager to start their own businesses, I realized that the this situation was widespread. I asked myself a question “If graduates are finding it hard to get jobs, what more of those that do not have such qualifications? And should we not as a country be teaching and instilling a culture of entrepreneurship in the very young”. I further asked myself “what should we doing as a country to minimize the current situation?”. I came to the conclusion that we needed to start instilling a culture of entrepreneurship in our schools and communities. This was quite a shift from the country’s position of education for a job to a learn to earn while learning philosophy.

My first stop after leaving the corporate world was create an NPO (Not for Profit), SA Teen Entrepreneur Trust/Foundation and then to meet with the education authorities and convince them that as a country we needed to introduce entrepreneurship in our schools. I must say there was quite some resistance as the education system was facing far worse challenges in just improving the maths and science levels. In some schools the challenges were even greater in improving basic reading and writing skills. Therefore I made little impact. I developed some workshops that could only be taken by school going children during the holidays or at weekends. There was very little funding for such programs and workshops that I ended up using some of my savings to get the training going as most of the children that registered could not afford to pay the full workshop fees. To date we have taken through some 450 kids through some of our workshops. We feel that this is a very tiny portion of the youth in schools population. We also want to impact those young people out of schools. We have also noticed the shift in perceptions around introducing entrepreneurship to young people. We feel that we need to take advantage of this shift and move fast in the schools that are now ready to embrace entrepreneurship as a changing agent.

The current population of teenagers in South Africa is close to 18 million. There are approximately 27,000 high schools in South Africa with an average intake of 600. This means that about 16 million of the teenage population is still in schools and therefore we need to put in more effort in reaching them before they leave schools and plant a culture of entrepreneurship in them now. The only way we have devised is to create Entrepreneur Societies in the schools. The time allocation for such will be the same as the schools allocate for the other societies or clubs. We will identify Champions within each school eg the life orientation teacher or the Business Science Teacher. Typically a society will need about 30 – 50 members. Once the society has been formed, we will need R20,000 (US$2000) to train, and equip the members . Each established society will register with the through SA Teen Entrepreneur’s Association of High School Entrepreneur Societies to ensure that monitoring of progress is co-ordinate. In a perfect world where all 27,000 high schools establish such societies, we will need R540 miilion or (US$54 million). The process of planting and making sure that all societies are running will take 2 to 3 years.

We are asking for assistance in this project that will ensure that we create the next generation of entrepreneurs for this country. We need partners like you to believe in us that such an endeavor is possible and will change this country for ever. We are well aware that the figure of US$54million is huge, but if this is what it will take to change this nation for the betterment of generations to come, we would have left a legacy that is unparalleled. On our website you will get more details of our work and projects.

Further details please contact

Lydia Zingoni
Founder & Director: SA Teen Entrepreneur Foundation
Cape Town Science Centre
370 Main Road, Observatory
Tel: 021 447 6183 I Cell: 082 907 0739 I Fax: 086 548 9766
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]