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In the prognosis of the National Development Plan released 7 years ago, the then Minister in the Presidency of South Africa responsible for Planning, Trevor Manual shared the story of Thandi.

Thandi is a young African woman, 18 years old, passed grade 12 in 2010.

She is part of a group of just under 1,4 million, 5, 6 and 7 year old who started school together in January 1999.

But so many of those who started with Thandi, the bulk of them, 46% [out of the 1,4 million] drop out at high school between grade 8 and 12.

Those who come through the system, about 600,000 sat to write grade 12 examinations.

Out that 600,000 who wrote matric, only 13% obtain university entrance and 12% get into a college to do a diploma.

It is a very small group, 25% that started with Thandi in 1999, who has the opportunity to take things further beyond matric.

But out of that entire group, somebody like Thandi, who went to a school where virtually everybody is poor and African, and because she is a female, her chances are only 4% to get into university.

Getting a university pass does not automatically mean that she would attend university.

In Thandi’s case she couldn’t. Financial challenges, transport fees, lunch money, black tax etc. are some of the reasons that compelled her to remain at home and look for a job to help out at home.

In the first year, after matric, there is only a 13% chance that Thandi will get a job.

If one were to project this over 5 years after matriculating, Thandi only has a 1 in 4 chance that she will get a job and once she has a job of earning an income, that job will only pay her a median of R4,000.00 [$260] per month.

1 in 50 of people who leave school and look for a job in South Africa will earn around R4,000.00 [$260] a month.

1 in 50 [2%] who leave school will about R4,000.00 [$260] a month in their first 5 years after school.

With the high youth unemployment rate in South Africa, Thandi is likely to get piece-job here and there, it may last a few weeks or few months, but for that period and in fact all of her working life, it is unlikely that she will earn above the poverty line of R1,183 [$81] a month.

This means for all of her child-bearing years, Thandi will be trapped in poverty.

Her children will be born in poverty.

The cycle of poverty will continue.

In fact ironically, the first time that Thandi is likely to breakthrough the poverty barrier would be when she turns 60 years and then gets state owned pension.

Thandi’s story is important to understand because there are so many Thandis in South Africa.

Access to health care, access to community services [water, electricity, sanitation, not pit toilets], access to information, access to public transport, community libraries, are important in improving the lives of Africans.

Access to quality affordable education is fundamentally important in solving this.

In this case, access to quality, affordable and practical entrepreneurship education is fundamental is fostering and sustaining a culture of entrepreneurship.

Starting and running a business is a skill.

Countries that have what the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor calls high Total Entrepreneurial Activity [TEA], are countries that create more jobs.

So the formula is: more entrepreneurs, more jobs, more high impact entrepreneurs, more high quality jobs.

When we started LORA in 2016, there were two burning issues:

  1. Reducing unemployment through creating skilled entrepreneurs; and
  2. Nurturing existing entrepreneurs to be high impact entrepreneurs.

Simply put our task was to help Thandi to either acquire the skill to be an entrepreneur or train someone who has entrepreneurship skills to be successful and ultimately employ Thandi and others like her.

LORA has been operating for the 4 years, we have not trained millions yet, but with the small number of students we have, we have created 5 full time entrepreneurs, some students were working full time and have since left their jobs to start their businesses full time, in the process, these entrepreneurs have created about 15 jobs.

It is still early days, but we are confident that over time, the impact will rise.

At the core of LORA‘s WHY is Thandi’s story and others like her.

Here is the full prognosis of Thandi’s story.

PS: Registration for 2020 cohort of LORA entrepreneurs is open. To apply go to this link —> New Venture Creation Online Application Form

One thought on “The Story of Thandi

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