Youth empowerment initiative boosts KZN skills, resources

Metropolitan CEO Peter Tshiguvho. I Supplied

Metropolitan CEO Peter Tshiguvho. I Supplied

Published Jun 9, 2024


Following resounding launches in Polokwane and Tshwane, Metropolitan Collective Shapers, a leading youth empowerment initiative, has announced the launch of its impactful programme in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Metropolitan, a South African financial services group, launched an initiative in 2021 to provide young entrepreneurs with necessary skills and resources to scale their businesses, create employment and improve market access.

The training programme has made an immense effect in Polokwane and Tshwane, assisting young entrepreneurs in agriculture, food and hospitality to reach new commercial heights.

Metropolitan CEO Peter Tshiguvho told The Star that the KZN instalment was geared to address the specific needs of the region’s thriving agricultural sector.

“I think, in essence, what we would like to try is to empower the youth more than the entrepreneurs. Now, when we talk about empowerment, there are a lot of things that we need to do. On the other hand, we have also focused this on one area for KZN, which is agriculture.

“So we will be going out to get a lot of entrepreneurs who are already operating in the agriculture space, and when we have them, we are going to make sure that we assist them by giving them tools on how to operate in that space. The network that we have and the partners that we have, like AgriSA, how can we be able to bring them in to ensure that we are able to mentor and coach some of these entrepreneurs?”

He explained that agriculture was a cornerstone of KZN’s economy, providing numerous opportunities for innovation and growth. However, young entrepreneurs often faced barriers to entry, such as limited access to resources, training and market opportunities.

The Metropolitan Collective Shapers sought to address these challenges by offering a comprehensive support system for entrepreneurs in this sector.

Phumla Mavundla, head of Marketing: Product and Channel at Metropolitan, also highlighted that Metropolitan’s Collective Shapers philosophy was built around a “hand up, not a handout” approach, which fostered self-sufficiency and innovation while being supported by experts.

“With youth unemployment alarmingly high, out initiative in KZN’s agricultural sector aims to leverage the province’s rich resources and young talent to spur economic growth and build sustainable and resilient communities.”

As part of the programme, Metropolitan will also host a virtual masterclass accessible to youth entrepreneurs from across the country.

Participants will receive tailored training modules on soft skills and local agriculture industry nuances, mentorship from professionals and business cash injections for top-performing businesses.

Market access opportunities will also facilitate growth and sustainability, connecting participants to essential networks.

To participate in the Metropolitan Collective Shapers programme, applicants should be between the ages of 18 and 35 and should permanently reside in the Republic of South Africa.

The initiative seeks youth-owned businesses that are 100% South African, prioritising those that are historically disadvantaged, including people living with disabilities.

Businesses must have been operating for at least 12 months within the formal or informal agriculture sector in KZN, with the director fully dedicated to the business.

It was also specified that a business needed to be an established entity, serving as the main venture for the applicant rather than a part-time endeavour.

Metropolitan has partnered with experts in entrepreneurship and agriculture to support more youth. This year, it continues its collaboration with e-hailing platform Uber to provide disadvantaged young job seekers with Uber vouchers, ensuring they can attend job interviews and access employment opportunities.

Applications for the official programme, starting on July 1 and ending on December 31, 2024, are open until June 30, and more information can be found on Metropolitan’s website.

The Star