16 June (Youth Day) is a significant date in South Africa’s rich and turbulent history. It marks the day of the Soweto Youth Uprising, when black youth protested against the apartheid government’s law that made it compulsory for learners to be taught in not only English but also Afrikaans, which was seen by many as the language of the oppressor. It marks a turning point, when the anti-apartheid movement gained momentum and started the long journey towards 1994, when the country celebrated its first democratic elections.
Youth Day not only marks this important uprising, but also celebrates the vibrant young community that represents South Africa’s future. It’s no secret that there are many challenges that South African youth face today, not least of which is unemployment (last year it was estimated that 53.18% of the country’s young people were without work, while in 2017 the World Bank estimated that up to 60% of Africa’s jobless are youth), and in the era of COVID-19 this challenge has been made even greater. The World Bank has predicted that globally up to 60 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty as a direct result of the pandemic (many of them in sub-Saharan Africa).
With so many businesses struggling to stay afloat during the extended lockdown period, Zhauns prides itself in working with entrepreneurs to create new businesses opportunities, and thereby finding a way forward for South Africa. By recognising that the more successes are seen in communities, the more these successes inspire others, Zhauns empowers entrepreneurs (young and old) by supplying them with the necessary machines and training to produce items that are needed in their communities (such as face masks and hand-washing stations), and ensuring that these budding small and medium-sized businesses become strong and sustainable.
Despite the huge odds that South Africa’s youth face today, through its partnerships with young entrepreneurs, Zhauns is providing hope – one of the most powerful tools for creating a positive future.