Creating sustainable futures for young South Africans, the COSY programme supports local entrepreneurs
The British Council’s Creating Opportunity for South Africa’s Youth (COSY) programme fosters inclusive growth and progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as supporting sustainable futures for thousands of young people in some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities.
The story of Nombuso Shandu demonstrates the entrepreneurial potential that can be tapped by providing the resources to promising young businesspeople. Shandu, a self-employed 24-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal, has successfully turned her passion into a business model. A beneficiary of the COSY programme and founder of Nolie Designs, since graduating from the programme in 2018, she has run her business from her aunt’s living room where she creates fashionable seshoeshoe (Sesotho traditional cloth) laptop and tote bags.
“My passion for sewing was inspired by my aunt, who taught me the craft. I hope to grow my business and employ and empower passionate and talented young people living with disabilities in the near future,” says Shandu. She and her three siblings live with their aunt in a home with no running water and are fully reliant on government support and funding. After matriculating, Shandu ventured out in search of work opportunities but like the majority of South Africa’s youth, securing a job with no experience in a country with an increasing unemployment rate was a difficult task – a reality that left her and the majority of her community unemployed.
In 2018 Shandu came across the COSY project and applied to take part in its training programme. On completing the course, the British Council helped her purchase two industrial sewing machines and a laptop, affording her the opportunity to maintain production and meet her business commitments. The programme also gave Shandu the skills to develop a business model, which afforded her the confidence to better articulate her business offering and value proposition to investors.
Since graduating, she has secured a contract to supply school uniforms to Zenzeleni Primary School, a local primary school based in KwaZulu-Natal. She also continues to make laptop and tote bags and manages her orders via telecommunications, while she sets-up her e-commerce platforms.
The COSY programme is currently training 160 young people in entrepreneurial thinking and practice. To date, the COSY project has trained 164 young people and awarded 25 graduates with start-up capital and mentorship.