Youth Day this month, throws a spotlight on young entrepreneurs who are navigating the challenges of keeping their businesses afloat, in the current economic climate that is experiencing the negative impact of COVID-19 and ripple effects of the country’s protracted lockdown.
One of these young entrepreneurs is Jo-Ann Matjan, owner of Heavenly Treats Bakery, situated in the small Northern Cape town of Britstown. She is one of a handful of community entrepreneurs that are benefiting directly from De Aar Solar Power’s funded Enterprise Development accelerator programme, with extended support and relief during COVID-19.
Jo-Ann’s Heavenly Treats Bakery had no premises and limited equipment. These difficult trading conditions were further exacerbated by the national lockdown, which directly affected her income. Funds allocated from the solar plant’s development programme enabled Jo-Ann to secure premises and purchase the necessary equipment. The business support programme also enabled Jo-Ann to obtain an essential service certificate, which meant that she could continue towards preparing her new business premises during lockdown. This meant that she was able to meet necessary commitments she otherwise would not have been able to afford.
“Supporting youth enterprises, such as Jo-Ann, is important to De Aar Solar Power, as it helps to address rising unemployment rates amongst the youth, and it is our hope that by supporting young entrepreneurs who will not only generate their own income but can plough back this success into their communities by providing further employment to other community members,” explained Harrisinah Theka, Economic Development Officer for De Aar Solar Power, who funded this programme as part of its Enterprise Development Programme.
The business support, which came at just the right time, has meant that Jo-Anne is now able to supply the whole of Britstown.
“Together with all the baking equipment, her new large format scale helps her to weigh everything so that she does not under-price her products. The business mentor also helps her to manage her business better and learn how to work with her money,” added Theka.
Four entrepreneurs have been identified to receive funding, as part of the enterprise development programme. The entrepreneurs are being assessed on an individual basis to see how they are being affected by COVID-19, so that bespoke support is provided for each entrepreneur to ensure the sustainability of their business during the national crisis.
All beneficiaries form part of the De Aar Solar Power enterprise programme, which is aimed at entrepreneurs from the rural towns of Hanover, Britstown, Philipstown and De Aar.
Other local enterprises that have also received COVID-19 funding to support their businesses’ sustainability includes Charmaine Baartman (owner of Mamfene’s Take Always); Amos Reed (farmer), in Phillipstown; and Catherine Riet, owner of Giesingskraal Irrigation, in Britstown.
In collaboration with Angels Resource Centres, the De Aar Solar Power funded the Big Shake-up Accelerator programme, a rural training programme that aims to budding entrepreneurs in the Pixley Ka Seme district with the basic skills of running a business, regardless of their education level.