South Africa’s unemployment rate - currently estimated at 25.5% - has reached a crisis peak. This has also raised fears of social unrest, with economists calling on the government to do something before it’s too late.
There is widespread consensus among economists that entrepreneurship can help bring down the high level of unemployment in South Africa. Byton Moyo of Soshanguve , although not an economist, agrees with them.
Moyo makes and sells laundry baskets on the side of the busy Soutpan road just outside Soshanguve. But these are not your average laundry baskets; they are hand-woven and are made from pieces of used PVC pipes, galvanized steel wire and steel straps.
During his high school years he used to work for his uncle. This is where he learned his weaving skills.
When I paid him a visit some few weeks ago, I found him hard at work softening PVC pipes with brazier fire. His two helpers were busy straightening a galvanized wire under a nearby tree. “This is how I make a living. It’s not easy, but it beats sitting at home doing nothing” said the avid entrepreneur.
When Moyo completed his matric, he thought it was going to make it easier for him to get a job. But reality hit him hard as jobs were hard to come by. And like many unemployed young people in our townships, he found himself loitering around the streets of Soshanguve.
But amidst all these difficulties a business idea was born, which was to change his life in a way he never thought anything could.
When Moyo first started his business, he had nothing except a few pieces of PVC pipes and a dream. Today he is his own boss and his business is growing by leaps and bounds. Apart from the fact that it puts bread on his table, it has also helped him and his helpers avoid a life of crime.
By now you must be wondering what this is all about.
This is simply about what we can do to survive in these tough times. It’s about courage, determination, perseverance and hope. It’s about, to borrow from American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, “self-reliance”.
There must be something wrong with us if we think the ANC has what it takes to bring down level of unemployment in our country. We must be a blind nation if we are still hanging on our president’s ‘half a million jobs’ claptrap. Come on folks, let’s face it, we are on our own here.
Back to Moyo. You see, Moyo didn’t wait for the government to extricate him from the yoke of poverty. But instead he, to use a cliché, pulled himself by the boot straps.
Imagine what his life would be like if he didn’t start his own business. He would probably be living on hand-outs, stealing to feed himself or languishing in prison.
My view is that we should just stop waiting for the government and find our own solutions.
I could be wrong, but that’s just how I see it.