Rani to mingle with leaders

2018-01-18 06:00
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and Silulo boss Luvuyo Rani will be in Davis next week.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and Silulo boss Luvuyo Rani will be in Davis next week.

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Luvuyo Rani, Silulo Ulutho Technologies (Silulo) co-founder and director, will be representing South Africa at this year’s World Economic Form (WEF) Annual Meeting which will be held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from the 23rd to the 26th of January 2018.

The World Economic Forum is an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation and states is mission as being committed to improving the state of the world.

This most prestigious meeting will host the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Rani who is a Schwab Foundation social entrepreneur, will represent both the country and Silulo and believes that internet access can transform rural and township economies and emphasizes that now is the time for Africa to rise.

With a few days to go to attend the meeting in Davos, Luvuyo met with WEF and shared his insights in an interview on how Silulo is bringing technology to the townships. Herewith an excerpt of the interview with Rani:

You started out in 2004 and now employ over 200 people. More than 31,000 students have completed your IT courses, and 80% of them are women. What is your next ambition?

My vision is to expand and deepen the business. We want to open stores in every province in South Africa, and we are also partnering with internet providers such as Vodacom to offer connectivity for people and businesses in the townships. In terms of training, we offer everything from coding courses to classes in soft skills to help young people find employment.

We also recognise that there is a need for us to foster the entrepreneurial growth in townships through technology and are looking to launch Silulo Business Incubation centres, where business owners and unemployed youth can have a township-based centre assisting them to establish their businesses particularly through the use of technology, given that this is our main expertise. As pioneers of technology in the township and rural community, our next growth phase will include us having a dedicated focus on entrepreneurship over and above the Silulo internet cafes and training centres.

South Africa’s townships are often associated with crime and poverty, but you talk about them with huge enthusiasm. Why do you think townships have such potential?

The townships are overpopulated, and they have needs. In Khayelitsha, for example, you have youth unemployment of 50%. The only way for these townships to leapfrog is by accessing the Internet at affordable rates. Connectivity is key.

Companies are realising now that there are a lot of opportunities in our townships. Our townships are where the population is. But to succeed in the townships, you need a social agenda, you need to train and empower people. You can’t just go in and open a branch. If you empower them, you become part of the community. The townships are full of young people with innovative ideas, people who set up their own businesses, coffeeshops, even a museum of crime!

How can we help these young people achieve their dreams?

We need role models in the townships, not American or European role models but local success stories that can be showcased and celebrated. When I tell my own story, people feel inspired. They realise that if I can do it, with my background, nothing is stopping them.

What one thing can we all do to help create a shared future in a fractured world?

The key is to give everybody the opportunity to connect and collaborate. Through collaboration, we can use our own work to create a better world. Africa is full of innovative ideas. We don’t need any more handouts, we just need to work together. I see myself as part of the future generation that will realise these ideas. It’s time for Africa to rise and set the agenda for the rest of the world.

The full WEF article and Interview is on at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/01/q-a-the-social-entrepreneur-transforming-south-africa-s-townships/

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