I had a business registered but that was as far as my understanding of business went. Until I met Zipporah Segabetla who begged me to join the ITS TYME programme, funded by Barclays. She promised me I will find benefit in the programme. Joining and committing to the programme was the best decision I’ve ever made!” These are the sentiments of Jabu Sibiya, a recent graduate of the ITS TYME programme offered in Rustenburg.
“Put yourself in the shoes of a community member from Robega Village in Rustenburg (a town about 300km from Johannesburg’s city centre). Before we opened our business, community members would have to get a taxi early in the morning, spend about R40 per round-trip into Rustenburg Town (the central business district of the small town), then another R40 only to use the internet at an internet café – there is no money for luxuries like food! Understand what that means for someone who does not have any money and is desperately job hunting in order to put food on the table!” Jabu goes on to say; “I was that person! I had dreams of starting a business that will benefit my family but I also had dreams of making life in Robega easier for those who live here and when I realised what a struggle it was to register my business [due to internet accessibility challenges], I knew I had the solution for my community and I was the best person to make internet access a reality for the community.”
Jabu attended the ITS TYME programme in 2014. During the 20-week session he learned about banking – a new concept to him as the idea of banking was always daunting in the past. Until then, his only exposure to business was through Business Studies, a subject offered at school, but even so, his understanding of business was theoretical with no real practical appreciation. However, since childhood entrepreneurship was always an aspiration. “I would see people on TV making lots of money from offering their immediate community a product of service they needed. That was my inspiration. It became clearer when I realised how tough the job market was when I completed high school and all my applications for positions I was suited for were not successful or I got no reply.”
Immediately following the ITS TYME programme offered by Zipporah and Joe Segabetla, JA South Africa facilitators in Rustenburg, Jabu identified five other learners on the programme whom he believed would offer great support and commitment. Together the six-member team set out to make a reality the internet café Jabu had envisaged for his community.
Today, community members need only spend a few minutes walking to STM Internet Café and Academy where one of the six co-owners on duty will offer a customised service based on the client’s need. Something the team identified during the market research module on the ITS TYME programme is that each community member has a different need and understanding or knowledge of computers. The client would have access to the internet for a mere R15 per hour along with computer literacy training. “We teach our customers how to do their own internet searches, type up or update their CVs or what ever service they require our assistance with. We believe that when they learn by doing, the skills we teach them will stick [grab hold]”. Jabu is proud of the role he plays in this community. But, he is even more proud of the role the business plays in the lives of the six co-owners. The business has been running for eight months and is located along the main road in Robega next to its biggest restaurant and bar and just to the left of the village’s taxi rank. The location is therefore ideal for their clients to access. As a result of this prime location and the hands-on personalised service each client receives, the business has been able to expand within a short space of time – from one computer and printer at start up, the business now boasts three computers and two printers. The business is also in a position to pay each team member R400 per week and the member on duty for that week receives payment of R600.
At the ITS TYME programme certification event, graduates are provided with a USB containing contact details and brochures of incubator programmes with whom JA South Africa has forged a relationship. Graduates are encouraged to contact these business incubators to take their businesses to the next step. Jabu and his team did exactly that. They are in the process of applying for an expansion grant from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and are currently attending workshops offered by the NYDA to support their growth aspirations.
We look forward to witnessing Jabu’s business grow from humble beginnings to being a beacon of light in the Robega community.
This interview was conducted with Jabu Sibiya on behalf of his team of six members of the co-operative. The Co-operative is made up of Thuly, Bame, Gopolang, Nosbel, Louis and Jabu.