The cry for jobs is everywhere, but the magnitude of the crisis is stark. The creation of large-scale formal employment for millions is unlikely to happen soon.
New ideas are needed — fast. The WAYSE programme — short for Women and Youth in Sustainable Enterprise—is an attempt to introduce another approach.
The programme, which kicked off in 2021 and will run for two years, aims to introduce 10 000 people to a range of activities that will hopefully stimulate the development of livelihoods. This is based on SaveAct’s accumulated experiences in livelihoods work over 15 years.
SaveAct founder and Executive Director, Anton Krone, said the programme is aimed at woman and youth because of the particularly dire circumstances these groups face around unemployment.
“SaveAct supports the interests and rights of women to have a livelihood that meets household needs. Current economic hardship has challenged us to extend this mission, to reach our youth with relevant and meaningful tools for change.” Krone said what SaveAct does is in response to what women and youth are looking for, as much as possible.
Two partner organisations, Siyazisiza and Siyakhula Sonke, are also involved and bring additional expertise to the programme, which is supported by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Gavin Watson, head of GIZ’s Centre for Cooperation with the Private Sector (CCPS), said what appeals about working with SaveAct is that its members are investing in their own solution, by saving.
“We came back from a site visit (in May) and the main thing I took away was that there is an incredible amount of ownership of a person’s solution when they are invested in it. (As GIZ) we’re just supporting them on their journey. With WAYSE, GIZ is providing the resources, and, through SaveAct, the infrastructure for people who want to be employed and need resources and capacity building,” he said.
Several activities will be rolled out over the next 18 months, with two of them, Livelihood Pathways and Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), already in motion. The range of activities accommodates people at different stages of self-employment, or helps them to access jobs and employment.
Livelihood Pathways, for example, is a foundation phase activity to provide youth with training in life skills and developing a life plan. ABCD promotion, a process which helps communities to see potential in their own areas when contemplating local development, has started in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Free State.
Krone said ABCD can bring about “a new way of looking at things”. “Many people are encouraged by leaders to look to them for their salvation. This invariably results in disappointment and increased hardship for the majority of people. ABCD can shift people’s perspective,” he said.
“It can bring a fresh and liberating realisation, that I am in control of my future, that there are some resources that I have access to, and that I can initiate a path out of my predicament.” Krone said at that stage of the journey SaveAct and its partners will then provide support to help participants realise their dreams. “This is a hard road, but it gets people to face realities and start clawing back their lives and determining their future.”
Initial ABCD workshops with eight different community groups have been held with promising responses. In Estcourt, for example, the group of businesspeople attending the workshop talked about setting up a local business forum to help each other.
Other activities to be rolled out in coming months will expose groups to different business development products, such as Business-in-a-Box, which provides a kit containing the requirements for producing a final product.
Also scheduled are business courses and basic and intermediate agricultural training. An immediate benefit of the programme for SaveAct is that staff are being trained to deliver training of these different activities. The new knowledge that they are gaining will strengthen the organisation in the long run.
Another plus is that these activities will be tested for their efficacy on large groups of people, which could yield useful data and lead to further work in the field of job creation, where ideas are so badly needed.
In terms of measuring how successful the programme is, Krone said at minimum SaveAct would want to see traction, people identifying with a path and moving along it. “Seeing people develop and implement their plan for an enterprise, for example, is a sign of good progress. Ultimately, we want to see individual savings group members thrive in a business or alternative livelihood endeavour, such as growing healthy food for their families and perhaps producing for the local market. Signs of innovation, or original ideas, would be a real bonus,” he said.
“In all of these we want to see continuity, and assistance from their savings group, to support their investments, and achieve income smoothening along the way. We will track incomes on a sample basis, to see if we can observe an upward and sustained trend.”
Watson said GIZ will be looking at both quantitative and qualitative results, in determining how successful WAYSE is. “If 15% or more have gone into employment or have enhanced their employment because they have learnt something or are taking something forward, we would be successful.
“But it starts with a groundswell of capacity building around savings groups and enterprise development, and the entrepreneurship that goes forward,” said Watson.