Youth Development Initiatives (YDIs) S&T’s Nobayethi Dube, Jowie Mulaudzi and David Everatt were involved in an evaluation of the innovative Youth Development Initiative in Gauteng. Nobayethi tells us about the project, and some of the findings.
In our last issue, we reported on an evaluation we were undertaking
for the Joint Enrichment Project (JEP) on YDIs. The evaluation included
both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The qualitative part
of our evaluation included focus groups and in-depth interviews with
business training providers. We also administered a questionnaire to
all participants of the YDIs.
Participants came both from formal and informal areas. The majority
of participants had a matric and were unemployed before joining the
YDI programme. This was part of the recruitment criteria - that participants
should be unemployed and out of school. Most participants said they
had not studied as far as they had planned.
Young - or young adults?
Participants came from varying household sizes, and many - despite
being ‘youth’ - were the sole breadwinners in their households. Three
out of ten respondents were the only individuals in the household that
were earning an income. More than two fifths of the respondent said
that only a single other member in their household was employed.
This brought the issue of the social wage paid to the youth to the
fore. The design of the YDI was that all participants would earn a social
wage set between R200 and R300 per month. If profits were generated
(which they were), these would go to the creation of or support for
a community-based organisation in the community where the YDI was located.
During the focus group discussions, participants raised their unhappiness
about the wage. Almost all the youth in the businesses had pressures
and demands from their families.
This should remind us that ‘youth’ are merely young adults. Many carry
enormous burdens as parents, breadwinners and the like. To design a
programme which combines entrepreneurship and restricted wages is anyway
questionable. To do so purely because participants fit into the under-35
age bracket is inappropriate, even where participants are aware of the
arrangement on entering the programme. Their responsibilities in many
instances are identical to those of adults and their financial needs
Training and value
All participants (except one individual) in the businesses went for
business plan training, which was provided by Foundation for Economic
and Business Development (FEBDEV). Training was also provided by the
Centre for Business Education and Trust (CBE&T). Because of financial
constraints this training was not attended by everyone. Each business
site had to send two representatives with the hope that they would pass
the skills on to other members of their business site. The JEP also
offered life-skills training to participants. There were mixed feelings
on the training with some participants saying the business training
did not add any value. They felt that too much of the training was theory
and little emphasis was put on the practical side. Some of this reflected
problems with training provision, detailed in the evaluation technical
The JEP’s lifeskills training - something the JEP have been championing
for a decade or more - was considered useful by participants and most
felt that it had helped them to have a different view on life. One young
man from the Bekkersdal site said “JEP’s training helped me a lot, I
never thought I could sit with people and discuss differences or problems,
but now I have a different outlook on life”. It may be time for a larger-scale
demonstration of the value to youth of the much talked-about lifeskills
Qualities that lead to success
We asked participants what they thought was the ‘recipe for success’?
Most participants mentioned that motivation and hard work lie behind
success. Working together was also cited as important. The majority
(76%) agreed with the statement: “In a business, even if you have responsibility
for a specific task you must be willing to do whatever has to be done”.
The social wage
Youth recruits were paid a social wage - between R200 and R300 per
month regardless of the profitability of their businesses. When conducting
focus groups, representatives from the sites had told us that the social
wage was not worth debating since they were unanimously unhappy and
rejected it. In the survey, however, we found a different situation,
with 80% of respondents agreeing to the statement “We were given government
money to start our business and we have a responsibility to put into
the community even if our wages are lower”. We also found that the majority
of respondents came from families where they were the sole supporters
of the entire family.
We asked participants to tell us where they thought they and their
businesses would be in five years time. The majority (59%) chose self-employment,
12% want to work for a YDI-type venture, and a quarter (24%) want to
work for big business. Three quarters (74%) of YDI workers are optimistic
about their businesses and believe that five years from now, they will
be successful. When asked to rate their businesses, participants mainly
gave scores in the 7-10 (out of 10) range, although in Lanseria and
Dobsonville some participants gave far lower scores.
Being an observer of these YDIs gave us the sense of determination
among participants who wanted their business to be successful and still
to be around in five years time. However participants were also concerned
about a lot of issues, which they felt were hindering their businesses,
which ranged from electricity, commitment from other members, and so
Participants felt that the YDIs were a good idea but they also raised
a variety of issues about the organisations that are providing resources
and support to them. Most participants felt that in future YDI participants
had to be carefully screened or interviewed before they being taken
on board such ventures.